We must speak out for Marian Price
Irish political prisoner Marian Price is facing a severe health crisis at the hands of the British government.
Price received a full royal pardon for convictions in bombings when she was freed in 1980 because she appeared to be on the brink of death from severe anorexia nervosa--the result of being force-fed more than 300 times when she was on hunger strike in a British prison.
Instead of being allowed to live in freedom, however, Price has twice been arrested under Northern Ireland's special security laws. Twice, a judge has ordered that she be released on bail. Instead, she has remained imprisoned.
On June 22, just days before UN-appointed doctors were due to visit her in Hydebank Prison, Price was moved to a secure hospital unit in Belfast. According to a statement by her family, the media was alerted about the move before they were. Price's family and husband Jerry McGlinchey have expressed concern about this latest move, saying that past moves made on medical grounds have proved detrimental to, and even exacerbated, Marian's complex medical conditions.
Below, in an introduction to a pamphlet produced by the Prisons Crisis Group, Northern Ireland civil rights leader and former member of parliamentpresents an overview of the injustice in the treatment of Marian Price at the hands of the British state.
MARIAN PRICE has been imprisoned in Maghaberry and Hydebank prisons in Northern Ireland since May 2011 and spent almost all of that time in solitary confinement.
Marian should not be in prison. She has been granted bail twice. On each occasion, the authority of the Northern Ireland judicial system has been usurped by the UK-appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, who has ordered her return to prison. Northern Ireland has a minister for Justice, a Department of Justice and a Parole Commission. These institutions deny any responsibility for her continuing detention, claiming to be powerless to intervene.
If you're in New York City, join the Free Marian Price Campaign for "An Evening in Solidarity with Marian Price," on June 27 at 7 p.m. at O'Lunney's Times Square Pub, 145 W. 45th St. (between 6th and 7th Avenues), featuring Malacy McCourt, Peter Quinn, John Duddy, Mary Courtney, Larry Kirwan, Michael Patrick MacDonald, Chris Byrne, Andrew Harkin and Maura Mulligan.
This reality is not compatible with the belief that Northern Ireland has a functioning democracy in which the independence and authority of the courts is respected by the political machine or has a functioning democracy where authority has been devolved to the local Stormont Assembly. Power over secret police activity continues to rest in the sole authority of Secret Intelligence Service MI5.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland claims to have secret intelligence that Marian Price may be a danger to the state.
In any open, democratic society, the place for adjudication of guilt or innocence is in a court of law through due process. Marian Price has spent more than a year in prison without trial, the length of time itself a violation: On this basis, the initial charge against her has been dismissed.
In "post-conflict" Northern Ireland, Marian is not the only prisoner detained without trial in this way. But her case is urgent and becoming critical. More broadly, her case reflects the increasing powerlessness of global organizations, including the UN, to defend human rights in Syria, Palestine and throughout the world.
This should be a matter of deep concern, as should the growing confidence with which Western powers deride the idea that they, too, like "lesser" nations, should be held accountable for the protection of rights in their own jurisdictions.
Whether it is Northern Ireland, Palestine, the U.S. or China, we need to defend the right to open, transparent due process and just implementation of laws to protect our rights not diminish them. We must demand and exercise solidarity with all those whose rights are trampled underfoot simply because governments feel strong enough to ride roughshod over due process and international obligation to respect and protect the integrity, dignity and freedom of the human beings they despise, not for anything they may or may not have done, but simply because of who and what they are--or what political overlords believe them to be.
Each violation, wherever it occurs, threatens the rights, humanity and integrity of all of us and must be challenged by all of us, or in time, none of us will have any democratically enforceable rights at all.