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political prisoners

Leonard Peltier Denied Parole

The federal Parole Commission has denied Leonard Peltier’s request for parole, Peltier’s legal team announced on Tuesday, July 2. This marks a major setback for the longest-held political prisoner in the United States, who had his first parole hearing in over a decade on June 10. Peltier, who was active in the American Indian Movement (AIM) and a beacon for both the Indigenous struggle in the United States and the struggle to free political prisoners, now will continue to languish in prison for an undetermined amount of time. According to Peltier’s lawyer, Kevin Sharp, an interim hearing has been scheduled for 2026, while a full hearing has been scheduled for June 2039, when Peltier will be 94.

The People’s Struggle Will Free Leonard Peltier

Earlier this month, Leonard Peltier, world-renowned Indigenous freedom fighter and the longest-held political prisoner in the United States, had his first parole hearing in over a decade. The movement to free Peltier now awaits the decision resulting from that hearing, on whether or not Peltier will receive parole and be able to go home after almost half a century behind bars. For more perspective on Peltier’s case, Peoples Dispatch spoke to Gloria La Riva, who for decades has been a part of Peltier’s struggle. In 2020, La Riva ran for President of the United States with Peltier as Vice President, under the ticket of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

Parole Commission: It’s Long Past The Time To Free Leonard Peltier

For the first time in 15 years, Leonard Peltier will be afforded a full parole hearing on Monday, June 10 at the United States Penitentiary at Coleman, Fla. Peltier (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) has been incarcerated for 48 years for the killing of two FBI agents at Oglala on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in June 1975. For five decades, Peltier has maintained his innocence and hoped for the chance to clear his name. Monday’s hearing may well be his last chance at vindication. The incident that led to Peltier’s imprisonment happened some 49 years ago, when two FBI agents — Jack Coler and Ronald Williams — arrived at a residence on the reservation to pursue a suspect who had taken a pair of shoes in a robbery.

Palestinian Lawyers Are Working Harder Than Ever To Support Prisoners

On May 11, CNN obtained footage of what appears to be Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel’s Sde Teiman military base in horrifying conditions, depicting prisoners being “warehoused” in an overcrowded camp and forced to sit blindfolded and handcuffed. While these revelations — which came from three Israeli whistleblowers — are causing an uproar worldwide on social media and prompting “concern” from the U.S. government, the mistreatment of Palestinian detainees held in Israeli-run facilities is hardly anything new. According to the Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association Addameer, there are 9,500 Palestinian political prisoners currently being held in detention — a quickly rising number since the events of Oct. 7.

Mumia Turns 70 On April 24

Political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal will turn 70 on April 24.  This important life milestone will be observed in Philadelphia with an afternoon demonstration outside City Hall and District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office.  Also, 1,000 petitions, collected in France, will be delivered to Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s satellite office, demanding that Mumia be released to rejoin his family and to seek necessary medical care. An evening indoor gathering will be held at the historic Waters Memorial AME Church at 11th and South streets.

Demand Medical Care For Political Prisoner, Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier is still in need of urgent medical care. Your efforts, along with the strong advocacy of Leonard’s legal team and the Ad Hoc Committee, got the attention of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). However, BOP personnel informed Leonard that he will need to wait at least 8-10 months to see an eye specialist. This is unacceptable. The BOP has deprived Leonard of necessary medical care for decades and in doing so has sentenced Leonard to Death By Incarceration. Locked down for 22 hours a day in high security prison USP Coleman I, Leonard, who is almost 80 years old, suffers from multiple severe health conditions.

How To Resist The Deliberate Medical Neglect Of Our Political Prisoners

Dr Joy James asked a crucial question on a Guerilla University podcast which she co-hosted with Kalonji Changa on February 13th, 2024: " How does one organize a resistance against the medical assassination of our elders behind bars?" As abolitionists, we believe that there is no resistance without testimony and in this case without first person singular testimony about the reality of the hidden and daily torture of death by incarceration that Mumia Abu-Jamal calls slow death row. The common denominator that links all our political prisoners is slow death row.

20 Years Too Many, Free Simon Trinidad Now!

On January 2, 2004, under the orders of the U.S. government and the CIA, Ecuadorian and Colombian forces kidnapped and arrested Colombian revolutionary Simon Trinidad. 20 years detained and imprisoned is 20 too many. That needs to change immediately, and conditions are better than ever for activists in the U.S. and Colombia to push for his freedom. A member of the revolutionary organization and army of the people, the FARC, since 1987, Trinidad was a leading thinker and peace negotiator. Acting in that role, Trinidad’s and the FARC’s peace-seeking efforts have been routinely sabotaged by the U.S. government and the far-right Colombian oligarchy.

