Brendan Lillis dies in Maghaberry prison: Amnesty International

Some months ago, Nadezhda Banchik, member of Amnesty International USA, called for the release of Commander Arbi Zarmaev, a political prisoner who was very sick and was isolated, tortured and treated with neuroleptics in Bruges prison (Belgium).

Can she do the same for Brendan Lillis who is dying in the Maghaberry prison of Northern Ireland ?

Brendan Lillis, a 59 year old former Life-sentence political prisoner from West Belfast, in Ireland, is currently desperately ill in the medical wing of the notorious Maghaberry prison, in County Antrim. He suffers from the intensely painful and progressive disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis which due to other medical complications has left himunable to move from his bed for 14 months and his weight has dropped to a perilous 6 stones (38.1 Kilos !). Due to a series of serious infections and medication which has compromised his immune system, Mr Lillis has been unable to eat, sleep or hold down even liquids for a period close to a month and is constant agony. In short, his health has deteriorated to such an extent that his partner Roisin, who is his only contact with the outside world, fears that he will die in his prison bed! The doctor said her that he will live only 10 days now.

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Arbi Zarmaev: Letter of Mrs Nadezhda Banchik to Minister Stefaan De Clerck

San Jose, April 20, 2011

Being a member of Amnesty International USA, and in addition, being myself an emigrant from the former Soviet Union, I am completely devastated hearing about the plight of Mr. Arbi Zarmaev, a Chechen, an asylum seeker from Chechnya. I was entirely desperate learning that Mr. Zarmaev was arrested in Belgium and subjected to beating and torture via forcible deprivation of food and drinking water, shackling, and sleep deprivation.

Information about torturing of any prisoner in Belgium, the EU member country, renown for its adherence to human rights and law obedience, make me think that our entire world is moving towards a new Holocaust, since the Holocaust was made possible when Western world completely rejected any protection for a human life at all and for a certain ethnic group in particular. That time such a group were Jews. This time, it seems to me, the Chechens are made an ethnic group for trade-off deals with criminal Russian regime.

I am afraid not only for a Chechen young man who is “guilty” only of defending his homeland from marauders, murders and robbers known to the whole world as Russian mafia state. It seems that Belgium authorities secretly decided to make Arbi Zarmaev slowly dying behind grates just for secret deal with Russian criminals! I am also afraid of your country’s reputation as reliable and law-obedient, human-rights protected country belonging to the Western civilization, that just recently was considered moral leader of the whole world. No more humane place in this world? No more Geneva Convention for a tiny group that was unlucky to be designed international scapegoat in the epoch of international “anti-terrorism” war?! But who is a bigger terrorist in this case? A Chechen who was forced to take arms to defend his home or the second army in the world that bombed out his homeland to rubbles?! Do you know that Russia killed more than 250,000 Chechens, including 40,000 children? And how many people did Arbi Zarmaev really killed? Ask him, please.

I urge you Mr. Minister, to do everything you can to stop this embarrassing case for your country. I hope you can urge your subordinates to free Arbi Zarmaev because he is not a criminal. In the worst, he could be considered prisoner of the war. However, in this case he is eligible for Geneva Convention protection. Anyway, he is eligible for Geneva Convention protection as an asylum seeker from the armed conflict zone.

Sincerely and hopeful

Nadezhda Banchik, Amnesty International USA member

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