A jail manager at HMP Glenochil in Stirlingshire has decreed that any material, written or musical, that is critical of the US detention/torture center on Guantanamo Bay is banned from being circulated within the jail.
Kate Middleton, a senior manager at Glenochil, in a written reply to a prisoner’s complaint that a music c.d. handed in for him by a visitor was being withheld from him on the grounds that it was ‘sectarian’, said: ‘Apart from the issue of the disk being a copy, it contains several very political tracks, e.g. a track regarding Guantanamo Bay, which may cause offence to certain people living and working in this establishment.’ Apart from the obvious question of how many of the Scottish working class prisoners at Glenochil would feel outraged and offended by criticism of the torture regime operating at Guantanamo, an equally obvious question is why Kate Middleton is being allowed to censure information and criticism, in whatever form, concerning Guantanamo Bay, or indeed any major world issue, within the prison?
Unfortunately, within the hidden and totalitarian world of prison, right-wing bigots and confirmed fascists tend to occupy positions of omnipotent power over prisoners, and see their role as one not just of controlling and containing the body of the prisoner, but essentially the mind as well.
When Kate Middleton was challenged by the prisoner to define ‘sectarianism’ in relation to criticism of Guantanamo Bay, she wrote: “I did use the term sectarian instead of political, wrong word.” Obviously wrong politics as well as far as Middleton is concerned, especially when the politics concerned are informed by a concern for human rights.
Criticism of the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is now world-wide and expressed by governments and every leading human rights organisation around the globe, and yet within a state institution staffed by individuals supposedly answerable to the public, an individual such as Kate Middleton has a free, unrestrained hand to ban and suppress any material remotely critical of Guantanamo Bay.
The human right to express and share information and ideas critical of established systems of power, and the abuse of that power, is established in international and UK law, but unfortunately, not here apparently within an institution where a senior manager feels some affinity with her colleagues running Guantanamo Bay.
9 August 2007