Inside The High-Security ‘Black Site’ Where Leonard Peltier Is Incarcerated

Unbeknownst to most protesters who gathered at the White House on the occasion of Native American political prisoner Leonard Peltier’s 79th birthday, Peltier wasn’t able to celebrate, much less receive reports on how the well-attended event was progressing. That’s because Peltier, who is now spending his 48th year in captivity, was sitting on his bunk, across from his cellie, “locked down” in a cramped and concrete maximum-security cell designed for one man. The Bureau of Prison’s “lockdown” phenomenon has spread to other federal facilities, but nowhere is as pronounced and as repressive as at USP Coleman I, part of the nation’s biggest federal prison complex, FCC Coleman, which consists of four prisons of various security levels.

Taking Lessons From Black Political Prisoners During Black August

From local police outfitted with military-grade equipment, to nonviolent protesters jailed on terrorism charges, the spectacle of state repression has become an increasingly visible part of the Black liberation struggle in U.S. cities. Police and prisons have long served as a conduit for stamping out Black-led protest movements, especially when those movements openly challenge capitalism and state power. Between the 1960s and 1980s, for example, local, state and federal law enforcement coordinated massive campaigns to dismantle radical groups like the Black Panthers, Republic of New Afrika and Black Liberation Army, using long prison sentences to take their members off the map.

Human Rights Organizations Urge Biden To Release Alex Saab

On August 2, hundreds of social and human rights organizations around the world sent an open letter to US President Joe Biden, calling for the release of imprisoned Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab. The signatories include two Nobel Peace Prize winners, the Tunisian League for Human Rights and Alfonso Perez Esquivel, as a member of the Observatory of Human Rights of the Peoples. Other signatories include the National Lawyers Guild in the US, the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) of Brazil, and Argentina’s Frente Patria Grande. The letter urges Biden to consider Saab’s health conditions, as he is “not receiving medical attention, despite being a cancer survivor and having reported several ailments, including vomiting blood.”

COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era Prisoners On The Agenda Of A UN Panel

Greenville, SC - Atlanta's April 26th UN Delegation session, bearing the 2010 human rights campaign theme, “Putting COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era Political Prisoners, Prisoners of War, and Exiles on the Global Agenda,” featured PP/POWs/Exiles in person, their relatives, and former co-defendants, has generated a buzz that will hopefully become a storm of sustained substantive activity for their release and relief.  It seems to have had the humanizing effect our interned comrades, their relatives, and we longtime advocates could only conjure in our dreams. Since 2010, with the visionary support of the U.S. Human Rights Network's founding director, Ajamu Baraka and his successor, Kali Akuno, I've been boarding planes to Geneva, Switzerland, to talk to UN Human Rights Council members, Commission staffers, treaty body reviewer mechanism experts, and others.

Take Action To Demand Justice For Our Political Prisoners

This week, Clearing the FOG speaks with two advocates for the freedom of political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier. Mumia Abu-Jamal is waiting to hear if Judge Lucretia Clemons will grant a new hearing on his case that includes new evidence of corruption in the legal process that led to his false conviction. On February 16, port workers will strike on the West Coast in support of an international day of action in for Mumia. Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio talks about his case and the carceral state. Leonard Peltier has now served almost 50 years in prison on a murder charge involving FBI agents. Coleen Rowley, a whistleblower formerly with the FBI, recently wrote to President Biden asking for clemency for Peltier. Rowley discusses the COINTEL Program, which is very much alive, and the culture inside the FBI. Both call on the public to take action to free Abu-Jamal and Peltier.

Thursday, February 16: Free Mumia Abu Jamal!

This is the hour to fight for Mumia’s freedom. On Thursday, Feb. 16th, longshore workers in ILWU Local 10 will shut down the Ports of Oakland and San Francisco to demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Mumia was framed for killing a police officer. With Tyree Nichols’ murder, we know who the real criminals are! Other actions are being organized for Feb. 16: Unions in South Africa will demonstrate in Pretoria at the U.S. Embassy, and in Durban at the U.S. Consulate. Railroad workers in Japan (in the Doro-Chiba union) will organize a demonstration for Mumia in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Bay Area teachers will also teach on Mumia’s case on February 16th. We call on all Bay Area justice supporters to hold the date of Feb. 16 to join the ILWU action for Mumia ‘s freedom. More info will be sent out shortly. Why now? Judge Lucretia Clemons of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has ordered the Philadelphia District Attorney to turn over its files up to 200 boxes to Mumia’s defense team.

The Two Types Of Death Penalties

A political prisoner is a person targeted or imprisoned because of their political actions, affiliations and/or beliefs. A political prisoner is also an individual, who while incarcerated, transforms themselves from a social prisoner by gaining clarity, embracing and maintaining political struggle. Thirty-seven-year-old Kevin “KJ” Johnson is scheduled to be executed by the State of Missouri on November 29th; most would not view him as a “political prisoner.”  However, given the poverty, neglect, suffering and abuse that comes with being a captive in domestic colonies and urban enclaves within a capitalist and imperialist state, from the onset Kevin was undoubtedly a victim of US politics and policing. On July 5, 2005, 19-year-old Kevin “KJ” Johnson witnessed his 12- year-old brother, “Bam Bam” collapse while police conducted a search of their grandmother’s home. 
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