Friday, March 8, 2013

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Michael Campbell - The forgotten Prisoner?

Guest writer Aine Fox, a frequent contributor to the Blanket, with a piece highlighting the situation of republican prisoner Michael Campbell, currently held in a Lithuanian jail.


Lukiskes sits in the Lithuania town of Vilnius. If one were to walk around the exterior of the prison you may think it was part of local government buildings that inhabit the surrounding square. Instead this relic from 1904 is a notorious prison, one that even Lithuanians arrested abroad fight to stay away from. Lithuanian crime rates in EU countries have risen in the past decade but many want and fight to remain in the country’s they committed crimes in rather than be sent back to what many describe as a hellhole.

Tomas Navickas, a 32-year-old Lithuanian emigrant in the United Kingdom who was sentenced in March 2011 by a UK court to life in prison for murdering his concubine, is one of a handful of vicious Lithuanians who will likely spend the rest of their days behind bars. The murderer prays he will be held in an English penitentiary, promising Western-like hotel-type prison amenities, rather than facing the prospect of being extradited back to Lithuania, as serving the sentence in the notorious Lukiskes Remand Prison makes him shiver. - The Baltic Times

Gangsters, harden criminals who traffic human beings for their pocket money are desperate not to be returned to Lithuania dare they end up languishing in this system. Now think of Michael Campbell – He currently resides in this prison.*

Research carried out by European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (ECPT) and the European Court of Human Rights recommended Lukiskes, be shut down. Throughout it’s 107 year history the prison is infamous for torture, suicides, deaths in custody, overcrowding is prominent with sometimes more than 6 males squeezed into an average size cell. No access to regular communication, very little resources available to inmates. Michael is suffering under these conditions and has been every single day for the last 4 years.

Michael was arrested in Lithuania in 2009 as part of a joint ‘sting’ operation by British Security Forces and Lithuania forces who currently remain anonymous. These “witnesses” testified by audio only during Michael’s trial. Video evidence is believed to have been tampered with, they stated that Campbell intended to buy and ship arms and ammunition to Ireland.

Michael Campbell claims that these crimes were not committed of his own free will but were provoked by agents of the United Kingdom's intelligence service, denying membership of any organization Michael feels he is a victim of entrapment. Without dissecting Michael’s case it is fair to say that there are contradictions in the state’s case against him.

Michael’s brother Liam recently won a court victory and his extradition to Lithuania was ‘stayed’ due to the fact that his human rights would have been impinged had he been sent to Lukiskes or somewhere like it. (Ironic that those who run Maghaberry are opposed to regimes that impinge on human rights!! – Liam has subsequently been granted bail but is not yet released.) How do we then reconcile the fact Michael remains there?

There are question we need to ask ourselves…

  • Has the wider republican movement forgotten about Michael?
  • Is it a matter of out of sight out of mind?  
  • What can we do to show solidarity?

We can all write to Michael, although he doesn’t receive his mail consistently it still will not hurt to drop a few lines to let Michael know he hasn’t been forgotten.

Michael Campbell

Pravieniskiu pataisos namai-atviroji kolonija,

2-oji-valdyba Pravieniskiu 11 k,

Kaisiadoriu r,

LT-56552, Lithuania

You can sign onto a recent petition set up by friends of Michael and Liam.

More importantly we can bring Michael’s case to the forefront by talking about it – questioning the reasons as to why the UK government won’t extradite Lithuanian “criminals” back to their homeland, yet it is permitted for Michael to remain there indefinitely? We need to Demand his repatriation to his home country.

Solidarity and support for Michael is not about guilt or non guilt it is about remembering that he is the only Irish republican that sits in a foreign jail in despicable conditions and not enough is being done for his human rights to be respected.

It is my opinion that Michael, just like Martin Corey and Marian Price amongst many others are being used as guinea pigs by a system that wants to see how much it can/will get away with – they are setting precedents that could have serious repercussions on all Irish republicans/state dissenters at home and abroad.

*  It has come to my attention (after I wrote this piece) that Michael has been removed from Lukiskes prison and placed within another known as "Pravieniskiu Correctional Colony". Regardless of which facility he is heldwithin this inadequate prison system, we need to demand his rights are respected and he be returned to his home country.

17 comments :

AM said...

good piece Aine. It is important that there are no forgotten prisoners

itsjustmacker said...

Aine.

I think it was about 4 weeks ago that michaels plight was brought to my attention, and, I placed a link on here (TPQ) about it, with everything going on about Marian and Martin it seems things slipped peoples minds, and, I hold my hands up, I am one of those guilty people.

