Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Their Dream is Our Nightmare: How the Prison Industry is Holding the Human Rights Movement Hostage

Civil rights eras of the past convey inspiration and hope. Hunger strikes have been used as a technique throughout history as a mechanism of both awareness and prayer. It is a sacrifice indicative of struggle and a plea to end oppression. It is symbolic and meaningful in this way, in many ways symbolic of strength in the face of adversity. The will to survive when deprived of necessary elements. This will is a source of inspiration and solidarity for that struggle. It brings public awareness to a cause often greater than the hunger strike itself, bringing awareness to suffering and a call for alleviation of it.

The private prison industry has a lot of power. It has a lot of money, influence, and is well connected with many people within the system. It IS the system. It can detain, incapacitate, steal, silence, torture, and kill. It represents an unchecked authority that is sick with power. This sickness continues infect society as long as it remains unchallenged.

Comprehensive immigration reform is a legal reflection this sickness. With the border surge amendment included, S. 744 allocates billions of dollars to the private prison industry, military contractors, and border patrol. It ensures that the industry is well endowed with money, prisoners, lots of ammo, and and much more. 

So how are nonprofit human rights organizations addressing these injustices? Do they make people aware of these discrepancies? Do they fight against militarization? Nope. Instead they put on a hunger strike to promote Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Instead they deceptively work to promote the very system they claim to campaign against—feeding into their prison industry power with legislation ensuring their profits.

I have to give it to the private prison industry. They are master minds! They have the perfect set up. With the nonprofit orgs now in full effect promoting CIR... hunger striking even... the prison industry now has a perfect hostage situation in which all of their demands are met and more. The nonprofit orgs are there, eager and ready to throw up signs, rally their paid cheerleaders, and fast for the cause. But what cause is this? Taken at face value, it sounds like they want to stop deportations. But then they continue...

“Comprehensive immigration reform now!”
“The time is now!”

The prison industry must love these tactics. It is the perfect power play! Not only are these hunger strikers advocating for legislation that the prison system helped create, the prison system can now use the strikers to their advantage, enabling the perfect hostage scenario to play out. As each hostage is released, the nonprofit organizations cheer and declare victory. As they dance around and celebrate, the hostage takers do also. They only have to release a few at a time for this master plan to work. Not only do they get to keep the majority of their prisoners in chains, they get billions of dollars in ransom! And of course, these hostages are hand picked to ensure maximum media coverage in the human rights circle. This ensures the sexiness and allure of the demonstrating nonprofit, so that they can continue to use them to do their dirty work. The private prison industry must be laughing their way to the bank!

Why do they give prisoners up to these hunger strikers?  If a non affiliated group of concerned citizens set up camp and did the same thing minus the CIR promotion, would they let anyone go?  Is it really normal for prisons to free prisoners just because people have demanded it? If this were the case, wouldn’t Leonard Peltier have made it out years ago?

When you pray, is there meaning and purpose behind your prayer? What do you pray for? What do you strike for? What is the goal? Is it to further human rights? Is it a fight against the status quo? Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves those questions when we take it upon ourselves to promote mass actions of resistance against oppression? Shouldn’t we be evaluating the effectiveness of this strategy?

When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the border line in 1848, nobody consulted Tohono O'odham when it effectively cut our land in half and divided us among two nations. Similarly, nobody gave these non profit organizations ownership of indigenous lands. Yet they take it upon themselves to compromise them and subject them to militarization. Nobody gave them the right to  Tohono O’odham, Hia C-ed O'odham, Lipan Apache, or any lands in the area. That also includes Ajo! The border patrol has been harassing, invading, and discriminating against indigenous people for as long as I can remember. The abuses are too many to list.  If they are willing to sell out indigenous lands and support legislation that actually encourages deportations, what human rights do they really advocate for?

When does it stop? When are we really going to fight back?

The prison industrial complex has demonstrated their weakness. They fear what they have effectively prevented: power to the people becoming an effective mantra—a collective mass taking matters back into their own hands. They want to keep us misinformed so that we keep fueling their power play.

For any real, effective movement to really work, people need to actually be informed on what they promote. Knowledge, information, and truth should be prized. In addition, the marginalization of indigenous voices has got to stop. Before any human rights struggle can make any motions to intervene, it must first show respect for indigenous people, the land, and also recognize that borders crossed people and not the other way around.


1 comment:

  1. informed...thousands of bills pass the house floor each season. 1. we should ratify the 1st amendment so minorities like the O'odham could have reps of their own and 2. the onus of informing your constituents of the consequences of proposed legislation and lending ear to the vox populi should fall to the representatives.

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