About the prison revolt in Caxias, Portugal

In 1996 a revolt disturbed the prison of Caxias, close to Lisbon; it was the fire that sparked after an ongoing struggle, strikes and tensions in prisons all over the country since 1994. On the 23rd of March 1996, one wing, that was divided in two, revolted fiercely against the guards, the abuse, the torture, the 200% overpopulation and the suffocation behind bars.

180 people fought that day, many ended up in the hospital after being shot by the guards and several bone fractures. The Portugese bourgeois press and the justice like to speak of a “motim”, mutiny, but as one of them refers it was more a 30 minute rebellion, unorganised and undeliberated.

Never was there a reform bill presented after this day, no differences, no repercussions, no real discussion. Today Portugal speaks about the prison again, in the media, in the parliament, and shows its ‘free’ mask, wants to listen to the stories of  ‘96, to bring change to the modern, clean and democratic prisons, ‘where there is no space for torture and mutiny’. So they decided to put 25 men, who were imprisoned in that wing at that time, to trial. 13 years later.

The charges are riot, destruction and arson.

The first trial date, Thursday March 6th was a mess.
Only 11 of the 25 men appeared, knowing that some are even unfindable currently, but some even came from where they are living these days; Spain, Germany, Italy, or another hell hole from the state.
Nobody really seemed to know what they were doing there, and the judge absolutely not. The chaos resulted in the interruption by the judge for a postponing to the 2nd of April. What will be presented and talked about then is a big question to everyone, but for sure the freedom of 25 men are again at stake in this ridiculous case.
Some comrades made a publication, that is being distributed in the prisons of portugal at the moment, a link to the pdf is to be found here.

(unfortunately only available in Portugese, but for Spanish speakers mostly not a very big problem).

For more portugese news see here.

Solidarity with the 25

(Editorial from the brouchure)
On March 23, 1996 a “riot” took place in the Fortress of Caxias (Portugal), provoked by the interests of the State, with the aim to finish the diverse prisoner struggles that were taking place. The riot passed the prison walls and installed itself in the public opinion, generating a debate where some opinions went so far as to question the existence of the prison itself and it’s role in society.

Of the 180 arrested, accumulated and defenseless -between the left and right sides of the third floor- the big majority suffered wild beating for several days. The result of this terrifying practises ended with multiple fractures and cerebral commotions, and a prisoner that got blind as a consequence of one of the many shots of rubber bullets shot by the mercenaries of the State during the “riot”.

The State doesn’t even respect its own law. It is known that always has been the master violating the rules that he himself has created, not hesitating to practise any crime in its own interest to be as horrible that can be.

In the case of the “prisoners between walls”, from 1994 to 1996 it is enough a simple glimpse of the press to verify the scandalous systematical violation of the “prisoners rights”. Hunger strikes, strikes of work, letters and bulletins opposing and resisting to such a cruel reality… were a part of the everyday-life of the arrested in this times. It is in this environment in which, by superior orders, there has been a provocation to the prisoners, who had a spontaneous reaction. Psychotropics were distributed in the habitual “diet”, and the temporary director of the Direction of Penitentiary Services in a “dialogue” with the prisoners legitimately, indignantly demonstrated his entire scorn for them. This would be the spark that would light the wick.

How is it possible that, with entire rudeness, thirteen years later, the State tryes to blame 25 arrested at the time, accusing them in a judicial procedure of riot, fire and damages?! The Public Ministry aledges that the prisoners started organizing themselves with hunger and work strikes, two weeks before March 23. They try to silence this way the context of corruption, impunity and of serious violations of the human dignity, as well as the struggles of resistance of the two previous years!…

Against such “whitening”, individuals and diverse groups have decided to make this publication, with the intention of remembering the events that happened between 1994 and 1996 in almost all the Portuguese prisons, to show our repudiation before such an absurd process, dismantling the farce of the accusation, and to denounce the repressive performance of the state organs, which had an active role in the increase of the terror lived in the Portuguese prisons in the 90s – and that even today, sadly, continues – with the frightening and sadly true number of deaths, patients without the due treatment, prisoners carrying out disguised life imprisonments… etc, supporting this scandalous situation in a camouflaged and invisible limbo.

Government, Federal Prosecutors and the DGSP (General Direction of Penitentiary Services) were and are responsible of what happened and keeps on happening with their entire silence and hypocrisy inside the prisons. What went out in the mass media is only the top of the iceberg. Of there being a judgment with the rules of the Constitutional state, it should be the State itself sitting down at the defendant’s chair and never those who suffered this premeditated, systematical and immeasurable violence. If the people could fully know the reality of the interior of the prisons, although only for one hour, would certainly get up in mass to repudiate this “new holocaust”, as the dissident criminologist Nils Christie says.

Recently, in Europe, several struggles took place and some of them still continue: in August, 2008, about 550 prisoners were in hunger strike in the German prisons demanding “improvements” in the penitentiary system; in November almost the totality of the penitentiary population of Greece was also in hunger strike – information and solidarity actions took place in whole Europe-; in Italy, where, as in Greece, life imprisonment exists, almost all the prisoners condemned to this maximum penalty are in struggle since December 1st, 2008 (restarting another struggle that they began in June of the same year); several prisoners of Córdoba and of other parts of Spain initiated a hunger strike in solidarity with the prisoners of Italy, claiming at the same time a series of improvements in the Spanish penal and judicial system; in the summer of 2008, Amadeu Casellas, prisoner in Catalonia (Spain) was 78 days in hunger strike. In Portugal, in Monsanto – one of the Guantánamos of the country – several arrested were, in October, in hunger strike protesting against the tortures of which they are target and against the entire impunity with which the prison guards of this prison act.

