Socialist Worker

Satpal Ram is innocent

Issue No. 1767

THE struggle to free Satpal Ram continues, despite the home secretary's decision to overrule the recommendation of the parole board for him to be released immediately. On only three occasions in the last 20 years have home secretaries overuled recommendations by the parole board.

The two earlier cases involved the Birmingham Six and the Bridgewater Four, both high profile cases of miscarriages of justice. Satpal Ram has been imprisoned for 15 years. After he was racially attacked he defended himself. His attacker died later, and Satpal was convicted of murder.

At his trial he was not given a chance to speak in his own defence. Satpal has always protested his innocence, and has openly campaigned against injustice. Prison authorities have subjected Satpal to over 70 prison moves as part of a campaign of reprisals.

He has once again been moved to a high security prison. We are demanding that Satpal is returned to an open prison. Questions need to be asked about Satpal's treatment-the cycle of prison transfers, ill treatment and use of solitary confinement he's been put through. He is an innocent man.

Campaigners and supporters are gathering our forces to push for the Criminal Cases Review Commission to accept Satpal's appeal to get his conviction overturned. We are demanding that Satpal is released. For information on how you can support the campaign go to www.appleonline.net/satpal
PANDIT G, Asian Dub Foundation, London


UDA are behind the Holy Cross School attacks

PEOPLE RIGHTLY feel absolute horror at Catholic schoolgirls attending Holy Cross School being forced to run a gauntlet of sectarian abuse in Glenbryn, North Belfast.

Why all of a sudden is it no longer permitted for Catholics to enter this area? Glenbryn has long been a Unionist area. However, after a Loyalist feud on the Shankill Road last year a number of hardline Ulster Defence Association (UDA) members were put out of their homes. They moved into Glenbryn.

The UDA pay lip service to support for the Good Friday agreement. They continue to kill innocent Catholics. The overwhelming feeling from both Catholics and Protestants is that we can't let the actions of a minority push us back to the bad old days.

A petition began being circulated by socialist teachers in a Protestant school and a Catholic school in Belfast. Over 110 teachers signed it in the first afternoon. The petition calls for action including stoppages by the teaching unions if the protests don't stop, and is now in nearly every school in Belfast.

The media portrays the Holy Cross scenes as proof of widespread sectarianism in Northern Ireland. Socialists have the confidence to not only argue that this is not true, but to prove it.
BARBARA, Northern Ireland


Refugees fight back

I AND others in the Portsmouth area would like to express solidarity with detainees at the Haslar holding centre in Gosport. After the High Court judgement that it was unlawful for the government to detain four Iraqi Kurds at Oakington, detained asylum seekers in Haslar decided to hold a sit-down protest.

Detainees sat in the corridor refusing to go into their dormitories. They were calling for their immediate release. Prison management stopped all legal and social visits, cut phone connections and sent in prison riot squads.

Some 32 detainees have been taken to prisons in either Wandsworth, Pentonville, Wormwood Scrubs or Exeter. Surely it would make more sense to jail the people responsible for human rights violations and not the victims of torture and persecution.
ROSIE BREMER, Portsmouth Campaign to Defend Asylum Seekers


The behaviour of Robert Kilroy Silk when his TV programme discussed the asylum seeker issue recently was outrageous. In the warm-up Kilroy urged people to speak up and argue vigorously. When refugees did this he put them down. At times he became outright offensive and racist.

When an Iranian Kurd woman tried to put her case he told her, 'This is England -wait your turn.' Some of us protested about his outrageous conduct. When the programme was broadcast these incidents were edited out.
JOHN MOLYNEUX, Portsmouth


Short shrift

WHILE IN Indonesia recently, I read an article in the Jakarta Post about a fantastic strike by 8,000 workers who made Adidas shoes. The three-day stoppage over low pay caused significant losses to the local company, PT Panurab.

In retaliation, the company called in the police to jail Ngadinah, a 29 year old woman, leader of the Leather and Garment workers Union. She earned just $2 (US) a day. Ngadinah was charged with 'inciting violence against the authorities'. To spontaneous applause from a courtroom full of 150 fellow workers, she was released with a suspended sentence.

Anti-globalisation is not a 'Western indulgence', as Claire Short shamefully suggests. Western workers, alongside millions of people in developing countries, are fighting a common struggle for a better world.
ANDY MINETT, South London


Don't call me a racist

WHAT DO I mean when I say I am a Zionist? I just mean that there should be a state called 'Israel', in whatever form that takes. It should be open for Jews of whatever kind-defined by that state in extremely broad terms-to settle there.

It doesn't matter who else lives there. This is not racist at all. Terrible and evil crimes were done in 1948 and since in the name of Zionism, not a single one of them justified. Zionism racist? Faz-me favour-that's Jewish for do me a favour. Zionism does not have to be racist.
A JEW


Che was for the workers

IN EACH of the four trade union offices that I have visited in Colombia, Che Guevara's image is given pride of place. I have seen pictures of Che in the shanties of the Philippines and in the shacks of illegal African immigrants in southern Spain.

The oppressed workers of the world know that Che was not just a beautiful face but had beautiful politics. He dared to fight against imperialism. Che never ignored the working class. And the working class will always honour his contribution.

It is a great shame that the Socialist Workers Party cannot see this. You should rethink your sectarian position on Cuba.
ANDY HIGGINBOTTOM, London


'Union won big'

I WOULD like to express my thanks to all those trade unionists and campaigners who supported the campaign to win my reinstatement. I spoke out to the press about the crisis in the homeless service, in my capacity as housing convenor.

For this I was suspended by Manchester housing management. My reinstatement represents a turning point, and an opportunity to build wider opposition to the New Labour government's plans for council services. The anger of UNISON members was very apparent in the willingness to take industrial action if balloted.

More stewards have been elected in the last few weeks, so building on this is the next key step for union activists.

UNISON members in Manchester housing now feel a lot more confident. There is a feeling that 'the union won, and the management lost bigtime', and its going to be a bit more difficult to push us around.
RICHARD SEARLE, housing convenor Manchester UNISON housing shop stewards' committee


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Article information

Letters
Sat 22 Sep 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1767
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