Seems to me that many terrorists are the epitome of political prisoners. According to MI5:
Although there is no generally agreed definition of terrorism internationally, in the UK the Terrorism Act 2000 new window defines terrorism as:
The use or threat of action designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public, or a section of the public; made for the purposes of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause; and it involves or causes:
serious violence against a person;
serious damage to a property;
a threat to a person’s life;
a serious risk to the health and safety of the public; or
serious interference with or disruption to an electronic system.
See my emphasis there? If someone is in jail for a politically-motivated act, surely he is a political prisoner?
Groups like Amnesty International pick and choose amongst politically-motivated prisoners – from Wikipedia:
AI uses the term “political prisoner” broadly. It does not use it, as some others do, to imply that all such prisoners have a special status or should be released. It uses the term only to define a category of prisoners for whom AI demands a fair and prompt trial.
In AI’s usage, the term includes any prisoner whose case has a significant political element: whether the motivation of the prisoner’s acts, the acts in themselves, or the motivation of the authorities.
“Political” is used by AI to refer to aspects of human relations related to “politics”: the mechanisms of society and civil order, the principles, organization, or conduct of government or public affairs, and the relation of all these to questions of language, ethnic origin, sex or religion, status or influence (among other factors).
The category of political prisoners embraces the category of prisoners of conscience, the only prisoners who AI demands should be immediately and unconditionally released, as well as people who resort to criminal violence for a political motive.
See how airy-fairy their definition is? It’s a nonsense.
Look at the case of Nelson Mandela. He was almost universally viewed as a political prisoner. But was he non-violent? Again, from Wikipedia:
Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961, leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. In 1962, he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.
Bloody hypocrisy. “One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” blah blah, okay, but surely he’s a political prisoner whether you sympathise with him or not?
Go see Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and ask him if he was a political prisoner. When he was tried for being near a car containing 250 pounds (110 kg) of explosives and nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition, he refused to accept the legitimacy of the court and declared his membership of the Provisional IRA without equivocation: “We have fought against the killing of our people… I am a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann and very, very proud of it.”