I have signed the petition, and will write a letter to Michael, that I promise you.

You stated that Michael denied being a member of any organization , yet, part of the petition states , " he is the only Irish Republican Political Prisoner being held in a foreign prison.", now I know this can just mean a political activist.

That's what Adams and the rest of SF call themselves these days.

I hope more people sign the petition, when I signed it stated, 42 more required.

Michael should be brought home.

lorettamurphy said...

"Bring Him Home", an original song for Michael Campbell, adapted from the poem 'Bring Him Home' written by an anonymous friend of Michael's. Support Michael and bring him back to Irish soil. http://www.reverbnation.com/thetroubles55/song/16477609-bring-him-home

marty said...

Yes good on you Aine for flagging up the dire situation Michael finds himself in,I,ve been reading elsewhere that basic needs like water are in such short supply that they (the prisoners) are forced to melt snow over live electric leads, this as most people will know is highly dangerous.when I think of Michael,s case I am reminded of John De Lorean and his arrest on drug issues De Lorean successfully argued that his involvement was due to entrapment,swap the drugs for weapons and the circumstances are exactly the same except of course De Lorean walked,Lukiskes is clearly not fit for purpose and as Lithuania is a member of the European union then the human rights of the European citizen should apply here, this out of date and notorious hell hole should be closed down and Michael should be repatriated where he could then challenge the original unsafe conviction.

Fionnuala Perry said...

Aine,
This is a great piece! I remember when he was initially sentenced watching him stand outside the court with a clenched fist-looking at him it was hard not to feel a sense of pride, anger and sadness. You have put him back in people's minds it's up to them to do the rest.

Boyne Rover said...

As we struggle to survive on a daily basis some headlines just seem to grab our attention mostly these are about bankers and their large salaries bonus’s pensions etc, then we move onto the retired politicians who can bring home up to a maximum of 3000 Euro per week until 65, plus they also receive a handout of on average 150,000.
Bastards is what most people will call them, most politicians in opposition call for this immoral practise to stop, while people are struggling to put food on the table while current and retired politicians are being happily fed at the top table.
I recently heard Gerry Adams call for this practise of draining our meagre resources to stop. Brilliant I thought here is a politician who understands our situation but alas it was a false dawn.
Gerry and Sinn Fein only allow sitting TD’s and MLA’s to take home the average industrial wage and the excess goes to Sinn Fein, Fascism is the word that sprung to mind, why if they are so concerned about the citizens don’t they only accept the average industrial wage and hand the rest back, that practise would certainly show their sincerity.
But then a very interesting story emerged one were poor Gerry who owns a holiday home had his private health bill taken care of by a very wealthy friend in America.
This friend called Bill Flynn paid Gerry’s bill in full to the sum of $35,000; at this point I began to search the dictionary for a word to describe Gerry the concerned politician,
Republican Fascist Democrat Communist, none of these apply but one that really summed up him was, Capitalist
“Somebody who is wealthy, especially somebody made rich by capitalism and considered to be greedy”

gerard hodgins said...

the erosion of basic rights, from the right to remain silent through to the despicable secret evidence clause which removes all right to hear the accusations against you and the chance to challenge them, are the price paid for an imperfect peace.
our political gurus believed all the guff the british propaganda machine spun about them being hard and tough negotiators during the long process; while the british walked them into a system of government which resurrected brian faulkner's internment and instilled in them a slavish adherence to neo-conservative economics.
the worst form of conservative is penultimately a revolutionary. it is difficult to be optimistic about the prospects for marian and martin here and infinitely more difficult to be optimistic for michael campbell when all we have in political society is a bunch of tweedle-dee tweedle-dum social climbers who despise the wretched of the earth.

sean bres said...

It's hard to argue with Gerard's assertion that the republican leadership believed the hype doing the rounds at the time that they were such tough negotiators - a leadership like no other. I, like countless others, was just as guilty of believing this bullshit if I'm honest. Others believe it yet. The familiar phrase that springs to mind is they considered themselves "the masters of realpolitik". Unfortunately for the republican movement it was someone else who was master here, the same master our expert leadership now dutifully serves up at Stormont, the same master who interns and tortures and harasses and bullies. The more things change the more things stay the same but as Gerard seems to say the ego now attached to our former leadership turned quisling prevents them from acknowledging the reality of where they've ended up. In the pocket of the Brits where they've wanted them all along... The fools, the fools, the fools

AM said...

