[Ppnews] Political prisoners struggle for justice
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 12 11:41:27 EDT 2009
Political prisoners struggle for justice
By Saeed Shabazz
Updated Mar 12, 2009, 11:19 am
(FinalCall.com) - Defenders of Native American
activist Leonard Peltier, 64, are turning their
attention to President Barack Obama hoping that
the new administration will move the issue of his
incarceration to the front burner.
Supporters of Native American activist Leonard
Peltier hope that the Obama administration will do justice in his case.
Supporters from around the nation gathered Feb. 6
in Denver, Colo., to commemorate the 33rd
anniversary of Mr. Peltiers 1977 conviction in
the murder of two FBI agents during a shootout on
a South Dakota Indian reservation.
Over the years Mr. Peltier has garnered worldwide
support from political leaders, organizations
such as Amnesty International, the Dalai Lama and
various celebrities. Observers say the underlying
themes of whether he received a fair trialand
acknowledgement of historical abuses against
Native Americans, huge poverty on reservations,
horrifying suicide rates and high unemploymentfuel Mr. Peltiers support base.
David Hill, 65, of Oklahoma, national coordinator
for the Leonard Peltier Defense-Offense Committee
joined the American Indian Movement with Mr.
Peltier in the 1970s. He explained to The Final
Call that Mr. Peltiers supporters are turning to
President Obama for executive clemency.
We believe now more than ever in Leonards
innocence and he has been a model prisoner. So
why not free him? Mr. Hill asked.
Former 2008 Green Party presidential candidate
Cynthia McKinney in a letter to President Obama
said, pardoning Mr. Peltier is but a down
payment on the path of justice and reconciliation
our country so sorely needs. Peltier should be
released. He has become a global symbol of
injustice and prison abuse; a man who was never
given a fair trial, Ms. McKinney stated in her letter.
Amnesty International acknowledged Mr. Peltiers
status as a political prisoner in actions before
the United Nations in 1992 and in a statement
commemorating the 33rd anniversary of his
incarceration noted that they recognize a retrial
is no longer a feasible option. Leonard Peltier
should be irrevocably and unconditionally
released, Amnesty International said.
Attorney Michael Kuzma of Buffalo, N.Y., has
become Mr. Peltiers lead counsel and he informed
The Final Call that he just visited his client at
the Lewisburg Federal Facility on Feb. 21. He is
in good spirits, and he wants to thank all of his
supporters for standing with him during those
difficult days when he had been transferred out
of Lewisburg to the Canaan facility. He wants to
get support for a transfer closer to his South
Dakota home, where he believes the atmosphere
would be more conducive to possible parole after
his December hearing, Mr. Kuzma said.
Mr. Kuzma also said supporters believe they have
a friendly ear in the White House now.
President Obama on Feb. 10 appointed Jodi
Archambault Gillette, a member of the Sioux
Nation, as deputy associate director of the
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which was
held by a non-Native American during the days of the Bush administration.
First lady Michelle Obama made an historical
visit to the Interior Dept. on Feb 10, saying,
Barack has pledged to honor the unique
government to government relationship between
tribes and the federal government.
But developments have also occurred with other
political prisoners. News concerning Mumia Abu
Jamals case came in an e-mail message from his
San Francisco-based attorney, Robert R. Bryan.
On Feb. 4, the U.S. Supreme Court docketed and
accepted for filing the Petition for Writ of
Certiorari that had been submitted on Dec. 19, 2008, Mr. Bryan said.
Mr. Abu Jamal was sent to death row in 1983 for
the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer
during a traffic stop. Mr. Abu Jamal was well
known as an activist with the Black Panther Party
and for his hard-hitting investigative community journalism.
The central issue in this case is racism in jury
selection. The prosecutor systematically removed
people from sitting on the trial jury because of
the color of their skin, said Mr. Bryan.
Mr. Bryan warned that the city prosecutor was
attempting to overturn the ruling by the Third
Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the
death penalty ruling was incorrect and ordered a
new trial on the question of the death sentence.
The attorney said that he had filed a brief of
opposition with the Supreme Court on Feb. 13.
Now what occurs in the Supreme Court will
determine whether Mumia will have a new trial or die, Mr. Bryan stressed.
Another important hearing concerning a political
prisoner will take place March 3 before the Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Albert
Woodfox, one of the Angola 3 inmates in
Louisiana. Herman Wallace, Robert King and Mr.
Woodfox were convicted of killing a prison guard
in 1973 at the 18,000 acre former slave
plantation known as Angola state prison. The men
were held for 36 years in solitary confinement
and in 2001, Mr. King was freed. The three had
become outspoken critics of the conditions at
Angola, which began to receive attention from
Black Louisiana politicians and prison activists.
In July 2008, a federal judge over turned Mr.
Woodfoxs conviction after a state judicial
magistrate ruled his trial was unfair due to
inadequate legal representation, prosecutorial
misconduct, suppression of exculpatory evidence
and racial discrimination in the grand jury selection process.
Each side will argue on March 3 for 20 minutes
after which the court could take from one to six
months to render a decision. If the jurists
uphold the ruling, the state has 120 days to
decide to re-try Mr. Woodfox or release him, according to his supporters.
The trials and tribulations of Imam Jamil
Abdullah Al-Amin continue and Karimah Al-Amin,
his attorney and wife, reported that towards the
end of 2008 her husband was transferred from a
Georgia state prison to a supermax facility in
Florence, Colo. This stems from a March 1990
agreement between Georgia and the federal prison
system that people they cannot handle could be
sent to a federal facility, and Georgia would pay
for it, Ms. Al-Amin explained to The Final Call.
She said the imam was recently stripped searched
and placed into a cell with no bed, no shower and
no control over the lights. They have also taken
his Quran, Ms. Al-Amin said. When he asked a
guard when he could make a phone call, the guard told him in 90 days.
Imam Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, was
a founder of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC). He was convicted in 2002 of
killing a Georgia sheriffs deputy and wounding
another while they attempted to serve a warrant for a traffic ticket.
The continued harassment of the imam is a
continuation of the governments COINTEL
program, Ms. Al-Amin said. The government is
also angry that he continues to preach Islam
whenever he enters the prison population, she
said. Its just the way they have treated him
over the past 40 years, Ms. Al-Amin said.
In 2001, neo-conservative columnist, Daniel Pipes
wrote concerning the imam: Even as he sits in a
Georgia jail, the Washington-based American
Muslim Council hails him as a leader in the American Muslim community.
To support Imam Al-Amins release from solitary
confinement please write: Warden Ron Wiley, USP
Florence ADMAX, U.S. Penitentiary, P.O. Box 8500,
Florence, Colo. 81226. The imams prison ID number is 99974-555.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews