- Political prisoner
A political prisoner is someone held in
prisonor otherwise detained, perhaps under house arrest, for his or her involvement in political activity.
Some understand the term "political prisoner" narrowly, equating it with the term
Prisoner of conscience. Amnesty Internationalcampaigns for the release of prisoners of conscience or POCs, which include both political prisoners as well as those imprisoned for their religious or philosophical beliefs. To reduce controversy and as a matter of principle, the organization's policy is to work only for prisoners who have not committed or advocated violence. Thus there are political prisoners who do not fit the narrower criteria for POCs.
In the parlance of many violent groups and their sympathizers, "political prisoner" includes persons imprisoned because they await trial for, or have been convicted of, actions usually qualified as
terrorism. The assumption is that these actions were morally justified by a legitimate fight against the government that imprisons the said persons, including in some cases democratic governments. For instance, French anarchist groups typically call the former members of "Action Directe" held in Francefor murder"political prisoners".
Some also include all convicted for
treasonand espionagein the category of "political prisoners"
In many cases, political prisoners are imprisoned with no legal veneer directly through
However, it also happens that political prisoners are arrested and tried with a veneer of legality, where false criminal charges, manufactured evidence, and unfair trials are used to disguise the fact that an individual is a political prisoner. This is common in situations which may otherwise be decried nationally and internationally as a
human rightsviolation and suppression of a political dissident. A political prisoner can also be someone that has been denied bailunfairly, denied parolewhen it would reasonably have been given to a prisoner charged with a comparable crime, or special powers may be invoked by the judiciary. Particularly in this latter situation, whether an individual is regarded as a political prisoner may depend upon subjective political perspective or interpretation of the evidence.
Governments typically reject assertions that they hold political prisoners. For example, during the
Vietnam War, the government of South Vietnamdenied that it held any political prisoners, despite the fact that approximately 100,000 civilians were imprisoned as inmates in 41 detention facilities. Fact|date=February 2007 These included non-combatant members of the National Liberation Frontor NLF, including village chiefs, schoolteachers, tax collectors, postmen, medical personnel, as well as many peasants whose relatives were members of the NLF.
Soviet Union, dubious psychiatric diagnoses were sometimes used to confine political prisoners.
Nazi Germany, "Night and Fog" prisoners were among the first victims of fascist repression.
North Korea, entire families are jailed if one family member is suspected of anti-government sentiments [http://hrw.org/englishwr2k7/docs/2007/01/11/nkorea14755.htm] [http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/07/08/nkorea9040.htm] .
Political prisoners sometimes write memoirs of their experiences and resulting insights. See
list of memoirs of political prisoners. Some of these memoirs have become important political texts.§
Examples of individuals believed (or claiming) to be political prisoners
Leonard Peltier- United States. Leonard Peltier (born September 12, 1944) is a Native American activist and member of the American Indian Movement. In 1977 he was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the murder of two FBIAgents who died during a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There has been considerable debate over Peltier’s guilt and the fairness of his trial. Some supporters and organizations, including Amnesty International, consider him to be a political prisoner.
Sanjar Umarov- Uzbekistan. Sanjar Guiess Umarov (born April 7, 1956) is a prominent Uzbek politician and businessman. He is the chairman of Sunshine Uzbekistan, the main party in opposition to president Islom Karimov's authoritarian rule. He was arrested in October 2005 for embezzlement — charges his supporters say were politically motivated — and went on trial in January 2006. He was sentenced to 14 years (later reduced to 10 years) in prison and fined $8 million. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4778526.stm BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Uzbekistan jails opposition chief ] ]
Chia Thye Poh- Singapore. He was arrested in 1966 and imprisoned without charge or trial until 1989 upon suspicion that he was a member of the Communist Party of Malaysia and therefore a threat to the security of Singapore. He spent another 3 1/2 years confined on the island of Sentosa, for which he was charged rent and required to procure his own food. The last of the restrictions limiting his civil and political rights were lifted in 1998.
Oscar Elías Biscet- Cuba: A Human rights activist sentenced to 25 years imprisonment [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2004/34570.htm] .
Gerard Jean-Juste- Haiti: Liberation theologian and prominent member of the Fanmi Lavalasparty. Has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International[http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR360082005?open&of=ENG-HTI] [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/07/28/149242] .
Aung San Suu Kyi- Myanmar: Leader of political party victorious in last Burmese elections, the results of which were ignored by the military government. Ordered under house arrest by Burmese military tribunal.
Pasteur Bizimungu- Rwanda
Matt Pearce- Hong Kong
Phuntsok Nyidron- Tibet
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima- Tibet
Andrei Ivanţoc- Transnistria: One of four leaders of the pro-Romanian Christian-Democratic People's Party of Moldova who were accused of terrorism
Mikhail Trepashkin- Russia: Convicted for "revealing state secrets". Many believe that this may have been related to his investigation of the involvement of the FSB in Russian apartment bombings.
