[Ppnews] Peltier's 69th birthday, calls for clemency continue

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 13 11:35:03 EDT 2013

  Peltier's 69th birthday, calls for clemency continue

by Lori Lovely 

September 13, 2013

There was no cake to put candles on, but the small group gathered on 
Monument Circle on Sept. 12 made a birthday wish anyway. They then 
gathered signatures in support of that wish, which will be forwarded to 
President Obama with a request for executive clemency for political 
prisoner Leonard Peltier, whose 69th birthday they were commemorating.

Organized by Kelly Reagan Tudor, a Lipan Apache mother of two, the rally 
provided an opportunity to educate the public about Peltier. "Most 
people don't know who Leonard is," she said. "Most of them have never 
even heard his name."

Peltier, an Anishinaabe-Lakota and an American Indian Movement activist, 
has been in prison for 38 years for the murder of two FBI agents, a 
crime he insists he didn't commit. Denied a wide range of basic human 
rights, he has endured beatings and been denied medical care for a 
number of health issues.

Amnesty International acknowledges Leonard as a political prisoner, 
listing his case in the "unfair trials" category of its/Annual Report: 
USA 2010, /citing concerns about the fairness of the proceedings. In 
July 2013 the group once again called for his release 
on humanitarian grounds.

They aren't the only ones pleading for Peltier's release. The list of 
notables includes Nelson Mandela; the Dalai Lama; Archbishop Desmond 
Tutu; the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; the 
Parliaments of Europe, Italy and Belgium and the Kennedy Memorial Center 
for Human Rights. Before he passed away, Judge Gerald W. Heaney of the 
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his previous opinion at the 
trial and joined those asking for Peltier's freedom.

The National Congress of American Indians unanimously passed a 
Resolution for Clemency 
for Peltier in November 2011.

James Anaya, special rapporteur with The United Nations Declaration on 
the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 
also supports clemency. He presented his remarks to the United Nations 
in September 2012.

Hoping to collect 300 signatures, Tudor said that upon hearing Peltier's 
story, most passersby signed the petition 
<http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/> urging clemency "right away." She 
plans to forward the petitions to the White House by way of the Leonard 
Peltier Defense Offense Committee.

But, expressing fears that nothing will change, she wonders, "How many 
petitions is it going to take?"

Carrie Castoreno, president of the Native American Student Alliance at 
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, speculates that the 
government is "scared of the uproar" his release would cause. 
Nevertheless, she expresses faith in the president. "I want [President] 
Obama to act. He can make a difference."

So far, he hasn't. Over a year ago the White House received more than 
5,000 electronic signatures and 7,000 hard-copy signatures on a petition 
to free Peltier. Not only has Obama failed to grant executive clemency 
but he has also declined to comment on the petition, citing White House 
policy not to comment on individual pardon applications.

To keep spirits from wavering, Peltier sent a message of encouragement 
to his supporters, writing:

/I am Barack Obama's political prisoner now, and I hope and pray that he 
will adhere to the ideals that impelled him to run for president. But as 
Obama himself would acknowledge, if we are expecting him to solve our 
problems, we missed the point of his campaign. Only by organizing in our 
own communities and pressuring our supposed leaders can we bring about 
the changes that we all so desperately need. //While the current 
administration has done more for our people than any in recent history, 
we cannot stand idly by. We must be involved with bringing about the 
change we need. /

Believing that the time has come to address the many years of abuse 
suffered by Indigenous people, Peltier continued: "We cannot afford to 
sit back and wait for justice and equal treatment for our people. We 
cannot sit back and wait for change and 'hope' that conditions will get 
better. We have to get involved in making that change happen. We have to 
take charge of our destiny."

It's one of the many lessons Peltier has offered to his supporters over 
the years, as his message has become one of unity. In fact, he has 
become a rallying point for disparate tribes. According to Mary White 
Face, who has collected signatures in support of Peltier at more than 
one rally, "All Indians are upset about Leonard being kept in prison."

Recalling a history of mutual support amongst Indigenous peoples, 
Peltier said that is once again the goal at hand. "We want to 
re-establish that relationship. As Indigenous peoples, we must never 
forget that we are all related. The time has come for us to come 
together again, to mend the sacred hoop that forever keeps us as one 
mind in one family. Let no man divide us forever."

To sign the petition asking for executive clemency for Leonard Peltier, 
go to:

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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