Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ilich Ramirez (Carlos) Is Attacked and Injured in French Jail

Interview with Muhammad Abdallah, webmaster of Venezuelan revolutionary’s blog

It has become common practice for the superpowers to apprehend individuals of other nationalities and transfer them to jails thousands of kilometers from their homelands. To give a few examples, the prisoners at Guantanamo Base (taken from the Middle East to Cuba), General Manuel Noriega (from Panama to U.S.A in 1990), FARC leaders Simon Trinidad and Sonia (from Colombia to U.S.A in 2002). Such is the case of a Venezuelan citizen, Ilich Ramirez (a.k.a. Carlos) that was abducted in 1994 from Khartoum, Sudan by agents of the French Secret Service and taken first to La Sante prison near Paris and later to Clairvaux prison in a remote area of northwest France.

A few days before giving this interview, Muhammad Abdallah, webmaster of a blog that demands the liberation of Ilich Ramirez informed me via email that on December 26,2007, Ilich had suffered yet another cowardly aggression at the hands of an inmate called Nabil Soltane, as several prison guards looked on without trying to stop the attacker. Also this inmate was allowed to hit Ilich Ramirez with a sharp edged ring that caused a 15-mm scar and other cuts. Most probably it was a weapon similar to the “Protek Ring”, that according to its makers “reveals a hidden, retractable 1.4 inch stainless steel blade by simply applying pressure to the spring loaded top. This ring gives the wearer a great advantage by having the element of surprise on his or her side”.
Why did the guards at Clairvaux prison allow Soltane to wear such a ring inside a prison, attack Carlos from behind and by some strange coincidence just when the Venezuelan was having a telephone conversation with Isabelle Coutant, his lawyer?.
Until when will this situation continue? Not only has Ilich Ramirez already been sentenced to carry out two terms of life imprisonment but must also suffer daily harassment and physical abuse such as this latest incident. It seems that the French authorities have realized that the abduction, trial and imprisonment of Ilich Ramirez was totally illegal and are now trying to cover up their blunder. Due to this emergency, Vladimir Sanchez, Ilich´s younger brother and also the leader of the “Venezuelan Committee for the Repatriation of Commander Carlos” had to travel to Caracas for a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Relations, Nicolas Maduro, in order to discuss this situation and so was unable to take part in the interview. (It must be noted that in 1999 President Hugo Chavez declared that Ilich Ramirez should return to Venezuela) . Instead thanks to the wonders of communication via internet Muhammad answered the questions on behalf of the Committee in the following interview and explains the current situation of Ilich Ramirez, (something that would have been nearly impossible some years ago):

Question : Muhammad, since when have you been the webmaster of

Muhammad Abdallah : From its beginnings. In fact it may sound pretentious on my behalf, but I consider myself responsible not only for creating the first authentic web page about Ilich, but also for the creation of the current “Committee for the Repatriation of Commander Carlos to Venezuela” (there was a first committee formed in 1991). A couple of years ago there were some sporadic initiatives to remember Ilich´s struggle. There were campaigns by our comrades from the Venezuelan Communist Party, the activity maintained by Ilich´s relatives, the sympathy of some Bolivarian revolutionaries and the gratitude shown by my Palestinian brothers, but I always noticed that they had no contact between each other.
So I spoke with the comrades from the Young Communists, I located Vladimir Ramirez and Ligia Rojas and connected them with M.Gonzalez (and other former comrades of Ilich) and also with childhood friends such as Jeronimo Carreras, J.R Castillo and others. Finally when they realized that they were not alone a decision was taken to create the Committee.

The webpage or blog has only been the presentation in Internet of our attempts to reunite all those people that in one way or another sympathized with Ilich´s struggle and had not met before. Of course, one of the main objectives of the blog is to counteract against the fierce campaign of lies that have been published about Commander Carlos during the past thirty years. Also I try to take Ilich´s message to Palestine, I make copies and translate of videos or programs aired by Al Jazeera, as well as all the articles and books published about Ilich.

Q: Muhammad, have you ever met Ilich in person?

M.A : Unfortunately, due my age, I was unable to meet Ilich, but I have had telephone conversations and received some letters from him. However I hope that when we obtain his repatriation to Venezuela we will meet personally. I do know his work and struggle for Palestine and I try to continue with his example of solidarity and international commitment. Especially now that Palestine is dying as the world watches without doing anything. The webpage is the loudspeaker that conveys his message to Palestine and the whole world.