The struggle for dignity and for freedom will never be able to be contained, neither in prison or in the street.!

Solidarity and absolution for the 25 of Caxias!

As an epilogue

The law is the tool of the State/Capital to defend the existing order so that some rule and exploit others in this miserable and rotten world, organized by the ideas of domination. To pretend that the rules and the standards of those who imprison us would be in any way beneficial, is like a suicide.

Those who imprison people, and in addition in extremely cruel conditions, subjected to swell the statistics of mortality, cannot expect less than continuous revolts of any kind.

Those moments of protest, with their claims, those moments of resistance, that disobedience to the management of death, which is prison – a center for extermination, are moments that we consider to have great human value!

Revolt is always noble, beautiful and fascinating as the sense of dignity and desire to live greater than the fear of repression. Therefore, those of us who are in a “prison without walls” and desire a world without visible and invisible shackles, we can no longer avoid solidarity with all the riots that occurred in prison: a localality of extreme bestiality where people are exposed to the judgement of henchmen, where reigns the nepotism, personal favoritism, outrageous discriminations, where solidarity is offense, where they use inquisitorial techniques, cruel cage and wise in the art of punishment, to inflict torture and pain (besides the arsenal of “normal” horrific punishment inside wet and frozen disciplinary cells, the 111 regimen and others); where we see systematic suffering and the premeditated political intent of phisical and psichological annihilation of personality and individual identity, under the false speech of rehabilitation and re-socialization; where one “lives” in isolation, in boredom, in solitude, in incertainty, in anxiety, in atrocious agony, in a total state of defenseless, in fear, in desperation, in permanent stress, in tachycardia; where one is submitted to incubation of the germs of infectious diseases that lead to extermination, where life is subjected in a calculation of probabilities, to the high risk of mortal infection; where we can feel and present the horror of death approaching, where there is slow and painful death of human beings condemned to the absolute ferocity of indeference and ostracism; where one acquire phobias, psychosis, neurosis, schizophrenia; where one becomes apathetic, depressive; where indivual is constantly induced to suicide!… and a long etc. ..

The prison, as a mega-inhumane institution – repressive element of social control – is the last stronghold of power’s domestication mechanism, for the excluded, for the subversive, to all who in some way bothersome domination and social order. The prison is the indicator of errors of the system, and try to humanize it is impossible due to its own nature. Only we can say that some reforms may become it less cruel. The prison is intrinsically an enemy of life, and its existance shows the the system that built it, and clear us about its “humanity”.

We don’t pretend to mystify prisioners, but to express our deep repudiation to this terrible institution, and criticize the theories – advocated by this hypocrite and civilized society-prison – that states social life is impossible without the existence of this execrable institution.

We want a world without prisons and it is possible, but for this, obviously, we need to break with domestication, think by our own, subvert the rigid minds populated by the germs of domination, and fight against existing order, so that a radical change take place and goes to the roots of social problems. What we cannot admit is this system with all its wars, ecocide, exploitation of man by man, theft of our lives, social inequalities that create starvation, misery and many other atrocities, prison included.

Fighting for the end of prisons involves fighting for the end of this rotten system in general, that builds the prisons.

We hope that this publication serves as a contribution to reflexion and respective fight for reappropiation of our lives and consequently for a world without prisons.

We finish with a elucidatory piece from a kidnapped by the State, a reflexion which is a deep scream of rebellion against prison:

“The jailers want risk subsidies. And we, prisoners and families, don’t we should receive risk subsidie? Who that appears hanged in the prisons? The prisoners. Who constantly dies in the prisons with AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis, leukemia, etc..? The prisoners. Who gets serious diseases in the prisons? The prisoners. Who is beaten and tortured in prisons? The prisoners. Who is constantly driven to suicide? The prisoners. Who appears suspicious hanged? The prisoners. Who is submitted to poor and miserable feed, the most of the times inedible, causing disease? The prisoners. Who suffers medical negligence? The prisoners. Who is continuously humiliated and suffers unspeakable attacks to human dignity? The prisoners.”

“I don’t want any subsidie! I demand only what power has stolen to me: my freedom, inalienable, because i didn’t delegate anyone to decide for me! I claim what belongs to me: my freedom!”

“The strugle for amnesty or extended pardon that is being claimed formally is very poor compared with the content of the generality of the revolt. In the permanent open revolt in the face – even with the coactive techniques, drugs provided by the State to prisoners, sophisticated pavlovian constraints and draconian reprisals – with remarkable invectives against the prisonal insitution itself, is the beautiful poetry and wealth of rebellion. The requirements not formalized, but deeply felt, is the refusal of prison itself. Unfortunately, the natural feeling of refusal of prison, that deep hate against prison, constantly expressed with strong invectives against prison, and by gestures of direct action – like set fire to cells, constant self mutilation, hunger strikes, painful screams and other acts – not have yeat been enough discussed to be required with the words “the abolition of prison” or “prison abolition!”(like it happens for a long time in other countries of Europe)!

“April 26, 1996″

A kidnapped person of the State

This entry was posted on Monday, June 1st, 2009 at 12:48 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.