Prison Protests: International Committee of the Red Cross

Follow the Paper Trail: Prison Protests - the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Paper Trail has just uploaded another important file to the Prison Protest bundle which is a great (and FREE) resource for families and researchers. This 1978 file regards the International Committee of the Red Cross's (ICRC) Interest in Protest in Maze Prison - or lack of!
It includes an informal (and private) meeting in London in late 1978 with a senior officials of ICRC, Northern Ireland Office (NIO), and others:
“Ministers agreed with our recommendation that there was no role for the International Red Cross in the Maze protest. This view was passed to the Red Cross by our Mission in Geneva and readily acknowledged.”
The file records the missives sent to ICRC requesting that they investigate the conditions in the Maze, and the following discussions by the British authorities.
Also included is a record of a telephone call in July 1978 which initiated the opportunity of the informal and secret meeting reported above between senior officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross and NIO. This records:
“He spoke with circumspection throughout and said that he wondered how we would react if he and M. Borsinger came to see us to seek advice about how they should deal with certain letters they had been receiving, both in London and Geneva… Mr Hodgson emphasised that he was well aware of our problems in Northern Ireland and that the British Red Cross had no desire to become involved.”
It also pointedly recorded that:
“Ministers agree the International Red Cross should be kept “at bay”" [their quote]
From the foregoing, it seemed that there was no real effort to examine critically and independently the accusations detailed in the letters to Geneva.
The draft letter which records the authorities’ more formal reasons why the ICRC should have no role in the Maze is recorded here too.
Further documents relate contact with Amnesty International and a June 1978 missive from the NIO that states:
“We have deliberately left out any reference to the current cleaning operations in H3 and H5 blocks...”
This is a direct response to the Amnesty letter which records allegations that:
“...all prisoners in Blocks H3 and H5 have been detained for a prolonged period in cellular confinement for 24 hours a day with no exercise, apart from time allowed daily for slopping out.”
A record on 19th January 1978 is entitled “Republican Prisoners and Prisoner of War Status” which asks:
“What is known about the Central Relatives Action Committee? Who is running it, have they any criminal records?”
The Central Relatives Action Committee had raised concerns with the ICRC.
Victims and survivors can have free access to thousands of similar files - including newspapers relating to Prison Protests.

The first tranche includes hundreds of Open Source and Newspaper files (1970 - 1972) as well as a large file relating to Special Category Prisoners from April to December 1975 which heralded the end of the Internment period and the beginning of the next phase of Prison Protests.

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