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Day 56 – Of Deaths of Detainees and WAPs and New Surveillance


As often in Mauritius, what happens in the prisons reflects what is happening in the rest of society. Over a 5-week period, three young men have been found dead in prison cells. Prison Commissioner Appadoo is known for his archaic, punitive approach, as well as his reliance on an Israeli company to supposedly check prison “surveillance”. He was an ex-drugs cop in charge of ADSU and had no experience in running a prison. He typifies the MSM’s basic philosophy that repression is the only answer to any social problem.

LALIT formally re-iterates our call for his dismissal from service. These three deaths are his responsibility as Prisons Commissioner, and he must go. On 16 February 2019 LALIT in Le Mauricien and in our Revi LALIT, called for his dismissal when he first introduced his repressive prison regime. We also now call for a full enquiry into the way he has run the prison service.

The situation for prisoners has been increasingly untenable, as family members have witnessed, especially since the 19 March mutiny on the eve of confinement, when prisoners feared the epidemic would strike in their over-crowded conditions. The dead men are Michael Louise (41 years old) found dead 20 March the day after the mutiny, Alain Auguste (30 years old) found dead on 29 April and Cael Permes (29 years old) found dead on 5 May. The National Human Rights Commission claims only to have been given access finally to visit the prisons today, acting as it does, like a servant to the Prison Commissioner. The NHRC has been useless on violence against detainees since barrister Hervé Lasemillante was kicked out of the institution by the Jugnauth government.

Five Prison Guards have been arrested in connection with the death of Cael Permes. A fellow prisoner, witness Shibchurn, has given evidence of hearing a beating going on. Two other prisoners heard cries of pain. It is to the credit of his barrister and former Justice Minister Rama Valayden that the investigation has gone ahead. He has called for the closure of the La Bastille prison where his client was found dead with visible injuries. 

At the same time as the increasing repression of the regime on remaining prisoners, 400 having been released due to the epidemic and thus proving they could have been freed before, the regime for the rest of us outdoors is also increasingly repressive. The Covid-19 Bill and the Quarantine Bill will probably be passed by the MSM-ML-Transfiz majority, thus codifying a new repressive regime – during the rest of confinement, as we move out of confinement, and afterwards – being established as the working class, taken as a whole, has been increasingly weakened by the MSM regime. The working class has been reduced to contract work, seasonal work, working-from-home, part-time work, temporary work, you name it, but not proper employment. The Government has seized the catastrophe of the epidemic so as to impose a new legal framework to enforce this.

Now, in addition to the 4,000 cameras everywhere in Mauritius, we have to have a WAP, or work access permit in order to be moving around. Today at Citizens Advice Bureaus, people queue up for help to apply for WAPs. So you hear a conversation like “Al rod u wap kot kab” a phrase that a few weeks ago would have been gobbledygook.

So, we have a delicate balance, as working people – how to control the virus spread, and keep it down to the zero cases that we have had for 20 days and how to oppose the creeping repression of a Jugnauth regime bent on making people cower to the police and other Authorities. Why I use the word “delicate” is because of the extreme-right-wing propaganda that is undermining all logic, even the control of the epidemic, in its drive to intentionally spread confusion. While we oppose the right, we must also oppose the extreme-right which also opposes the right.

In this blog two days ago, I wrote of the need to identify the sophisticated “false-news” being spread by the far-right. Two days later, there is an article similar to mine from Australia in The Guardian and forwarded to us by a friend:

What is important at the moment is to detect articles that challenge the status quo from the extreme-right, especially knowing that many disguise themselves as “scientific” or humanitarian, well-meaning articles with a “lefty” veneer. We must not spread this truly poisonous confusion-and-chaos-producing propaganda unknowingly.

On this note of checking who is an extreme-right propagandist, we recommend the BBC 6-part film series: The Nazis: A Warning from History that we referred to in a previous blog before we had watched it. Its six “headings” (for each of the six episodes) give an idea of why I suggest the series in these times:

1. Helped into power. This is about who exactly helped Hitler into power.

2. Chaos and consent. In times of chaos and confusion, how consent was extracted.

3. The wrong war. How the actual war that broke out – against Britain and France – was not the war planned against Russia and communism.

4. The wild east. How all the different sub-chiefs ran their own lawless regimes in Poland.

5. The road to Treblinka. How the concentration camps were set up, and linked to extermination camps.

6. Fighting to the end. How Hitler, in his madness and with all his power, fought on to the bitter end, caring for nothing but himself, until he killed himself.

 We live in “new” times, but they are not without lessons from past history. This BBC series – please try to get hold of it – means we will have been warned.

 Lindsey Collen

for LALIT, a personal view.