Stephen Gough, winner of Nicolas Salmeron of Human Rights
Request created by FEN (Spanish Federation of Naturism) to
- The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland
- Kenny MacAskill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice of Scotland
- Prof. Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commision
- Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
To take the necessary action for the immediate and permanent release of Stephen Gough from recurring unjustifiable and unenforceable detention, so that he is able to attend the ceremony at the Ateneo de Madrid on December 10, 2012, where he is to receive the Nicolas Salmeron Human Rights Prize by the International Foundation for Human Rights, who declared him a prisoner of conscience.
Text motivation of the award:
Aung San Suu Kyi, a Gandhi-inspired political activist from Burma, received the Nobel Peace Prize on the 14 of October, 1991. She consequently refused to accept her exile in exchange for her silence. She was confined to house arrest in Rangoon in 1989, bearing witness to “the idea of what is good and fair.” She also got the Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize for her fight for Human Rights and The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. She was acknowledged as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. On the 16th of June, 2012, she was finally able to go to Oslo to personally receive the award. Four days later, on Wednesday the 20th, she was able to go to Oxford University for an Honorary Doctorate bestowed onto her in 1993. On Thursday the 21st of June, 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed both houses of parliament, which is an honour only given to heads of state. The House of Lords and the House of Commons stood up to receive Suu Kyi, who was the second woman to read a speech in Westminster Yard, a setting reserved for historical figures such as Nelson Mandela. As a result, Aung San Suu Kyi has been able to meet again with his children and grandchildren, who live in England and whom she had hardly seen.
Stephen Gough says that when walking in Canada he became aware that he was a good man: ”I realised I was good. Being British, buried in our upbringing is that we’re not good or have to watch ourselves – maybe it comes from religion, or school. I realised that at a fundamental level I’m good, we’re all good, and you can trust that one part of yourself” (www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/23/naked-rambler-prison). If he was good then his body was good: “The human body isn’t offensive. If that’s what we’re saying, as human beings, then it’s not rational.” For Gough, like for hundreds of thousands of people, the philosophy, and its ideology, that propounds the goodness of the human body and its illegitimate criminalization is a well founded system of structured reasons. This ideology, as such, is covered by the Human Rights Declaration (articles 2, 18, 19, 20 and 26) and by a great deal of Treaties signed by Great Britain. The compulsory expression of this ideology, which some call nudism, others call it Naturism (and yet others would rather not give a name to what is only appearance) is nudity. Stephen Gough has been sentenced repeatedly for appearing in court without clothes on. Precisely, that is the most important moment for Stephen to remain assertively naked in front of those who accuse him and judge his philosophy. Similarly, it is in front of a court that may rule on religious freedom that a monk should wear his habits. Stephen Gough wears his, which undoubtedly expresses his ideology, which should be protected by the judges in front of whom he appears. That is the sincere and correct attitude; otherwise it would be tantamount to giving in to a hypocritical judicial system.
Authoritarian systems look for alternative reasons to confine activists; either they are insane and should be interned in mental hospitals to re-educate (“They do evaluations all the time”, Stephen said when he came out after two years in isolation with impeccable psychological exams). Afterwards, they get sentenced for reasons that have little to do with the evident truth: “breach of the peace”, which in Scotland is defined as “conduct which does, or could, cause the lieges [public] to be placed in a state of fear, alarm or annoyance”. He may also be accused of contempt or of assaulting the police as long as there are not any witnesses of the arrest and police fabricate the report.
Two older Scottish women judges ruled, in different instances, that Stephen had not committed any crime not only for being naked in public but neither for appearing in the nude at the court. Finally, the Scottish court of appeal hearing the case ruled that “breach of the peace” was good enough to criminalise his behaviour. His sentences had been piling up ever since to a total of two years of confinement, which was becoming a de facto sentence to life in isolation and under torture. As he had firmly decided to also stand by his philosophy there, he was not allowed to mingle with other prisoners. “Mr Gough is asked every morning if he is willing to get dressed and take part in the daily regime”, said a spokesperson for the prison of Perth, “This he refuses. Due to his refusal to wear clothes, we cannot move him around the prison, meaning all services come to him in his cell.” As in the strictest of Gulags, he was tortured and tested every morning to see if they had been able to bend his will, if his re-education had been successful, thus, adding this permanent daily trial of the prison wards to that of the judge that sentenced him. By doing so, the prison wards assigned themselves the role of moral police (Perth prison: www.sps.gov.uk/Prisons/Perth/perth.aspx).
In our comfortable free Europe we tend to think that Human Rights violations take place beyond our borders. We get to know some of them because of the actions of heroes such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela (who left the prison after 27 years of a life sentence confinement). We reward and welcome them with the highest honours, even in our parliaments, and we condemn those regimes that violate freedom of conscience. Sometimes we even watch, condemn and apply legal sanctions against laws that go against freedom of the press in Hungary and Poland, and we may demonstrate against xenophobia in countries like Greece, Italy or France.
We have a hero, who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, a prisoner of conscience with a sentence that amounts to life in prison, in absolute isolation in British prisons. Simultaneously, the British government appears as defending the very rights it steps on by receiving Suu Kyi. And all that just for defending the goodness of human beings and sustaining that in the Scottish and English courts.
The Spanish Naturist Federation, FEN (www.naturismo.org), has proposed Stephen Gough to be declared a prisoner of conscience and honoured for his work on behalf of the dignity of the human body to the several organizations that defend human rights. The «International Foundation for Human Rights» (http://fundacion.in) was the first to meet our request and granted the prestigious «Nicolas Salmeron» (www.facebook.com/premio.salmeron), in its fourth edition. It is necessary that the British Government order his immediate release to attend the ceremony and receive the Prize, on nudity if desired, on 10 December this year 2012 at the Ateneo de Madrid at 12 noon.
The European Union must intervene. The UN Human Rights commission must intervene. Amnesty International must declare him a conscientious objector. Organizations for the defence of Human Rights inside and outside Britain must award Stephen Gough their prizes and propose him as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.
As Stephen Gough says in a letter to a reporter who interviewed him: “We can either end up living a life that others expect of us or lives based on our own truth. The difference is the difference between living a conscious life or one that is unconscious. And that’s the difference between living and not living.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/23/naked-rambler-prison)
Proposal by Ismael Rodrigo, President of the FEN (www.naturismo.org).
Sign in: https://www.change.org/es/peticiones/freedom-to-stephen-gough-prisoner-of-conscience-in-a-british-prison