The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Off With Their Beards

In the phraseology of politics, a party too indifferent to the sorrow and sufferings of humanity to raise its voice in protest, is a moderate, practical party; whilst a party totally indifferent to the personality of leaders, or questions of leadership, but not to enthusiasm on every question affecting the well-being of the toiling masses, is an extreme, a dangerous party.
- James Connolly

Brendan Hughes • 17 January 2002

We learned this week that the Yanks had shaved off the beards of their Taliban prisoners. Not a new tactic. The Brits did it with us in the H-Blocks in 1978. Why? The blanket protest, no-wash, no shaving was a way in which we could highlight our case to the wider world that we were not criminals. We lay unwashed, we grew long beards, we put our own shit on the walls of the cells. These extraordinary lengths we went to in order to make ourselves heard over and above the British imposed silence - we were not criminals. When that was not enough we went further and ten men died, bringing the attention of the world to Ireland and shattering the British myth.

Getting rid of our beards had proved useless. As against the Taliban in Guantanamo Bay today it was an exercise in power. It was merely to degrade and let us know they were the boss and could do as they wanted with us - no one could stop them. But they failed. They were only the boss of the jail - never our minds. They could not persuade us to think that we were criminal and we persuaded the world that we were not.

Elsewhere in the world today prisoners still fight against oppressive regimes. At the time of writing 82 men and women have died as a result of hunger strike activity in Turkey. The white Anglo-Saxons of the so-called civilised world in its smugness ignores them or worse, supports the regime that kills them. As each death is announced we hear silence from our own political establishment. They can make plenty of noise and be heard when they are demanding pay rises for themselves. Justice for Turkish prisoners - well that is another thing. Why make noise about them? It is easier to dismiss them as fanatical or fundamentalist - anything but come out on their behalf. Yet these people are not fascist or dictatorial. Whatever we think of their methods they are socialists fighting for the rights of man - for human freedom.

I would remind our political establishment or at least those who term themselves radical within it that it is the ordinary people of Palestine and Turkey who are suffering. Do not forget the poor of either country. Do not fool yourselves into thinking that because you have a foot in the door of Stormont that you have a foothold on power and that it is better to stay silent when justice demands otherwise rather than lose that power. In this world real power lies with the men with no beards - for us that means those at No 10 in London.









































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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles


17 February 2007

Brendan Hughes
Archive Material

6 February 2008

Other Articles From This Issue:

Was it a War?
Michael Gillespie

Impossible Task for Truth Body
David Adams

Pandora's Box
John Kennedy

Villians of the Peace
Mick Hall

India's Undeclared War
Cedric Gouverneur

Borders Exist to be Crossed: Maryam Namazie
Anthony McIntyre

That This House Believes That Irish Republicanism Has No Future: Opposed
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

Dismantling Partition
32 County Sovereignty Movement

We Shall Not Be Deterred
Brian Mór

Martin Meehan
Anthony McIntyre

Washington Pressure on Dodds
Fr Sean Mc Manus

No Pope Here
Brian Mór

Fundamental Primer
Dr John Coulter

Internal Exiles
Seaghán Ó Murchú

14 January 2008

Republicanism...Alive or Dying?
Anthony McIntyre

Pillocks of the Community
John Kennedy

Irish Unity Cannot Be Ruled Out
David Adams

A Great Republican and a Great Man
Aine Doherty

John Kelly
Anthony McIntyre

How Urgent the Need?
John Kelly, from an interview with Liam Clarke

My Grandfather's Insurgency
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

Kitsonian Success With the Provos...?
Liam O Comain

McGuinness Takes the Finland!
John Kennedy

Provisional Sinn Fein - Don't Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater
Jerry Pepin

John Kennedy

Operation Helvetic: To Be Expected
Michael Gillespie

Hung Out to Dry
John Kennedy

Re-Imagining Ireland
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission
Mick Hall

One Armed Bandit
John Kennedy

Terrorism and Leftism
Paddy Hackett

Power to the People
John Kennedy



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