Cho Sung-hye- North Korea: Returned to North Korea against her will by China.
Akbar Ganji- Iran: Former Revolutionary Guard and journalist imprisoned in Evin Prison since April 22, 2000. He was imprisoned for his participation in the Berlinconference "Iran after the elections" after the Iranian Majlis election in 2000.
Adolfo Fernandez Sainz- Cuba: Journalist for the Moscow-based news agency PRIMA. He was arrested on March 20, 2005as a result of the government’s crackdown on independent journalists. He was accused of giving interviews to foreign radio stations and posting “subversive” articles on the Internet, and sentenced to 15 years in prison under infamous Law 88, better known as the “gag law”.
Jennifer Latheef- Maldives: Opposition political activist Jennifer Latheef was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on October 18, 2003, convicted of "terrorism" for joining a protest in September 2003 against deaths in prison and political repression.
Mikhail Marynich- Belarus: On December 30, 2005, the Minskdistrict court found the former Minister of Foreign Economic Relations and Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Belarus, Mikhail Marynich, guilty of the misappropriation of office equipment, which the United States Embassy had given to the Belarusian public association “Business Initiative”. He was sentenced to five years detention in a medium-security colony and his property confiscated. His arrest was clearly politically motivated.
Soebandrio- Indonesia: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia under Sukarno. He was detained by Suhartoin 1966 after the alleged "communist" coup d'état in 1965 (see 30 September Movementand Transition to the New Order) and sentenced to death by a military tribunal. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, but he was released in 1995.
Pramoedya Ananta Toer- Indonesia: Prominent leftist writer, detained by Suhartoand never brought to trial. Instead he was sent to Buruand released in 1979 but remained under house arrest until 1992.
Loncos Pascual Pichún Paillalaoand Aniceto Norín Catriman- Chile: Leaders of the Mapuche people
Crispin Beltran: Labour organizer and Congressman of the Philippinesdetained on charges of rebellion.
Famous historic political prisoners
Fidel Castroserved approximately two years (1953-1955) for his participation in the Attack on Moncada Barracksbefore launching a successful rebellion in Cubato become President.
Mahatma Gandhiwas imprisoned numerous times, in both South Africa and India, for his non-violent political activities.
Adolf Hitlerserved a short term (1924) for leading the Beer Hall Putschto overthrow the government in Munich, wrote " Mein Kampf" while in prison, and went on to become Chancellor and Führer of Germany.
Kim Dae Jungserved one term (1976-1979) and in 1980 was exiled to the United States, but returned in 1985 and became President of South Koreain 1998.
Nelson Mandelawas arrested in 1956 and acquitted. He left the country and returned, only to be rearrested and imprisoned for a long term (1962-1990), after which he negotiated the end of Apartheid and went on to become President of South Africa.
Thomas Mapfumowas imprisoned without charges in 1979 by the Rhodesian government for his Shona-language music calling for revolution.
Zhang Xueliangserved a lengthy sentence (1936-1990) for leading the Xi'an Incidentin Chinain which he temporarily imprisoned Chiang Kai-shek, who, when later released, promptly arrested Zhang and brought him to Taiwanafter the fall of the Nationalist government to continue his sentence.
Zulfikar Ali Bhuttoand his daughter Benazir Bhuttoserved prison sentences of two and five years respectively under General Zia ul Haq, Mr. Bhutto was later executed.
Bobby Sandswas a Provisional IRAguerrilla imprisoned in 1977 after a shoot-out with British troops. While in prison he was elected to the British Parliament. He died in 1981 after taking part in a hunger strike for political status. 9 more men died on hungerstrike before political status was reinstated.
List of Tibetan political prisoners
Below are some names of political prisoners among the most well known in
Tibet. Some of them died while in prison, or have been released:
* Former political prisoners:
Lhalu Tsewang Dorje
Ani Pachen(21 years in jail, released)
Palden Gyatso(33 years in jail, released)
Ngawang Sangdrol(11 years in jail, released)
Phuntsog Nyidron(15 years in jail, released)
Tenzin Choedrak(17 years in jail, released)
Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok(died while in jail)
** 10th Panchen Lama (13 years in jail, released)
Phuntsok Wangyal(18 years in jail, released)
Takna Jigme Zangpo(Longest-serving political prisoner in the world, 37 years in jail, released)
Ngawang Chophel(sentenced to 18 years, 6 years in jail, released for health reason)
* Political prisoners currently in jail:
Dolma Kyab( Chushurprison (Chinese: Qushui), 10 years sentence)
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche(prison N° 3 of Chuandong, life imprisonment)
** 11th Panchen Lama (in house arrest since 1995)
Runggye Adak(8 years sentence)
Chadrel Rinpoche(7 years sentence, in house arrest since 2002)
Prisoner of conscience
* ^Whitehorn, Laura. (2003). "Fighting to Get Them Out". Social Justice, San Francisco; 2003. Vol. 30, Iss. 2; pg. 51.
