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2 Letters from Prisoners in the UK's Guantanamo: HMP Long Lartin

Chris | 21.01.2007 21:17 | Repression | Terror War | Sheffield

The Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) web site has two letters from detainees at HMP Long Lartin, "Y" and Reda Dendani (formally "Q"), "HMP Long Lartin is UK’s Guatanamo -approved and made legal by SIAC (Special Immigration Appeal Commission) - a secret court with secret evidence". Read on for these letters and an article about them.

UK’s Unheard of Detainee

Detainee Y,
HMP Long Lartin

HMP Long Lartin is UK’s Guatanamo -approved and made legal by SIAC (Special Immigration Appeal Commission) - a secret court with secret evidence. At least detainees in the US Guatanamo in Camp Delta are in a detention centre and recently they got the right and the prospect of a trial in US open courts. But here in the UK, in the mother of democracy, freedom of speech and human rights in a civil society, detainees like me are being held in a high security prison (Long Lartin) and treated worse than convicted prisoners (Cat. A). Despite the row about prison over-crowding, a whole unit, half of it is empty, is designed for detainees so they don’t mix with other prisoners in the same establishment and to keep them in total isolation held without interview, charge, trial or a prospect of a fair deal or release.

Indefinite detention (imprisonment) the same as 2001 Laws but covered and legalised by Judges in SAIC on the basis of secret evidence that no one is even allowed to see or challenge. Not the detainees and their lawyers. Only the Home Office (who at the same time is the prosecution) and one Judge in SIAC Court can see this so-called secret evidence if there is such evidence?! The Home Office or the Prosecutor can speak up and make his case in SIAC and in the media and elsewhere but the detainee has no rights. He is banned from the media, from seeing the evidence brought against him and from challenging the Home Office. The BBC and other media have been to US Guatanamo but they can’t visit UK Guantanamo in Evesham, Worcestershire. I don’t know why? The want us totally isolated in a high security prison - not Belmarsh this time - but far away from London so we can be forgotten and only used as escape goats when needed by the security services to frighten and scare the nation in the UK and the Home Secretary uses us to show that he is doing a good job by keeping the UK safe from people who lived here for 5, 10, 15 years as normal citizens.

I don’t know really who is the fright here and who is not. Who is the oppressed and who is the oppressor. Is this justice? Is this fair?? All the detainees are suffering from mental, physical and psychological torture and I mean torture! We have been, and still are, bullied, segregated, used and abused by this Government and SIAC only because we are Muslim, refugees or asylum seekers. Helpless and hopeless with no one to speak for us (like a lamb between a bunch of wolves). Human Rights Watch says that the UK is involved in torture. I wonder why? Yes. Everything I said is happening here under a Government who went to Afghanistan and Iraq to spread justice, freedom and democracy. Is this a joke or politics? How can someone give what he hasn’t got?!

So for anyone who reads or hears my message - please help us, please do something, please say something. After all, we are all human beings. Mankind. So please help us.

Thank you very very much.

Detainee Y

Reda Dendani

HMP Long Lartin

I shall start this letter by announcing that I refuse to be called “Q” any more. I am Reda Dendani, 31, Algerian national, married and have a step daughter of 7. I’ve been living in the UK since 1998 as an asylum seeker. Calling me “Q” was not designed by the Home Office to protect me from the public. It was the opposite in fact. Labelling me like an object concealed the human being I am and facilitated the grip of allegations from the Home Office in the media.

The Home Office issued me with a deportation order 16 months ago on 11.8.05. This was after I had spent two and a half years in Woodhill and Belmarsh prisons, then freed on control orders after the House of Lords made my detention illegal under the Anti Terrorism Act 2001 on December 2004.

Basically the Home Office regards me as a suspected terrorist, a threat to national security, a dangerous man - my presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good……. These are big words, very shocking and frightening – well designed for the media but not supported by any proof or evidence – just allegations! This has destroyed my life. I would have been prosecuted if a fraction of what was alleged was true, as I was for a far lesser offence on which I pleaded guilty. This is to say there are enough laws to face any criminal in the UK but if you cannot prosecute someone it is simply because he is innocent and as such must be free to go.

I’ve paid for the offence enough; it hurts when you read on the bottom of the Home Office letters “Building a Safe, Just and Tolerant Society” or under the logo of the Treasury Solicitors, “Law at the Heart of Government”.

The Home Office has forgotten these guidelines and trespassed its limits by ordering my detention in a high security prison against my will without any charge. This illegal detention has been a problem and still is for the prison because of no clear status where all other prisoners are convicted and me and other foreigners are not.

The Home Office, in a move which is the mother of all hypocrisy, is offering me a way to appeal against its decision through a special court called SIAC. It is enough to read what Amnesty International’s 2006 report has said about the UK and it human rights in this SIAC. I’m not allowed to know and therefore to cross examine what is held against me. A madness – a crazy situation. I’m fighting a ghost. Whatever I say there is always closed sessions where I’m not allowed in nor my solicitor. This is an affront to the fundamental justice system.

