Rashid Ramda is an Algerian who has been in Belmarsh prison for the last ten years, accused of financing the 1995 Paris Metro bombings which killed 11 people, and fighting extradition to an uncivilised country where confessions are extracted by the use of torture. Judges agreed with him, blocking his extradition to France in 2002.
This site chronicles Mr Ramda’s many fine qualities, the hideous regime under which he is kept, and the ‘Scottish lady Ann’ who has been his only visitor.
You can listen to his “letters filled with poetry, descriptions of the Sahara, and discussions about English literature”, addressed to that same Scottish lady, on Radio Four FM on Thursday.
“Letters from Belmarsh – Thu 28 Jul, 20:00 – 20:30 30 mins
An extraordinary glimpse behind the bars of Belmarsh Prison, through the correspondence between a Scottish grandmother and a Muslim man fighting extradition to France. Rachid Ramda, accused of the Paris Metro bombing, sends letters filled with poetry, descriptions of the Sahara, and discussions about English literature”
UPDATE – the broadcast was pulled at (shortish) notice yesterday, to be replaced by an edition of Crossing Continents. I haven’t found out why. The link above is now defunct (indeed the programme seems to have disappeared ftom the BBC website), but the programme description is here.
Letters From Belmarsh
8.00-8.30pm BBC RADIO 4
Saleya Ahsan presents this programme about a Scottish grandmother, Ann, who, through a chance encounter, started writing to prisoners held under terrorism laws at Belmarsh. In the beginning, she knew nothing about the legislation, or about Muslims.“I’d never met one; there is no Muslim community where I live.” But over the last two years of correspondence, her perceptions, fears and beliefs have been challenged and changed, and this ordinary woman has become a fervent human rights campaigner – although she doesn’t like to be called a campaigner.
The men she writes to include an Algerian accused of having a role in the Nineties Paris Metro bombing, who has been held on remand for nine years without charge. He writes poetry to her. Through him, she learns about another severely depressed Algerian who has no arms and has had periods of solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
Depression is an illness rife amongst the internees. None have seen their families since their detention yet there have been no charges, no trials and no convictions. Ann has become an unlikely expert in internment, the justice system and high-security prisons.
Presenter/Saleya Ahsan, Producer/Lynne Mennie
I have italicised a couple of lines above. What is NOT mentioned is that
a) Mr Ramda has been fighting extradition to France, so far successfully
b) like all Belmarsh detainees, Mr Ramda and his Algerian colleague are free to leave at any time, providing they leave the UK. if they prefer to remain in detention, that is their decision, unless they can find no other country willing to accept them. In which case, it might be asked, should they be free to live in the UK ?
Doubtless these pertinent questions will be answered in the programme itself. Anyone got a transcript ?