[Ppnews] Repression against U.S. political prisoners ongoing

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 21 10:25:12 EST 2008


National News
Repression against U.S. political prisoners ongoing
By Saeed Shabazz
Staff Writer
Updated Nov 21, 2008, 12:05 am

NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) - A week after the 
Jericho Amnesty Movement held October rallies and 
workshops here to commemorate their 10th 
anniversary as a coalition dedicated to freeing 
political dissidents in U.S. prisons, there were 
charges that repression continues.

   (Part two in a two-part series)

“More activism and support is needed in the 
campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal,” wrote lead 
defense attorney Robert R. Ryan, in an internet 
message to supporters of the former Black Panther 
and journalist. “There are new developments in 
the case that are the most significant and deadly 
since his 1981 arrest. The prosecution has 
advised the U.S. Supreme Court that they (will) 
seek reversal of the federal court decision, 
which granted a new jury trial on the question of 
the death penalty,” Mr. Ryan wrote. Mr. Abu-Jamal 
was convicted of killing a White police officer 
in 1981. Supporters said he was targeted because 
of his activism and was not given a fair trial.

“If the U.S. Supreme Court rules for the DA and 
overturns the federal court ruling, Mumia can be 
executed without having a new penalty phase jury 
trial, which would allow us to introduce new 
evidence which could free Mumia,” said Mr. Ryan.

The Leonard Peltier Defense/Offense Committee 
sent out an alert informing supporters that the 
Federal Bureau of Prisons was planning to move 
the Native American freedom fighter to another 
facility. “There seems to be a strategy by the 
federal government to disrupt Leonard’s defense 
committee through these transfers,” according to 
Betty Ann Peltier-Solana, executive coordinator of the defense committee.

Ms. Solana said attorneys asked that Mr. Peltier 
be transferred to a facility closer to his home 
reservation, either a prison in Sandstone, Minn., 
or Oxford, Wis. He is currently held at the 
federal prison in Lewisburg, Penn. Mr. Peltier 
was convicted of murder in connection with a 
shootout between FBI agents and members of the 
American Indian Movement in 1975.

The governors of New York and California are 
refusing to allow Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim, 
members of the San Francisco 8, to be transferred 
from their San Francisco County jail cells to New 
York for parole hearings, supporters complain. 
“Judge Philip Moscone signed an order in May 
allowing both men to return to New York state for 
their parole hearings. All parties agreed at the 
time that the move would be temporary; Herman and 
Jalil waived their rights to fight extradition 
back to Calif.,” wrote Claude Marks of the 
California-based Committee for the Defense of 
Human Rights. According to Mr. Marks, both men 
have served over 35 years in prison and have been called model inmates.

The San Francisco 8 are awaiting trial on charges 
they were involved in the 1971 killing of a 
police officer. “The ‘SF8’ is another example of 
how the government seeks to crush 
self-determination and any challenges to the 
status quo,” Mr. Marks told The Final Call.

Harold Taylor, another SF8 member, was convicted 
on what supporters called “bogus” drug charges in 
Panama City, Fla. He will be sentenced Dec. 9. 
Supporters contend he was simply in the wrong 
place at the wrong time. Mr. Taylor was already out on bail in the SF8 case.

Karimah Al-Amin, attorney and wife of Imam Jamil 
Al-Amin, formerly known as Black Panther leader 
H. Rap Brown, told The Final Call the only thing 
her husband is guilty of “is fighting for the 
rights of African Americans and fighting for the 
rights of Muslims.” Her husband spends 23 hours a 
day in a cell. He is allowed five social visits a 
month and two phone calls a week. Imam Al-Amin, 
who led an Islamic community in Atlanta, is 
serving life without parole plus 35 years at the 
Supermax facility in Florence, Colo., for the 
fatal shooting of one Atlanta deputy and wounding 
of a second deputy in March 2000.

The imam served five and a half years in 
administrative segregation in the state prison at Reidsville, Ga.

Mrs. Al-Amin said on Oct. 6, the Supreme Court 
agreed with the Georgia Circuit Court of Appeals 
that the prison administration at Reidsville 
violated the imam’s first amendment rights by 
opening his legal mail and denying visits from 
his attorney, who is also his wife.

“The state of Georgia must settle financially 
with my husband, but they are hiding behind the 
Prison Litigation Reform Act, which prevents 
inmates from getting a large settlement,” Mrs. 
Al-Amin said. “We consider Imam Jamil to be a prisoner of war,” she said.

“When I look at the names of those in Florence 
with my husband, you would have to say it is a 
place for political prisoners,” Mrs. Al-Amin 
added. Also incarcerated at the federal facility 
are Dr. Mutulu Shakur of the Black Liberation 
Army and the Republic of New Africa; Sekou Odinga 
of the Black Liberation Army; Dr. Malachi Z. York 
of the Nuwaubian Nation; Imam Malik Khaba 
(formerly Jeff Fort), founder of the Blackstone 
Rangers street gang in Chicago; Larry Hoover of 
Growth and Development, formerly the Gangster 
Disciple street gang in Chicago. “They refer to 
the prison as the ‘stateside Guantanamo,’” she said.

Lance Tapley, a journalist who has written 
extensively on prisons in the U.S., has made 
critical observations on the use of solitary 
confinement. “Supermax confinement is repulsive, 
immoral mass torture that is historically 
unprecedented. I would also suggest it is illegal 
under international law,” he told the National 
Lawyers Guild at its 70th anniversary convention last October.

Solitary disrupts “profoundly the sense of 
personality,” meeting the Senate standard for one 
mark of mental torture and the Senate recognizes 
mental torture to be a companion of physical suffering, Mr. Tapley said.

Over the years political prisoners in the U.S. 
have been represented by a battery of politically 
astute lawyers, including Chokwe Lumumba, Lynn 
Stewart, Roger Wareham, Adjoa Aiyetoro, Ashanti 
Chimurenga and Michael Tarif Warren.

“People don’t know about the issue of political 
prisoners and prisoners of war in the United 
States,” Mr. Warren told The Final Call. “People 
must be educated on how the system is violating 
their eighth amendment rights. Take for instance, 
we fought to have Bashir Hameed moved to a 
facility with a hospital that would help with his 
cancer, but they let him die,” Atty. Warren said.

Mr. Hameed was the New Jersey deputy chairman of 
the Black Panther Party and a member of the Black 
Liberation Army. He was convicted in the 1981 
murder of a New York policeman and attempted 
murder of his partner. He was given a 25-year 
sentence after three trials and died Aug. 30.

“This is a mean spirited system that is only 
concerned with retribution, because they perceive 
that these people are a threat to the system,” Atty. Warren said.

Mr. Hameed was the fifth political prisoner to 
die behind bars in this era, advocates said.

“Imam Jamil talks all the time about the need to 
get the issue of political prisoners back on the 
front burner,” said Mrs. Al-Amin.

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content supplied by FCN and FinalCall.com News is 
Copyright © 2008 FCN Publishing, FinalCall.com. 
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