This week we feature two segments. The first is a roundtable discussion with producers from various audio projects around North America that focus on prisoner struggles and amplifying incarcerated voices. In the chat you’ll hear from me, two producers of The Prison Radio show on CFRC radio in Kingston, Ontario, a producer of the Prison Radio Show on CKUT from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and a producer of the June11 audio series released this last year and revving to mark the day in solidarity with Marius Mason and other long term anarchist and ecological prisoners.
Follow-Up with Walid Zazai on Manus Island
The second conversation is an update from Walid Zazai, the 24 year old Afghani man being held on Manus Island off of the coast of Papua New Guinea. Walid has been in detention for 4 years now awaiting resettlement at the pleasure of the government of Australia. We spoke with Walid two weeks ago after the Manus Regional Processing Centre in which he was living had been closed and he and roughly 450 other refugees stayed in protest of their longtime lack of freedom of movement and the violence they feared from PNG security forces and locals on the island. More coverage of the struggle immigrants against the Australian border authorities and other updates from the Oceania can be found on the long running Anarchist radio show based there, Subversion1312. Subversion1312 is also a recently added member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts.
Now For Some Fun Events
If you’re in the Asheville area today (December 3rd 2017), at 5pm at Firestorm Books and Coffee, Blue Ridge ABC will be hosting it’s monthly letter writing session, where you can swing by, find out about political prisoners in the U.S., write to some with upcoming birthdays and meet other local radicals. After that, tonight at 8pm at the Lazy Diamond, 98-A, North Lexington Ave in downtown Asheville, comrades will be hosting a Radical Trivia night to benefit the 2nd Asheville Carolina Anarchist Bookfair, or ACAB2018, planned for this summer. Alone or in teams, you are invited to test your wits on subjects of Black Liberation, Anarchist History, Queer Resistance and more. A cash prize will go to the winning team or individual.
This week on the Final Straw we feature 2 interviews.
Walid, an asylum seeker held at the Manus Regional Process Center, Papua New Guinea
First up, you’ll hear a conversation that Bursts had with a refugee seeking asylum in Australia. His name is Walid, he is 24 years old and from Afghanistan. Manus Regional Processing Centre, where Walid is being held alongside nearly 450 other men, is a facility on Papua New Guinea on the PNG Lombrum Naval Base. The processing center, from here out called Manus for short or MRPC, was run up until October 31st by the Spanish multinational company Grupo Ferrovial on behalf of the Australian Government as a way of off-shoring the housing of people seeking asylum. The center was closed October 31st after the Papuan Supreme Court determined the facility unconstitutional in breech of the promise of personal liberty.
So, the Australian government withdrew it’s medical workers, shut off electricity and water and food shipments. However, the residents of MRPC have refused to be resettled into other facilities in PNG due to fears of physical harm by members of the PNG Defence Forces, as is alleged to have happened in April of this year, as well as violence coming from local gangs wielding machetes and other weapons. The population of the island is just short of 6,000 people and locals have expressed concern that resettlement would affect their economy greatly. In the conversation, Walid mentions two fellows from the MRPC who were found recently hung by their necks in the jungle near the Processing Centre as a proof of danger the refugees face if they leave the premises.
The Obama administration had agreed in 2016 to resettle many of Australia’s asylum seekers. However, do you remember that first presidential phone call that Trump made, where he ended by saying it was a stupid deal and it was the worst conversation ever? That was #45 chatting with Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull about the resettlement deal for refugees on Nauru and Manus Islands. Cancelling that at the time fed into the issues in PNG & Australia’s national politics with the refugees being caught in the middle as pawns. The U.S. has now apparently changed it’s tune about the Asylum seekers, having applied for whatever “extreme vetting” it was seeking and has taken in 24 of the men and resettling them.
I will admit to being a bit ignorant of the situation in Manus that people like Walid are facing, but what I do understand is this: borders are imprisoning some of the most marginalized people fleeing dangerous situations and holding them in dire circumstances. The men at the Manus Regional Processing Centre are refusing to leave for fear of their lives and in hopes of reaching a safer space and are being starved by bureaucracy. And many Australians are voicing a desire to resettle these people on the mainland.
We at the Final Straw wish the residents of MRPC the best of luck and solidarity and will continue to air their words as we receive them.
Aaaaalso, a big big big thanks to Linda from Subversion1312 podcast for helping us make this contact with Walid and with some pointers on the questions. Definitely check out their work, it’s (under various names) one of the longer running English-language anarchist radio shows and is jam packed
Sara Falconer and Daniel McGowan on the 2018 Certain Days Calendar for Political Prisoners
Secondly, we are airing an interview presented recently by the Which Side media collective with Sara Falconer and Daniel McGowan about the 2018 Certain Days Calendar for Political Prisoners. Jordan Halliday and Jeremy Parkin host the interview, and range along a wide array of ideas and topics.
From the show notes “The calendar is a joint fundraising and educational project between outside organizers in Montreal and Toronto, and three political prisoners being held in maximum-security prisons in New York State: David Gilbert, Robert Seth Hayes and Herman Bell. The initial project was suggested by Herman, and has been shaped throughout the process by all of our ideas, discussions, and analysis. All of the members of the outside collective are involved in day-to-day organizing work other than the calendar, on issues ranging from refugee and immigrant solidarity to community media to prisoner justice. We work from an anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, feminist, queer and trans positive position.”
If you’d like to hear The Final Straw’s conversation with Herman Bell’s daughter in law Dr Kihana Ross which details the incident mentioned in the interview plus some more about his case, you can visit our website.
Whichside Podcast is a member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts, of which we are as well. Check out our website for a steady stream of up to date anarchist audios and keep an eye out for our mobile app coming soon.
Audios of Interest:
Just a heads up, if you missed it. we launched our occasionally weekly intro to tech security podcast series, Error451 this week with a conversation on safer approaches to burner phones. Check it out and keep an ear out for more!