Q: On December 28,2007,some French citizens that had been arrested and tried in Chad (Africa) were repatriated and allowed to carry out their sentence in France. What is your opinion regarding this situation? Why can’t the same be done in Ilich´s case?

M.A: You said it, brother. The law should be applied in equal terms to all. But this is not the case with Ilich. Ilich, like Che Guevara, Al Khattab or Tanja Nijmeijer, is more than just a guerrilla fighter that went to a country different than his to fight for the freedom of those people, that were also not his own. Ilich is a myth and also knows all the secrets of international politics throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and this is why, in a transgression of all laws he has been in solitary confinement for more than 13 years. In fact this last aggression he suffered a few days ago, is a just a trap to force him to fight back, be punished and sent back to solitary confinement so that he won’t be able to speak. Obviously a figure such as Ilich Ramirez cannot be compared to an NGO like the Ark of Zoe that poses no threat to any imperialist power. Also, don’t forget that the French Secret Service abducted Ilich from Sudan in an illegal operation. Ilich was never arrested legally, not to mention the sham trial where he ended up being convicted without any proof of being involved in the “crimes” he was accused of.

Q: Exactly what is Ilich´s prison status in France? Is he considered a war prisoner, political prisoner or what?

M.A: Of course Ilich is a political prisoner despite being abducted and being for so many years in isolation, without even being able to meet with his lawyers. Ilich has been jailed next to common criminals, drug traffickers, rapists and psychopaths maybe in an attempt that, like a few days ago, someone will murder him at the jail before being repatriated to Venezuela. This is why it is so important to inform President Hugo Chavez so that the Bolivarian government can take urgent action.

Q: What is Ilich´s routine at Clairvaux prison? How many hours a day is he locked up?

M..A: His routine at the jail is the same as the other high security prisoners. Worst of all is what happens when he has to be transferred to Paris during trials. Ilich must make the 300-kilometer trip inside a metal cage, with chains in his hands and feet, just like an animal.
At 58 years of age and with his physical corpulence, Ilich must remain inside this metal cage that is quite small for seven to eight hours without drinking water or going to the toilet. However these transfers are not happening at present and so his lawyers cannot defend him.

Q: Does Ilich have regular access to press, radio, television or internet?

M.A : We send him our statements and he receives some newspapers and books, that are all previously censored by the prison guards, but he has no access to internet. It is his wife and lawyer Isabelle Coutant that sends me Ilich´s statements and suggestions via email that I later upload to the blog. Until recently he could make phone calls once a week, but not to whomever he wanted. Ilich can only phone those numbers authorized by the Prison warden, such as that of his brother Vladimir. Even so Ilich has had problems lately since his telephone conversations are recorded and on many occasions we have heard sound interference or interruptions during the calls. We believe that the French Secret Service have caused this interference and have made our communication totally impossible.

Q: How often can he have contact with his relatives and friends?

M.A : That is another good question. For more than 13 years Ilich has not been allowed visits or contact with anyone. It is illegal, immoral and inhuman to keep a person isolated for such a long time. There are also other problems since his brothers and mother are unable to visit Ilich since they have been threatened in Europe and will be in serious danger in case they dare to enter France. In fact no one can visit him, his only contact with his family is via telephone. There is another worry, since despite all the lies that are published Ilich has never received any legal and financial assistance from the Venezuelan government. We work in the Committee voluntarily and all the legal costs have been met by his family and through donations by his friends. In order to call his relatives by phone he must use very expensive call cards so I have insisted with the Committee that a bank account be opened to receive donations in order to pay for his legal fees and also to buy his medicine. Ilich is now a stress diabetic and the hardships of life at Clairvaux Prison only worsen his condition and so the special medicines he needs imply an additional cost.

Q: What has been the Venezuelan government’s attitude towards Ilich´s case?
M.A: Recently I uploaded at the blog an audio recording of the “Alo Presidente” radio program where President Hugo Chavez once more speaks with sympathy and affection of Ilich Ramirez. However he is the only member of the government that has the courage to do so. We (the committee) have spoken on many occasions with Venezuelan ambassadors and consuls from different countries, for example the one in Spain, but they all see Ilich´s case as uncomfortable and dangerous. Very recently I also published in the blog a statement by Ilich´s wife and lawyer, Isabelle Coutant, where she describes the shameful behavior by Arnaldo Perez , the Venezuelan Ambassador in Paris.

