Harsh US jail conditions for peace activists

Harsh US jail conditions for peace activists

By Bill Mason

BRISBANE — Australian peace activists Ciaron O'Reilly and Moana Cole are facing harsh prison conditions in the US, after their conviction for damaging a B-52 bomber and a US Air Force runway last New Year's Day, in a protest at the build-up to the Gulf War.

In August, O'Reilly and Cole were sentenced with two US Catholic Workers Group peace activists to a year's jail for their raid on a New York military base.

O'Reilly has been stripped of his shoes and sent off shackled to work on a Texas chain gang, after being forced to buy clothes at a privately owned county prison. Cole was being held in a tiny cell, with three other women, in poor conditions and with only two hours' recreation time outside the cell each day.

Her mother, Pearl Cavander-Cole, told the Brisbane Courier-Mail that the Australian Foreign Affairs Department had been asked to investigate because the pair were being held in high-security institutions under harsh conditions when they were classified as low-security prisoners.

"We are very concerned about Moana's health", she said. "We know she has a sentence to serve but we can't believe under such inhumane conditions. We are quite prepared for them to serve a sentence for their actions under the law of the land, but not in this way."