Friday, August 12, 2011
Statements from Greg Curry, Siddique Abdullah Hasan (including audio) and Bomani Shakur for RedBird Prison Abolition's workshop at the Anarchist Black Cross conference in Denver CO August of 2011.
Audio Recording of Hasan's statement delivered via telephone at the conference: http://insurgenttheatre.org/hasan_conference_audio.mp3
What Makes Me a Political Prisoner?
By Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan
Before I begin my talk on “What Makes Me a Political Prisoner?” I want to express
my deepest appreciation and gratitude to each and every one of you for attending
this year’s national conference and for showing your love, support and utmost
concern for what the Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) represents. Likewise, I want
to express my deepest appreciation and gratitude to Ben, Kate, Weslie, Alec, D.
Jones, Noelle, and to all those unknown names that have made it possible for me
to speak at this conference. It is truly an honor and privilege to be able to address
this progressive and prestigious body. And, although I have never spoken at
either a local or national conference for your group, I hope and pray that I will not
disappoint you nor my supporters who are counting on me to make a solid case for
why I need your national support and recognition as a political prisoner. So let us
It is my unflinching position that there are scores of political prisoners confined in
the United States; however, the U.S. government adamantly maintains that there
are no political prisoners incarcerated in its penal system. This arrogant and
imperialistic government has even failed to acknowledge the political status of such
well-known personalities as Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier. Thus, I intend
to debunk government denials while laying down a clear and definitive criterion
of what makes someone a political prisoner in the hopes that some of the political
spotlight will not only shine on myself, but also on others who were convicted of
fabricated charges stemming from the 1993 maximum-security prison uprising that
rocked the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio.
SOCF or Lucasville, as it’s widely known, was an infamous prison that had a history
of prisoner deaths, stabbings, rapes, assaults and other violence. More often than
not, prison guards would either instigate the prisoner-on-prisoner violence or
were the perpetrators of it themselves. In short, there was a long train of abusive
treatment, inhumane conditions and brutalities suffered by prisoners.
Tensions mounted over the planned Mantoux tuberculin test that contains phenol,
an alcoholic substance which is prohibited for Muslims to have injected into their
forearms. While the TB test was the last straw which broke the camel’s back, the
prison was a tinder-box ready to be ignited. The Muslims’ intention was to stage
a peaceful protest to bring political attention to the planned inoculation, with the
hopes that the prison authorities would capitulate to us submitting to an alternative
that would not infringe upon the tenets of our faith. Instead of a peaceful protest,
frustrated and angry non-Muslims seize the opportunity and converted what was
intended to be a peaceful protest into a full-scale rebellion.
Rising as one, with racial differences ignored, Black and White prisoners put aside
their artificial differences, prison labels, and stood united against the oppressive
powers that be: the prisoncrats. By the time the uprising had ended, one prison
guard and nine prisoners had been killed in the longest prison uprising in the
history of the United States.
In the aftermath of this uprising, the state of Ohio was under enormous political
pressure to bring to justice the perpetrators of certain violent crimes, especially
the senseless murder of prison guard Robert Vallandingham. And if the truth
must be told, the State was only interested in obtaining a swift conviction for
Vallandingham’s murder. Because of my leadership position within the Islamic
community, as well as the fact that it was the planned inoculation that inadvertently
caused the uprising, I became the prime scapegoat and, by implication, the
bogeyman who controlled what others did.
The political pressure to seek justice in the guard’s murder became so intense that
a citizens’ committee sought, during the summer and fall of 1993, to ensure that
whoever was condemned to death after the Lucasville uprising would be executed
as rapidly as possible. The same committee also drafted a petition to then-Governor
George Voinovich and to members of the Ohio State Legislature—in particular, to
the President of the Ohio Senate and the Speaker of the Ohio House—calling on
them to USE the Death Penalty! While this petition was drafted by citizens of the
county in which the uprising happened, it was circulated throughout Ohio and was
signed by more than 26,000 persons. When no prisoners initially came forward
with any information leading to the guard’s killer or killers, the State bowed to
public pressure and decided to lay the blame at the doorsteps of the prisoner
leaders and spokespersons. This is how I ended up being charged with the guard’s
murder. Mind you, the claim has never been that I murdered the guard; instead, my
prosecutors claimed that I was in a meeting where you could secretly hear prisoners
discussing killing a guard if their demands were not met. It’s interesting to note that
the lead investigator from the Ohio State Highway Patrol has said under oath that
my voice is not heard on this secretly recorded audiotape.
Like Leonard Peltier, I have been framed up. No one, and no piece of evidence, has
identified me as a killer of the guard, and the one person who erroneously claimed
that I had ordered the guard’s murder has recanted his testimony. He now says,
in two separate affidavits, that he was “coerced by the prosecutors to lie on me.”
The reality is: I was active, very outspoken in protesting the oppressive prison
conditions and policies, and was a revolutionary in both words and deeds. Thus, I
became a target of the State.
It is my contention that a convict becomes a political prisoner when he is a target
of government repression solely because of political beliefs or social respectability.
Prisoners demonstrating leadership among the prison population is the most
vulnerable to heavy-handedness. This means that persecution can result from
espousing a political ideology that venerates African culture, or being a member of
any of the Islamic groups. The unity, discipline, and political awareness of members
of these groups are what cause heightened consternation among prison staff. This
insecurity derives from the fact that such prisoners are recalcitrant to control or
manipulation. Commendable behavior in society is criminalized by prison agencies.
When a group or an individual gains considerable moral respect and standing
among prisoners, the prison authorities are likely to designate the individual or the
entire group as a Security Threat Group.
In conclusion, although I committed no crimes, the state of Ohio used my religious
convictions and political beliefs as a tool to have me prosecuted and sentenced to
death. I am asking for your organizational support in helping me to gain my rightful
freedom back into society, which is too hard for me to conceive achieving alone.
From death row, this is Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan
Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan, R130-559
Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road
Youngstown, Ohio 44505
Imam Hasan is looking for political support from concerned persons—professors,
students, journalists, radio and news personalities, religious and community
leaders, activists, etc.—who are ready, willing and able to help him build a
movement to expose the gross miscarriage of justice in his case. To learn more
about Imam Hasan’s case, log onto www.lucasvilleamnesty.org and see his web
pages at www.facebook.com/siddique.hasan and www.myspace.com/freesahasan.