* n.a. 1973. "Political Prisoners in South Vietnam". London: Amnesty International Publications.
Luz Arce. 2003. "The Inferno: A Story of Terror and Survival in Chile". Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-19554-6
Stuart Christie. 2004. "Granny Made Me An Anarchist: General Franco, The Angry Brigade and Me". London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-5918-1
Christina Fink. 2001. "Living Silence: Burma Under Military Rule". Bangkok: White Lotus Pressand London: Zed Press. (See in particular Chapter 8: "Prison: 'Life University' "). In Thailand ISBN 974-7534-68-1, elsewhere ISBN 1-85649-925-1 and ISBN 1-85649-926-X
Marek M. Kaminski. 2004. "Games Prisoners Play". Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11721-7 http://webfiles.uci.edu/mkaminsk/www/book.html
* Ben Kiernan. 2002. "The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1975". Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09649-6
* Stephen M. Kohn. 1994. "American Political Prisoners". Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-94415-8
* Barbara Olshansky. 2002. "Secret Trials and Executions: Military Tribunals and the Threat to Democracy". New York: Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1-58322-537-4
Additional illustrations are available at the Russian version http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Политический_заключённый
* [http://www.amnesty.org Amnesty International]
* [http://www.thejerichomovement.com/prisoners.html Political Prisoners in the United States] - The Jericho Movement
* [http://www.prisonactivist.org/pps%2Bpows/pplist-alpha.shtml Political Prisoners in the United States address list] from the Prison Activist Resource Center
* [http://resist.ca/~kirstena/pageprisonersupportsexism.html The Underbelly of SEXISM in Political Prisoner Support]
* [http://www.ecoprisoners.org/ The North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network]
* [http://www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk/ Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network]
* [http://www.freefreenow.org Free Jeff Luers] - Support site for Jeff 'Free' Luers
* [http://www.supportdaniel.org/ Support Daniel McGowan]
* [http://www.politzeki.ru Politzeki.ru] - political prisoners of the modern Russia
* [http://www.prolibertadweb.com Prolibertad] Support for Puerto Rican political prisoners
* [http://www.breakthechains.info Break the Chains] Political Prisoner News
* [http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/cRosett/?id=110002281 Where Is Ms. Cho?] - opinion piece about Cho Sung-hye and other North Koreans who attempt to leave North Korea.
* [http://www.prisonersoverseas.com Prisoners Overseas] Campaigning for political prisoners
* [http://www.veronza.org Veronza Bowers Jr.] Support site for Veronza Bowers Jr.
* [http://www.eng.trepashkin.ru Trepashkin.Ru] Support site for Mikhail Trepashkin.
* [http://www.ijdh.org/ The Institute of Justice & Democracy in Haiti] Support for Haitian political prisoners
* [http://www.mapuche-nation.org/english/main/freedom/freedom.htm Mapuche Nation] Campaign for the Liberation of Mapuche Political Prisoners
* [http://www.guchusum.org GuChuSum - Political Prisoners of Tibet] support for current and former prisoners of Chinese Prisons in Tibet
* [http://www.alexey-pichugin.com Alexey Pichugin Case] support site for Russian political prisoner Alexey Pichugin, the former head of the YuKOS's Economical Security Department
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
political prisoner — political prisoners N COUNT A political prisoner is someone who has been imprisoned for criticizing or disagreeing with their own government … English dictionary
political prisoner — ► NOUN ▪ a person imprisoned for their political beliefs or actions … English terms dictionary
political prisoner — index hostage Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 … Law dictionary
political prisoner — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms political prisoner : singular political prisoner plural political prisoners someone who is sent to prison by their own government because it does not approve of their beliefs or actions … English dictionary
political prisoner — noun A person imprisoned for no other reason than his political views or political activism See Also: prisoner of conscience … Wiktionary
political prisoner — noun someone who is imprisoned because of their political views • Hypernyms: ↑prisoner, ↑captive … Useful english dictionary
political prisoner — /pəˈlɪtɪkəl prɪzənə/ (say puh litikuhl prizuhnuh) noun a person imprisoned for political acts or for his or her expression of political opposition to the government … Australian English dictionary
political prisoner — po.lit.ical prisoner n someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country … Dictionary of contemporary English
political prisoner — po,litical prisoner noun count someone who is sent to prison by their own government because it does not approve of their beliefs or actions … Usage of the words and phrases in modern English
political prisoner — noun a person imprisoned for their political beliefs or actions … English new terms dictionary