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Anti-fascist prisoner Jock Palfreeman target in far-right smear campaign (Bulgaria)

From a comrade of ABC Brighton

Antifascist prisoner Jock Palfreeman is currently a target for far-right smear campaign after he had been nominated to a “Human of the Year 2015” award by the human rights NGO Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. His nomination said as follows:

“In his work as Chairman of the Bulgarian Prisoners Rehabilitation Association (BPRA) Jock Palfreeman directly defends the human rights of prisoners in Bulgaria. Though consequential work to reform the criminal justice system of Bulgaria, the human rights of all Bulgarian citizens are enhanced.

The BPRA is uniquely a NGO for prisoners that seeks to reconcile the operation of Bulgarian prisons with international obligations to human rights for those imprisoned in Bulgaria. Further, it highlights and combats well-documented, systemic corruption and violations of human rights by prison officials and authorities.

Major achievements by Jock during the period November 2014 – October 2015 include: establishing direct prisoner representation on the Ministry of Justice Workgroup on Penitentiary Reform; the development of a proposal for more clear and transparent criteria for parole eligibility; defending illegally detained asylum seekers though legal representation and legal aid leading to their subsequent release from imprisonment; defending prisoners against human rights abuses committed by prison guards and authorities , predominately at Sofia Central Prison; the accurate reporting of human rights violations to appropriate authorities and organisations such as BHC and CPT; leading by example by showing other prisoners how they can successfully demand and fight for their rights; and the writing of appeals, requests and complaints on behalf of illiterate prisoners.

Jock and the other prisoners involved in the BPRA have been subjected to repression and illegal punishments by prison authorities. Despite these and many other restrictions on the activities and organisation of the BPRA, Jock has continued to build solidarity and strength amongst, and defend the human rights of, prisoners.”

The nomination for Jock quickly caused massive controversy. Fascist ultras from Levski’s South Division group, to which Andrei Monov belonged and whose death Jock had been charged with, together with Monov’s ever-influential family, started a smear campaign against Jock’s nomination. The Bulgarian media went into a frenzy, various fascists groups organised protests outside office of Bulgarian Helsinki committee, as well as displaying banners with slogans such as “Death to BHC” and “BHC – shame of a nation” during football matches. Initially the BHC refused to bow under the pressure, but as members of the jury started to feel intimidated, with some resigning and others threatening to follow suit, the BHC removed Jock’s nomination and replaced it with general “Bulgarian Association of Prisoners” nomination. They also apologised to Monov’s family for “causing upset.”

Jock needs our solidarity right now! Antifascists and anarchists in Bulgaria seem to be unable or unwilling (as in the case of the Federation of Bulgarian Anarchists) to offer any support; so it rests on us to do it.

First of all, let us make sure that the Bulgarian Prisoners Association wins the award. In order to do that, please go to: http://www.humanoftheyear.org/glasuvane-na-publikata-15/ , login with your Facebook account (unfortunately you need to have one to do it) and then give your vote to the Bulgarian Association of Prisoners. Share this article in as many places as possible and make sure that you get everybody you know to vote as well. Also, write to Jock and spread awareness of his case.

Recent interview with Jock:

More about Jock: http://www.brightonabc.org.uk/jock.html

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This entry was posted on Sunday, November 15th, 2015 at 4:00 pm and is filed under Anti-Fascist.