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Ten Years Is Enough; Belgian POWs Seek Freedom

In 1984 and 1985 the Communist Fighting Cells (CCC) attacked imperialist and capitalist interests in Belgium. Among the targets attacked were banks (including the Bank of America), NATO headquarters, the federation of big employers, energy companies, etc. On December 16, 1985, Pascale Vandegeerde, Bertrand Sassoye, Pierre Carette and Didier Chevolet were arrested as members of the CCC and accused of carrying out the attacks. From the time of their arrest the prisoners were subjected to extraordinarily harsh prison conditions, including three years of total isolation, which was denounced at the time by Amnesty International. After two hunger strikes they obtained almost normal prison conditions comparable to those enjoyed by other prisoners.

In October, 1988, the four CCC members were sentenced to life in prison following a rigged and scandalous trial. For example, Pascale and Didier were sentenced for actions that took place before they even joined the organization!

Whatever one's views of the prisoners' actions and ideas, it is readily apparent that they were convicted and sentenced because of their politics. Their actions were never motivated by personal gain or self-interest but out of working class interest and solidarity. Under Belgian law prisoners are eligible for release after serving one third of their sentence. In this case, all four of the prisoners have been eligible for release since December 16, 1995. However, the Belgian ministry of justice refuses to abide by its own laws believing that prisoners with revolutionary politics should be punished more harshly than those with no politics.

We, the Association of Friends and Family of Communist Prisoners, are asking people around the world to mobilize for the prisoners' liberation. We see it as a duty of solidarity for us, their friends and family, as well as for all sincere revolutionaries and democrats. We do not agree that the government should keep these revolutionaries in prison solely because they refuse to abandon their political identity. These comrades are not staying in prison because of what they did yesterday but because of the political opinions they hold today. They must be released.

For more information about the prisoners, the campaign for their release and what you can do to help please contact the Association at: BP 6, Saint Gilles 1, 1060 Brussels, Belgium.

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