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John Bowden: Prisoner Support is not Terrorism

imc-uk-features | 05.06.2007 09:00 | Repression

On Saturday May 25th, activists held a demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament, as part of the growing Hands off John Bowden campaign. The demo was called by a group of Friends of John Bowden as an International Day of Solidarity. John Bowden is a long-term prison resister, who has spent more than a quarter of a century fighting for prisoners’ rights, and is now being kept in jail because of his politics rather than because of his original conviction. Brighton Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) has called for another demo outside the London Parole Board HQ on Friday 8th June at noon.

Articles by John Bowden: Uprising at Shotts prison | Brutality at Full Sutton | When is a Prison Reformer Not a Prison Reformer? | David Blunket Sanctioned The Machine Gunning Of Rioting Prisoners | "Riff-raff" prisoners? | Investigation into racist abuse at Whitemoor Prison

Hands Off John Bowden
Hands Off John Bowden

John Bowden spent much of his childhood in the care system, and as a young man was one of three men involved in a murder. His co-accused have both been released, and in 2006 John was moved to an open prison, and began a series of weekend leave in what appeared to be a programme of preparation for his release. He also began working with mentally and physically vulnerable people in the local community.

According to Joe Black of Brighton Anarchist Black Cross, the prison service decided that John had "formed an inappropriate attachment" to his social worker, and a decision was made to allocate an independent social worker to write a report for the parole hearing. The social worker chosen was an American called Matt Stillman, a right winger who wrote a report alleging that John was "linked to terrorism".

Whilst John's original crime was not politically motivated, he became politicised after entering the prison system, and has been a a long-term prisoner resister and an articulate opponent of injustice, who has built links with Brighton and Leeds ABC. It was these links that social worker Matt Stillman focused on in his official report dated 12th March 2007, where he wrote:

"Bowden has written for a self-proclaimed anarchist website called ABC Brighton, and says he supports many of their ideals and actions. A review of this website brings into question the nature of this group. The members of this group appear to be primarily eco-terrorists or para-military members involved in what they see as battles against political systems and principles.....".

"In a previous report from HMP Edinburgh it was reported that Bowden had received visits from people involved in terrorism."

As a result of Matt Stillman's report, John has now been ghosted to closed conditions at HMP Glenochil.

Brighton and Leeds ABC strongly deny any links to terrorism, and the intervention is yet another example of attempts to brand the anarchist movement as terrorist so that a clampdown can be orchestrated under cover of the so-called 'War on Terror'. Any prisoner who builds links with the ABC which provides material and legal support, as well as political literature to prisoners, is likely to face similar pressures.

UK Links: Friends of John Bowden | Leeds ABC | Brighton ABC | Manchester ABC | History of Anarchist Black Cross (ABC)

International Links: Women's Anarchist Black Cross | Anarchist Black Cross (Australia) | Anarchist Black Cross Network | Anarchist Black Cross Federation | ABC Copenhagen



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