Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Prison mutiny

Today a coordinated prison mutiny was staged at the Juwaida prison in southern Amman, as well as in Suwaqa (in the south) and Qafqafa (in the north). The incident led to wounding of four security personnel, and the holding of the Juwaida warden and six guards as hostages for most of the day. The crisis ended with the release of the warden and the guards. Naseem has a blow-by-blow account of how the events transpired. According to the AP report,

Authorities refused to release Rishawi (the Iraqi terrorist who failed to blow herself up last November, and who the prisoners wanted released) but promised to address several demands by the prisoners, including to stop arbitrary transfers of inmates and ensure speedy trials of detainees held for months without formal charges.

Last year, top security detainees staged several strikes to protest against poor prison conditions and ill treatment. Jordan denies any systematic violations of prisoners' rights.

I think that it is important to point out that similar situations typically lead to bloodshed. Today a riot in a prison in Afghanistan left six inmates dead. Earlier this month, a riot in a California prison left one inmate dead, and fifty injured. Last year, 22 inmates died in a revolt of Islamist prisoners in the Philippines, and in 2004, 34 prisoners died in a rebellion in Brazil.

So, I would say that it is noteworthy that the prison warden risked his life to deal with the situation first hand, rather than send in the troops in with guns blazing. While guards being taken hostage might be considered lame, I am sure that this would not have happened had these guards chosen to confront the prisoners with their weapons. While I would hope that an inquiry on why this happened is conducted and published, my gut conclusion is that legendary abusive Jordanian police were no where to be found. And if the guards are so abusive, why weren't they harmed by the prisoners? Some of the prisoners clearly have nothing to lose, and are not above violence.

Why is it so difficult for people to give credit where it is due? Just because the government is emphasizing it doesn't mean that it should be ignored.


At 11:08 PM, Blogger Hatem Abunimeh said...

The cult of Bin Ladenism is mutating precipitously.


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