Q: Which Palestinian organization does Ilich support at present?
M.A : Ilich arrived in Palestine in the early 1970s thanks to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), founded by Dr. George Habash, that is still active, but in a different way. This organization has changed much through the years, but where other famous fighters such as Layla Khaleb took part. Layla continues to struggle for Palestine and I hope to convince her to write an article for my blog very soon. Now many young Palestinians have continued with this 60 year struggle against Israeli occupation, but unfortunately when I speak about Ilich in Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus or even the Gaza Strip, most of the resistance fighters are too young to know the story of Commander Carlos and the comrades in arms of Ilich at the PFLP have been killed by the Israeli occupation army.
You can’t imagine how much we need someone like Ilich Ramirez in the Gaza Strip at present.

What would be Ilich´s opinion about the recent conferences between Mahmoud Abas, President George Bush and Israel?

“Absolute nonsense. These are excuses so that the politicians, analysts and advisers continue to get rich and receive media exposure while we continue in agony. They have been meeting for 60 years and can continue to meet for another 60 years.
Nothing will change, Palestine will only be in peace when the Israeli occupation army stops arresting and torturing all children over 15, when they stop occupying Palestinian homes and property and giving it to Jewish colonizers. Also when they eliminate the checkpoints and restrictions to water and electricity, when they bring down the wall of shame that divides entire families and the attacks and bombings of civilian population cease.
Surely only those of us that have lost relatives, (unarmed women and children), during Israeli bombings can understand the magnificence and generosity of a Venezuelan, that like President Hugo Chavez denounced the 2006 invasion and bombing of Lebanon by Israel by saying “Enough is Enough!”

Q: Did Ilich ever meet Che Guevara?
M.A : No, because when Che Guevara was murdered Ilich had not even began studying at Patrice Lumumba University. However, if today Che Guevara could see his reflection in mirror, he would see Ilich and viceversa.

Interview carried out via email between Venezuela and Chile from Jan 8 to Jan 10 ,2008.

Brief glossary of names and places: During his 40 year struggle Ilich Ramirez has obviously met many people and been to many places, here are some mentioned in this interview :

Clairvaux Prison: Originally an abbey built in 1115 by a religious order in a mountainous area of Northeast France. Today it is the country’s main maximum-security prison. On January 16, 2006, several inmates imprisoned with life sentences published a statement that described life at the prison as “a place where the death sentence has been replaced by a regime of slow and continuous punishment, every activity at the prison is planned to constantly mistreat prisoners.”

Patrice Lumumba University : Located in Moscow, during the Soviet era became a center for the formation of Communist Party militants from all over the world.

L'Arche de Zoé: French NGO dedicated to humanitarian aid.

Layla Khaleb : Female Palestinian resistance fighter that took part in spectacular actions such as the 1968 hijacking of an El Al passenger aircraft that was en route from Rome to Tel Aviv. In 1969 she also successfully hijacked a TWA plane from Europe to Damascus, Syria.

Tanja Nijmeier : A Netherlands volunteer currently with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), an organization that has been at war with the government army for more than forty years.

Al Khatabb : Saudi Arabian fighter, took part in several wars as part of the First International Islamic battalion. Killed in Chechnya in 2002 when the Russian secret service delivered him a poisoned letter..

Alo Presidente ! : A weekly live radio broadcast where common citizens can phone and talk to President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Ligia.Rojas : Ilich´s first schoolteacher.

Jeronimo Carreras : Founder of the Venezuelan Communist party

M.Gonzalez, J.R Castillo : Venezuelan friends and comrades of Ilich Ramirez.

Mahmoud Abas : Current president of the Palestinian National Authority


Jay Jerkinz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay Jerkinz said...

Could you please share the address and inmate number of Illich Ramirez Sanchez? I have a close friend who has been inspired by his passion and wishes to write to him and I have been unable to locate a mailing address on the internet.


Adresse postale:

M. Ilich Ramírez Sánchez
Maison centrale de Clairvaux
Ville sous la Ferté
10310 Bayel

Téléphone: (maybe they will confirm the inmate number for letters?)