Solidarity with California prisoners on hunger strike!

solidarity-hungerSamidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses our solidarity and support with the US prisoners in California prisons who have announced plans to launch their hunger strike on July 8 with a national and international day of action. The prisoners have five key demands for their strike:

1. End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse.
2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria.
3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006. Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement.
4. Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food.
5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for those living in the SHU.

Prisoners throughout California launched hunger strikes for these demands, beginning in July 2011 in the Security Housing Unit of California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. The three-week strike expanded to include 6600 prisoners. The strike ended when the California Department of Corrections pledged to review the demands and implement reforms. However, in September of that year, after no action, 12,000 prisoners across California resumed their hunger strike.  The Pelican Bay prisoners called off the strike on October 13th, when the CDCR again promised serious reforms and reviews of the use of solitary confinement and isolation.

Now, without progress over almost two years, the prisoners in California are launching their strike again. Prisoners continue to be sentenced to lifetimes in solitary confinement because they are labelled “gang affiliated” over such matters as tattoos, cultural art, or reading material. Youth prisoners in Washington have also announced their intention to join the strike.

Over 2 million people are imprisoned in the US and over 60% of those people are people of colour, subject to a distinctly racialized system that routinely criminalizes youth of colour, in sharp contrast to the crime rate, which has fallen while imprisonment has risen. Mass incarceration is deeply racialized, as 1/3 of young Black men are in the criminal justice system. The US holds 25% of the world’s prisoners with 5% of the world’s population, and prisoner resistance and political action has been sharply repressed.

As we stand against apartheid, racism, and Zionism in Palestine, we stand against racism and oppression in the US and around the world. Solitary confinement is a mechanism of torture, from Palestine to Pelican Bay to Guantanamo, and we stand in solidarity with the courageous prisoners who challenge isolation and oppression. The US is Israel’s key international supporter, ally, and economic/military supplier, and maintains regimes of mass imprisonment for social control both in occupied Palestine and in its own prisons.

For more information on how you can support the California prisoners’ action, please see their blog:

Take action and sign the Pledge of Resistance with the California Hunger Strikers: