Updates for some North American political prisoners, July 2016
Oscar López Rivera: a Vietnam veteran (Puerto Ricans can be drafted but lack direct representational vote in Congress or for the Presidency) he returned to Chicago and became a civil rights and community activist. An Independista and member of the FALN he was sentenced in 1981 to 55 years in prison, primarily for 'seditious conspiracy' against the United States, convictions requiring Independence for Puerto Rico, with an additional 15 years added in 1988 for conspiring to escape a U.S. prison. In 1999, he was offered conditional clemency by President Clinton, an offer accepted by some co-defendants, which he refused because it didn't include two of them, kept him in prison an additional ten years, and was conditional on the surrender of his freedom outside of prison. With principled approval within Puerto Rico and internationally, he believes Puerto Rico will be a free independent socialist nation. At 72, having served 33 years for his beliefs and not convicted of a violent crime he should be pardoned and freed. Background. Partial sources online: "Oscar López Rivera," current, Wikipedia; "Oscar López Rivera: Will Obama Pardon This Political Prisoner? " Dahr Jamail, May28, 2015, Truthout; "Puerto Rico's last political prisoner: is it time for Oscar López Rivera to walk free?" Jaquira Diaz, July 10, 2016, The Guardian.
Djamel Ameziane: in 2009 a U.S.federal court denied his habeas corpus petition on the grounds that he had no military importance - the U.S. was about to grant him transfer to a safe country. This never happened ("Ameziane vs. United States," 5.1.2.: 57-59). Subjected to physical, psychological, and religious abuse, and torture for nearly 12 years at Guantanamo, denied adequate minimal medical services, and yet declared to have no military affect, he was deported to Algeria in chains on Dec. 4, 2013 in violation of the laws of non-refoulement. He had no assets. He was released by Algerian National Security within a week because he was too ill to hold. He is monitored by the International Red Cross (Wikipedia) and Algerian Security services. He isn't tortured but suffers the effects of his U.S. torture and denial of medical care at Guantanamo. In 2014 a U.S. judge refused to honor Ameziane's request for his financial assets, taken away by the U.S. at capture, which prevents the former prisoner from obtaining required medical care. Background. Partial sources online: "Djamel Ameziane," current July 6, 2016, Wikipedia; "Djamel Ameziane vs. United States Case 12.865," Center for Constitutional Rights & Center for Justice and International Law, Sept. 30, 1215, The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; "IACHR Condemns Forced Transfer of Djamel Ameziane from Guantanamo to Algeria," Press release, Dec. 19, 2013, Organization of American States.
Sundiata Acoli: eligible for parole since 1992, he was repeatedly denied parole by a vindictive New Jersey prison system. He shouldn't be in jail. On Sept. 29, 2015, the New Jersey Appellate Court ordered the New Jersey Parole Board to finally set conditions for Sundiata's parole and release; the State appealed and the State Supreme court sent the issue back to the Parole Board for a full administrative review which allowed the Parole Board at his June 8, 2016 hearing, to deny him parole once again and require a longer than normal wait time before his next parole hearing. He was born in 1937.... There is a pattern in the arrest of 'political prisoners', those the political system chooses to focus on, and it's not only a pattern of at least psychological and often tactile torture, but arrest for the purpose of forcing the target to reveal information in exchange for being spared torture or being freed. Sundiata Acoli's parole hearing (or interrogation) consisted of a day of questioning for specific information about the past rather than addressing his accomplishments while in prison. Over 40 years ago, he was convicted without adequate evidence of involvement with Assata Shakur in the death of a State Trooper. Background. Partial sources online: "Sundiata Acoli: Ride and denied," Sundiata Acoli, July 4, 2016, San Francisco BayView; "Black Panther Sundiata Acoli, Co-Defendant of Assata Shakur, Ordered Released After 40 Years," Amy Goodman, Sept. 30, 2014.
Dr. Mutulu Shakur: believing for years he would released on February 10, 2016, Wikipedia reveals there will be a parole date hearing for Dr. Shakur on Dec. 15, 2016. Previous. "It's not how you fall down but how you get up," -Dr. Shakur. Background. Partial sources online: "2016 Legal Update on Denial of Release," Family & friends, Feb. 25, 2016, mutulushakur.com; "Mutulu Shakur, Tupac's Stepfather, Pens Letter To Explain Reports Of Early Release From Prison," Victoria Hernandez, Feb. 29, 2016, Hiphop; "Tupac's Stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, Not Released From Prison," Victoria Hernandez, feb. 12, 2016, Hiphop.
