Prisoners of the State

A political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’. Among the many, here are three:

Antonio Gramsci, a communist Italian writer and political activist, is jailed by the fascist regime and spends 8 years in prison. He is released conditionally due to his health situation and dies shortly after in 1937. He is still one of the most important Marxist thinkers in the 20th century, renowned for his concept of cultural hegemony as a means of maintaining the state in a capitalist society.

Nelson Mandela is arrested for treason in 1956 and acquitted. He leaves South Africa and negotiates for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC, the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe. He returns, only to be rearrested and imprisoned until 1990 for paramilitary offences and political activism.

Bobby Sands is a leader of the 1981 hunger strike in which Irish republican prisoners protest against the removal of Special Category Status. During his strike, he is elected as a member of the United Kingdom Parliament as an Anti H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner candidate.

Release all political prisoners!

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