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Prisoner in Solitary Confinement

Thomas Meyer-Falk | 17.12.2001 19:02

Redskin in the German Penal System

Thomas Meyer-Falk, Prisoner in Solitary Confinement
Redskin in the German Penal System

On October 12th, 1996, I was arrested by a special response unit of the police because I had robbed a bank and taken hostages to finance certain projects. I was, at the time, a 30 year old redskin (antifascist skinhead, RASH – Red & Anarchist Skinheads), and since the arrest I have almost continuously been held in strict solitary confinement. First in the infamous prison Stuttgart-Stammheim, in which comrades of the RAF (Red Army Faction) died in 1977, and now, since over three years, in Bruchsal, a prison that was opened in 1848 and in which some of the first prisoners were revolutionaries from the peasants’ revolts.
The solitary confinement measures, including being denied an open university course and a television, also mean I am only let out of the cell tied up, even spending my one hour walk in the prison yard tied up. Any contact or conversation with other prisoners in the institution is forbidden, so that I’m completely dependent on written correspondences. Visits are behind bullet-proof glass and under guard; comrades or friends that don’t speak German are not allowed to visit, as German has to be spoken, unless we’d pay a translator. They say their surveillance on English letters is okay, but it’s asking too much of the guards to follow a conversation in English.
I am in close contact with the comrade Mark Barnsley in Great Britain, who has been incarcerated by the British imperial justice system for over 6 years, even though he’s innocent. Especially these correspondences with other jailed comrades, for example in the US, France and Italy, are important, on the one hand to show solidarity, but also to exchange information and thus have political discussions, as much as is possible considering the political censorship in the prisons.
In summer 2001, the prison I’m held in demanded forced labour from me. I would have been taken to a different cell in solitary to do mind numbing piecework there by myself, to then be taken to the second cell in solitary in the evenings and at night to sleep. This really makes the dehumanisation and the reduction of the human individual to a mere machine clear: during the day, the prison makes use of the capacity for work, at night, ‘rest’ in the solitary cell guarantees productivity.
I declined this ‘offer’, pointing out amongst other things that especially in Germany, with its nazi history, it doesn’t look that good to squeeze work out of a prisoner, after all, many European states don’t engage in this humiliation. As a result I was classified as ‘refusing work’, which meant I wouldn’t be paid any ‘pocket money’ (ca. 35 Euros a month = $30) and so cannot buy things such as shower gel, sweets or supplementary nutrition. According to German law, a convict has to use either the money ‘earnt’ by forced labour, or the pocket money paid by the prison. Another small piece in the politics of dehumanisation, the person is reduced to shitting, eating the prison food and sleeping!
The institution repeatedly demanded I talk to the prison directors to establish ‘trust’. This too I decline, since there can never be any ‘trust’ with the enemy! But I have also been accused by some so-called comrades that it’s my own fault I’m in solitary, I could just give in and talk to them if they so wish. I consider these so-called comrades to be ignoring the huge disparity in power between the government on the one side and me on the other, which renders any voluntary or open conversation impossible. For example, George W Bush and his US military machine never holds open talks with opponents of the regime, choosing instead a politics of ‘eat or die’. It’s not only the disparity in power that prevents talks, but also the indisputable fact that any discussion also means collaborating with the enemy!
My position is not diplomatic! It’s also not pragmatic! The ideals I support and will continue to support – liberating societies from the inhumane dictatorship of capital, to become free, humane societies, fighting fascism and imperialism, for freedom and justice – these mean more to me than some small relief in my detention. It’s our dignity and integrity that counts!
Viva la revolution! Thomas Meyer-Falk, JVA, Zelle 3117, Schoenbornstr. 32, 76656 Bruchsal, Germany
November 12th, 2001

Thomas Meyer-Falk