I have been asked to act as European Spokesperson for Derry and North West Civil Rights Network with regard to informing HRW of the Hunger Strike at H.M.P Maghaberry in the North of Ireland. The Hunger Strike is approaching it’s 20th day today 06/09/12 and due to the media blackout in the North of Ireland re: events in H.M.P Maghaberry, the public have very limited if any information regarding the conditions being endured by the participants. Please allow me to furnish you with a brief and concise summary of the Hunger Strikers‘ backgrounds and the conditions which led to the Hunger Strike.
The persons on Hunger Strike are, namely Desmond Hamill, Thomas Hamill, Austin Creggan and Martin Mc Gillioway. All four are from the Dungannon, East Tyrone area of Ireland and come from a Republican background and are currently remanded in custody in HMP Maghaberry on serious charges including possssion of explosives (charges which they vehemnantly dispute). Though almost all prisoners from a Republican background are housed in separate accomodation within the prison complex, these four men have been placed in the areas housing criminal and Loyalist prisoners where their lives are in constant danger from other inmates. An attempt has been made on their lives recently by Loyalist inmates by placing potentially explosive substances in the area where the Hunger Strikingprisoners prepared their food, resulting in them being denied access to cooking or food preparation facilites and being separated from each other and placed in variuos other locations within the prison where their lives are in constant danger. They also allege that they are subject to untoward behaviour from prison staff.
These men wish to be placed in the area holding Republican prisoners from the various organisations whose prisoners are already accomodated therin but due to some remaining differences between them and an organisation whose prisoners inhabit this area they have been unable to secure permission to be placed there and this and the wish to be treated as political prisoners are the reasons that they commenced their Hunger Strike some 20 days ago. Their conditions are deteriorating, with at least one of then having lost some 23 lbs in bodyweight since the start of the strike.
Their families and friends are gravely concerned for their well being as are various Civil and Human Rights organisations, hence the reason that I am contacting you with this information in the hope that you can alert those in a position to intervene on their behalf on a purely Humaitarian basis.
I myself have arranged a meeting with the Honourary Consulate of Ireland here in Hamburg and shall be discussing this and other matters with them at the meeting.
As the position of the prison authorities is such that an outside medical assessment of these Hunger Striking prisoners is being denied and their families being deprived of information regarding their health status I urge you to contact the UN doctors with a view to having an assessment of these prisoners caried out in the near future.
As you can appreciate, this situation is extremely urgent so I urge you to act quickly in the hope that this situation can be managed and brought to and end sooner rather than later. I apprciate your help and look forward to hearing your response to this situation.
S.N C. ODP BSc.Hons
POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh
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