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PALESTINIAN prisoners sent a message of solidarity to their US counterparts who went on strike in jails across 17 states on Tuesday over conditions that they have branded “modern slavery.”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) released a statement in support of the US prison strikers “fighting exploitation, racism and capitalism from within the heart of imperialist prisons.”
The Palestinians, who were jailed for their participation “in struggle for the liberation of our land and people from colonialism and occupation,” hailed the prison strike as “a struggle of oppressed and exploited workers, first and foremost, confronting the unmasked brutality of capitalism behind bars.”
The US prison strike started on August 21, the 47th anniversary of the murder of Black Panthers member George Jackson by prison officers in San Quentin jail.
Organised by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a group of prisoners providing help and training to other inmates, the strike aims to end conditions of “modern slavery” in US penal institutions.
Prisoners across at least 17 US states are refusing to work, holding sit-ins and going on hunger strike to highlight the “human rights abuses” behind bars, where inmates say they are being treated like “animals.”
They issued a list of 10 demands, including improved prison conditions, an end to sentences of life without parole – or “death by incarceration,” increased budgets for rehabilitation programmes; an end to the disenfranchisement of roughly six million people who are not allowed to vote and an immediate abolition of compulsory labour, which the strike organisers describe as a modern form of slavery.
The US incarcerates more of its population than any other country in the world, with 2.2 million people – one in 110 of the population – in jail, according to government statistics.
Some of the worlds biggest multinational companies, including Microsoft, American Airlines, Starbucks, BP, Victoria’s Secret, Walmart and McDonald's use prison labour schemes to boost their profits.
Organisers warned that many of the strike leaders are being placed in solitary confinement.
“Other inmates have been warned that if they continue to contact advocacy groups, they will be moved to the most brutal camps,” said Karen Smith of the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee.
The PFLP statement said the victory of the US prison strike would be a victory for Palestine and “for all of the struggles against imperialism, racism and oppression in the United States and globally.”
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