[Ppnews] Repression against U.S. political prisoners ongoing
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 21 10:25:12 EST 2008
Repression against U.S. political prisoners ongoing
By Saeed Shabazz
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 Leonards 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 imams 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 dont 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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