Because of this, I’ve stopped resisting my deportation. Better for me to face Algerian authorities – more straightforward than this Chinese torture made in UK. I’ve signed all the necessary papers for this deportation. I’ve seen both the UK representative and his Algerian counterpart in the prison I’m held in. This was 9 months ago on 24.3.06. The new crazy thing is I’m still in prison in the UK. It is such nonsense that I’ve taken the Home Office to court to force it to proceed with the deportation. I thought because it was High Court not “SIAC” I will see justice done. My problem is now very simple. The Home Office wants to deport me to Algeria and I accept to be deported to Algeria. My case was dismissed on 3.10.06 and the court reserved its reasons for the decision.

What is going on? If this is not a Police State, what is one? A foreigner in this country is a synonym for a criminal; a second class citizen. The facts speak for themselves and changing the name of things or giving them the cover of the law doesn’t changes their reality. That is: I’m a HOSTAGE in this country. I’m held against my will. I’m in UK’s version of Guantanamo.

Prove me wrong!

Mr Reda Dendani

No trial means justice denied - detention in Britain

by Paul Donovan, Tribune, 12th January 2007

There are people living like ghosts in our communities. These were the words used by human rights activist Bruce Kent to describe the lives of a number of individuals who have been held without trial in a variety of forms of captivity in the UK over recent years.

Mr Kent is one of a number of courageous people who have provided moral support by visiting those placed under control orders. Many of those detained have finished up in Broadmoor, driven mad as a result of the pressure they have been put under.

The problems started for many of the men following 9/11. Some were initially detained without trial under the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001.

Then after the law lords ruling in December 2004 that detention without trial was unlawful they were put on control orders. After the London bombings they were re-arrested prior to being served notice of deportation by the Home Office. A number of the men cleared in the so-called ricin trial (April 2005), where no ricin was found, were also processed in the same way. So for the past 15 months, some have remained in prison while others have been bailed under control order style conditions.

Throughout the period of detention, there has been no mention made of what offence they are supposed to have committed.

The latest effort has seen the Government trying to deport these individuals back to the torturing countries from which they fled seeking sanctuary as refugees.

Originally, the aim was to secure Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with various countries. The government asserts that a "MOM" guarantees, by way of "diplomatic assurances", that people deported by the UK would not be tortured or ill-treated in the country to which they are sent. MOMs have been obtained with Jordan, Libya and Lebanon but proved impossible to achieve with Algeria, from where the majority of those being detained originate.

Human rights groups like Amnesty International point out that "the essential argument against diplomatic assurances is that the perceived need for such guarantees is in itself an acknowledgement that a risk of torture and other ill-treatment exists in the receiving country."

However, in a landmark case at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) Justice Ouseley ruled in the case of an Algerian man known as Y that assurances given to Tony Blair by the Algerian Government that "no torture, no ill-treatment" would take place were sufficient.

The significance of the ruling was that the barrier to deporting people back to countries where they could face torture had been lowered even below that of the nefarious MOMs.

Y's solicitor, Gareth Peirce, succintly summarised the position. "A year ago Tony Blair said the rules of the game had changed and they would deport refugees to countries that they knew used torture, but they would not do it unless we have a MOM and an independent monitoring group," she said.

"Now one year later, there is no MOM and no monitoring group in place. The government are saying they are not necessary and today the court has endorsed that."

Yet Algeria is a country which the Home Office's own country report, produced by the Country Information and Policy Unit to assess asylum claims, says practices "beatings with fists, batons, belts, iron bars, plastic pipes or rifle butts; whipping; cutting with sharp objects; hitting the soles of the feet; soldering irons or cigarette butts applied to bare skin."

Amnesty International referred to the SIAC decision as an affront to justice given that the "officials of the Departement du Renseignement et de la Securite (DRS), Department of Information and Security, also known as Military Security, continue to torture uncharged detainees held in their custody."

There is growing concern in legal circles at the way in which the Government have effectively used the immigration court process via the SIAC as a way to circumvent normal due process. All most of those being detained have called for all along is to be brought before a fully accredited court to face whatever charges they are accused of. The reality has been they have become trapped in the immigration court sphere, unable to access justice.

Justice Ouseley, the judge who presided over the case of Y and others at SIAC, has an interesting history himself. For it was he who back in 2001 decided that the Chagos islanders would receive no compensation for their forcible and illegal removal from Diego Garcia in 1966 to make way for a US base. The islanders claim for compensation came a year after an initially successful High Court ruling that they were removed unlawfully.

Dismissing the claim for compensation, Justice Ouseley described the islanders case as "unmeritorious" and "hopeless."

No doubt Justice Ouseley was one of those Mrs Peirce had in mind when she recently stressed the need for an education in human rights for the judges.

"The right to trial by jury has been taken away without any debate but by sleight of hand," said Mrs Peirce, who lamented the passive way in which this police state style justice has been accepted by the majority of people in this country.

The plight of the likes of those held in a state of limbo in our prisons and under control order style conditions in the community need to be brought to the notice of a wider audience. The way in which the ongoing removal of citizen's rights at the behest of an ill defined terrorist threat should be a cause of concern to everyone. It is high time that the injustice of the hidden system administered via the immigration courts was exposed. Only when more people become aware will citizens once and for all be able to start reclaiming their rights.



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  1. Reda Dendani — Phil Brick
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  3. Temper — Phil Brick