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!
D2 Bang Kwang Prison