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Political Prisoners Hunger Strike in France

By Jean Marc Rouillan

[Editors note: this article is translated and based on a letter from Jean Marc to one of PLN's editors.] FRESNES, FRANCE

The latest struggle here in France is a rolling hunger strike, one of us will not eat for a week, then another won't eat and so on, and other prisoners are also going on strikes and other forms of struggle and agitation. Our demand is an end to our isolation in control units, this is something that affects all French prisoners.

In July of 1989, members of Direct Action ended our second hunger strike after being assured by the Ministry of Justice that we would be re-grouped in units of two and be treated in compliance with French law. This was soon shown to be untrue and we were progressively subjected to a new form of isolation.

Special control units of arbitrariness, prohibitions and restrictions were made for us, completely isolated from the prison population, with no recreation activities, work, study or sports available to us. We were/are locked in our cells all day except for the 2-1/2 to 3 hours a day we are allowed to walk in a small yard with 2 or 3 prisoners chosen by the prison administration.

Since summer our mail and visits are extremely censored, we can only receive personal mail and certain publications (PLN, Bulldozer and Arm the Spirit get through fine, but other political journals are totally banned.)

The official compromise was never respected and the small gains we made have been slowly whittled away. Political prisoners have resisted this repression, the control units are a hypocritical facade to maintain the fiction that in a "democratic" regime there are no political prisoners, only criminals. For the state, no struggle can be political if it is not integrated into the official system.

From control units to living units (where groups of 5 to 20 prisoners are cut off from the rest of the prison), to a system of differences and individualization, all is done to destroy unity and solidarity among the prison population, to isolate each prisoner before an oppressive institution; to break collective struggles. France is building 13,000 new prison cells based on the American example to be able to increase its social repression.

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