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Prison officials retaliate against organizing with fake charges of Islamic terrorism

Gerry Bello

There are forgeries and there are fakes. In the Art world, the difference is quality. Extending that metaphor, the Ohio Department of Corrections just made a Mona Lisa knockoff using finger paint on a paper bag. One might laugh, pat them on the head and blood test them for lead poisoning, but this is not art, this is retaliatory discipline. Their fake charges have placed one man in isolation without contact with his family, lawyer and access to phones. Other prisoners are on hunger strike in support of him.

Siddique Abdullah Hasan was placed in solitary confinement for a disciplinary infraction on Thursday August 18th. Hasan is one of the leaders of the Free Ohio Movement, a group of prisoners working to end prison slavery and other human rights abuses in the Ohio prison system. Hasan had been organizing through the bars for an upcoming national prison labor strike on September 9th.

The infraction claims that during a prayer meeting the previous week, Hasan attempted to induce the free lance Imam to bring a suicide vest into the prison. The prison claims the Imam alerted them to this request.

The allegation does not specify if the Imam was to purchase said vest at Target or Wallmart. Suicide Vests require major technical infrastructure to produce. There is no information as to why the prison authorities, so concerned about their own safety, waited more than a week after the alleged tip to isolate Hasan. There appears to be some connection between the timing of the infraction and the increased organizing. Hasan was slated to speak by telephone to a prisoner rights conference on August 26th.

Conspiracy to manufacture or use a weapon of mass destruction is a federal capital crime. There are no federal charges or state charges in this case, simply a prison disciplinary action that will keep Hasan from contacting his family, lawyers and supporters in the time leading up to and during the upcoming prison strike.

Ohio based companies such as Wendys, the Limited and Abbot Laboratories make an astonishing amount of profit from nearly unpaid prison labor. This pattern is repeated around the country and local organizers are planning a major conference on August 26th to support organizing on the inside around this issue. The prisoners organizing inside the system are joined by similar committees in Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and other states. IWOC has over 1000 members building support inside the prison system nationally alongside statewide groups in the five named states.

Free Ohio Movement members on the inside have begun a hunger strike in protest of the actions of the Imam, whom they wish to replace, and the prison authorities. This hunger strike echos a hunger strike in Wisconsin, where organizers have been without food for 73 days and being force fed for the last 63. Calls made to the prison at 330-743-0700 have not produced a comment from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections on their plans to force feed hunger strikers.

The Free Ohio Movement is calling that same 330-743-0700 number to demand Hasan's release from solitary. They are encouraging people to do the same.

Siddique Abdullah Hasan is on death row as one of the leaders of the Lucasville prison uprising of 1993. Major prosecutorial misconduct by notorious fixer Mark Piepmeier, who never fails to convict a rebelling prisoner but always fails to convict a police officer in a bad shooting. His use of false evidence against Siddique Abdullah Hasan and others was amply documented in a book and essay series by noted historian Staughton Lynd. This pattern of false charges continues in Ohio's Gulag to this day.