Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Apathy

A typical example of the apathy that exists in here has just occured to me.

Each morning I sit with a very intelligent inmate from Malaysia, George (63yrs old, Death Row) whose been here for 2 years now on a murder charge. The time I spend with George is very beneficial for me as he speaks college level English, and Ive found that prattling away in "pidgin" to others really does my brain in eventually. Besides all that, he is an ex-pat of long standing in Bangkok and he and I have several notable personalities of the local bar scene in common.

However, I have just had to cut short a session with him as I was on the verge of exploding in rage. He and I were discussing and critiscising the Human Rights agencies for thier seeming lack of interetsin in Thai prison conditions. My contention is that far too many prisoners are not bothering to write to friends, family and supporters illustrating the abuses. In turn those few on the outside who are willing to campaign on our behalfs have little of detail to work with.

I concluded my arguement with
"So George, just whom are you encouraging Audrey (his daughter) to lobby? Human Rights Watch? Freedom House?"
He smugly replied
"Oh, no one, I leave that sort of thing to you"

George unfortunatly is typical of 99.99% of the inmates here in the Hilton. Of the 4000+ inmates here I can only name 6 of us who are trying to raise awareness of whats going on in here.

They will all benefit from our work, which is no bad thing, but if they helped we would get it done much quicker.

Ah well, be safe out there

Gary Graeme Jones
D2 Bang Kwang

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Prisoners Abroad and Her Majesty's Government

Usually I can constrain my anger over most situations but what has pushed the “Big Red Button” in this instance is an utterly puerile letter I received from the UK charity Prisoners Abroad (P.A.). In missionary terms, my cup of bile runneth over.

Ostensibly P.A’s role is to provide much needed services for Britons in foreign gaols. In reality things are much more devious.

Upon very careful consideration, and supported by letters from a long term inmate (now ex-inmate after 17 years) to me, it becomes fairly easy to see that P.A’s function is not to support Britons in overseas jails, but rather to shield the various Embassies and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in countries where Britons are incarcerated, from having to address any of the valid issues that those Britons raise.

I’ll go further. Even the much vaunted £30 per calendar month support grant paid by P.A to inmates in Thai jails does us more harm than good! Because of this grant, which is incidentally controlled by the British Embassy, the Embassy themselves argue that they are not under any obligation to “advance” us funds in order to buy food, pay bribes, pay services, buy medicine etc in order to survive.

The screws know we receive these funds and they demand, on threat of punishment beatings or torture, their share. This “share” amounts to 1,500 Baht per month and at an exchange rate of £1 = 52Baht (set by the prison), I’m left with the princely sum of 60Baht to survive on a month.

Other embassies allow their nationals up to 3,000 – 4,000 baht per month which is much more realistic although admittedly the money they pay their nationals is in the form of a loan. Granted our 1500Baht is free, but seldom goes further than to pay off the bribes to the guards. As I have told P.A. they can stuff it, Ill starve to death.

It doesn’t end there though. The £30 is means tested and the Embassy decides who is to receive it. If we receive regular funding of any amount from family and friends through the Embassy, or the Embassy learn we are receiving money in another way (we have informers in D2 who delight in dropping others in it), then the Embassy instructs P.A. to stop funding us. The Embassy full well realise that the only means of controlling us inmates is to threaten us with withdrawal of these funds, a tactic that Kate Dufall of the F.C.O regularly employs.

I am sorry if this destroys anyone’s faith in the P.A. but they really are a bunch of shysters and little more than a front for the F.C.O, posturing that they have the welfare of British Prisoners in overseas jails at heart. In truth however they receive a large percentage of their funding from Her Majesty’s Government (the Home Office and the F.C.O.), which in turn means that P.A. will not publicly stand up against the very organisations that terrorise us. Hell, they don’t even protest our indignities privately!


Gary
D2 Bang Kwang Prison
Thailand

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Bloody Missionaries

I am an atheist and as such I don’t take too kindly to being hassled by folks whose sole aim is to – at best- feed upon my misfortune to attempt a conversion. At worst, and there are numerous instances of this, they line their own pockets by soliciting funds from real Christians by lying to them that these funds will support prisoners welfare.

My first really bad experience of these evil people was back in ’73 when I was fighting bankruptcy. I was targeted by Jehovah‘s Witnesses and instead of warding off my bankruptcy I was warding of offensive and incessant attempts to convert me.

Since being in here, as with all other inmates, I’ve been the target of innumerable missionaries. Only four Christians have I had any time for; Vernon de Florey-Morris, Reul and Phoebe Lumilang and Sister Christine. Sadly, both Vernon and Christine have passed away and Reul and Phoebe have been moved to another part of Thailand by their church. The others, without fail, have all proved to be concerned with their own agendas which do not match mine.

About a year ago I received what I considered an offensive and insensitive letter from a missionary based in Brisbane Australia. The missionary, Tracey Laing, had sourced my details from a website, Foreign Prisoner Support Service (FPSS), run by another Aussie, Kay Danes. Tracey (male or female, I haven’t a clue), using some incorrect details posted on the FPSS, proceeded to preach at me, in writing, that I should be grateful that I was feeling remorseful for the crime I had committed, as I was now ready to receive Jesus as my saviour. I went ballistic; even if I weren’t innocent, he/she did not consider that they should do more research on my case, Thai Police methods, the Thai Judicial system and Thai Prison conditions before writing to me. Equally I consider that these missionaries would do well to apply some objective research to that book they preach from.

In the way that researching a topic is important, before offering a conclusive opinion upon it is critical, this next point is relevant to this blog (well I think so anyway).

A letter arrived from one of my regular correspondents asking if it was important that people thought me innocent. I took the question within the context that I seemed annoyed that people were assuming my guilt rather than my innocence. My “Anger” with those who say I’m guilty the loudest is because they refuse to bother with examining any of the evidence I try to present in my defence.

For those who have actually bothered - and this is important to me – to both have examined my evidence and then passed it on to others so that they too can examine it, but then still believe in my guilt, I have a deep respect for. I don’t expect others to slavishly accept my innocence or guilt. Everyone must be free to arrive at their own conclusions.

Enough for now. Onwards and upwards

Gary
D2 Bang Kwang Prison
Thailand