Aine,

has made some corrections to the above piece after being advised that some of the details were incorrect. It is a minor matter because the point of the article is to have people know of Michael Campbell's situation. More people will know now than did last week so that is progress. Good job Aine.

Emmett Grogan said...

Reading some of the above posts elucidates the influence Jimmy Joyce invokes on modern language. The common man in trying to be seen as erudite ostensibly engages in a styling of writing that serves only to obfuscate his commendable dialectic.

Free your mind from drivel people. Write clearly and in everyday language.

Mackers you can see what i've done here ;)

- buzz words may arse :P

AM said...

Emmet,

the language in the comments seem pretty clear to me

sean bres said...

In layman's terms Emmet Gerry Adams lied through his teeth to the republican movement to encourage it down a road otherwise it would never have trodden. We don't need fancy language to say the Sinn Fein leadership has totally subverted the entire republican struggle for its own ends, converting a once-great movement into a political party that puts its own interests ahead of the Irish republican cause. Meeting the English Queen to ingratiate themselves with the Southern electorate, due to the media debacle of McGuinness' run for the Irish Presidency and the failure to meet Windsor in Dublin the year before, is just the latest example. Opportunism as usual trumped principle. But then we need to ask are there any principles left by this stage anyway? Luxury holiday homes, be they in Portugal or Donegal, are also a nice wee sweetener for their sell-out of the people to go along with a position at the table of their English master. Whatever happened to Disband the RUC, Oppose the Unionist Veto, No Decommissioning, No Return to Stormont? Animal Farm wouldn't have a look-in

Emmett Grogan said...

Mackers, we are all susceptible to jargon so much so that what seemed clear can, and frequently does in the laymans hands, become misconstured. One must be careful of jargon e.g - realpolitik, neoconservative, and soforth. In order for people to advance their social and political agenda they must overcome the language of the system they are opposing. What is required therefore is a deconstruction of the normative modernist, socialist/republican narrative and its language in favour of clarity and simplicity. Hermeneutics is not an easy topic to engage but trust me young Macintyre, tiz a worthy venture indeed ;)

ps - I was gonna add a mo chara or a TAL at the end there but my penchant for aesthetics won out thank god ;)

AM said...

Emmett,

what the guys said still seems straightforward to me

Niall said...

If the situation surrounding Marian Price is anytihng to go by then as a convicted prisoner there is very little chance for Michael Campbell.

AM said...

I got this info this morn:

BRING HIM HOME….

A document was recently received from the Lithuanian Government conceding they spend the minimal legal amount on provision and sustenance on Michael Campbell. (3.5 LT = Euro 1 :: 5 LT = Euro 1.45) . One Euro is equivalent to about 0.72 cents. Could you exist on that ? To recap, no water for days, no hot water, melting snow to use a toilet, which is a hole in the ground and now .72 cents worth of rations daily


This guy needs returned to Ireland immediately.

itsjustmacker said...

Anthony:

I have received an email which I attach, it backs up everything you have said regarding expenditure on Michael, Its from the petition site and not from the Lithuanian government.

"BRING HIM HOME…. A document was recently received from the Lithuanian Government conceding they spend the minimal legal amount on provision and sustenance on Michael Campbell. (3.5 LT = Euro 1 :: 5 LT = Euro 1.45) . One Euro is equivalent to about 0.72 cents. Could you exist on that ? To recap, no water for days, no hot water, melting snow to use a toilet, which is a hole in the ground and now .72 cents worth of rations daily…….I stand committed that this is a humanitarian issue that needs our attention. Please show your support and spread the word, and encourage others to sign the petition to show support for Michael Campbell and his human rights. Please don't let your committment stop with your signature........... your help to get the number of signatures up before his 15 May court date is crucial. If everyone get one friend to sign.......the numbers will be doubled, and so on............ WE NEED YOUR HELP to make an impact.


This message was sent by kl m using the Change.org system. You received this email because you signed a petition started by kl m on Change.org: "BRING HIM HOME -Support the repatriation of Michael Campbell to Ireland ."
.

I have sent Michael two letters , and , I'm not even sure he has received either of them , both had miniscule amounts within them , which I thought he could bargain with his Jailers. Its imperative that Michaels dilemma be kept to the forefront and he is not forgotten about, lets not forget, BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER, especially IRISH BLOOD because more than enough of it has been spilt, and we all know, in this era, it wasn't for a united Ireland!.

BRING Michael Campbell HOME.

Just put yourselves in his situation, not knowing what is happening, not knowing if anyone is supporting him , not knowing if he will ever see his beloved Ireland, Ever Again.