Dr. Rafil Dhafir remains in prison (a Communication Management Unit or CMU) for his 14th year. Unjustly found guilty on fifty counts he was unjustly sentenced to 22 years. His crime: providing medicines and sustenance to Iraqi children, victims of the American bomb and missile attacks and of disasterous Sanctions against the civilian population. His charity, Help the Needy (HTN), helped the needy. In North America the term "political prisoner" doesn't necessarily mean someone who has chosen to go to prison for political ends. It applies to numerous prisoners, most in prison unwillingly, whom the State has found political uses for. Background.
Sami Al Hajj: Falsely arrested Al Jazeera cameraman, was freed from Guantanamo May 1, 2008, flown to Khartoum Sudan and on a stretcher to hospital, ending his 480 day hunger strike. Of Guantanamo he says, "It is an inhumane place; an insult to humanity." Background. Partial sources online: "Sami al-Hajj: Remembering Guantanamo," Sami al-Hajj, Jan. 11,2016, Al Jazeera; "Sami Al Hajj," current, Wikipedia.
Abu Hamza al-Masri: he was extradited by the U.S. from Britain after his British prison sentence was completed. This process was delayed until the European Court of Human Rights could be assured that his treatment in the U.S. wouldn't be too abusive; this was assured by the officials at ADX Florence before his trial and sentencing. An Imam, he pleaded not guilty to the eleven counts against him and received a sentence of life in prison. The charges included the kidnapping of tourists in Yemen and a long distance attempt to set up a training camp in Oregon. He was incarcerated at ADX Florence, Colorado (Wikipedia). N.B.: Background.
Fahad Hashmi continues to serve his 15 year sentence at ADX Florence, the supermax prison. Rather than a violent crime he was convicted on one count of a conspracy charge, for letting a friend stay at his apartment. The friend carried "military" material support for Al Quaeda such as ponchos and socks. He does not belong in prison. He does not belong in a U.S. maximum securty prison. Both the sentence and choice of prison serve the interests of an experiment in psychological warfare rather than justice. Background.Historical note: Fahad Hashmi's case joins those of Imam Abu Hamza al-Masri, Atty. Lynne Stewart, Imam Sheik Abdel-Rahman, Aafia Siddiqui, exemplifying the crushing inability of New York City to honour justice for minorities targeted by U.S. military poliicies. Whereas black community activists in the Sixties and Seventies were targeted for over-long sentences in the City's war on its poor ("urban renewal"), the Bush administration's choices of war on Iraq began a war on Islam using the increasingly upscale high rent districts of Manhattan as venue for its "terrorist" trials, with sure convictions under 'reliable' judges.
Chelsea Manning: serving a thirty five year sentence for the non-violent crime of passing State secrets of illegal State actions , Manning's lawyers have found themselves and all other outside contacts cut off from their client who was taken to the hospital July 5th and then returned to Fort Leavenworth. While the Army did not provide the lawyers with information some sources asserted Manning attempted suicide. Manning is held in a male prison despite her identity as a woman. The history of LGBT Manning's treatment under the U.S. Department of Defense reveals military extra-judicial vengeance and torture. In human terms and under law, Manning was right to reveal evidence of the military's war crimes, which would have been a crime to conceal. She should be pardoned and freed. Background. Partial sources online: "Chelsea Manning 'rushed to hospital after trying to take own life'," Andrew Buncombe , July 6, 2016, Independent; "Chelsea Manning cut off from lawyers amid hospitalization rumors," Ed Pilkington, July 6, 2016, The Guardian; "Chelsea Manning, 28, rushed to the hospital after 'trying to hang herself inside a cell at maximum security prison'," Regina F. Graham, July 6, 2016, Mail online.
Leonard Peltier. Please note his current medical condition: "Peltier is dying a slow, isolated death, over 2,000 miles away from his family. He has already suffered a stroke that left him nearly blind in one eye. He has had a heart attack, has a severely inflamed prostate condition, and diabetes. He is barely able to walk because of untreated bone spurs in his feet, has difficulty eating because of an ever-worsening jaw condition that began after a prison beating."(Talvi /Alternet, 2014). "Earlier this year, Peltier was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a heart condition that will almost certainly end his life without proper treatment" (Holloway / Alternet, 2016). 71 years old with over 40 years in prison Leonard Peltier must be allowed freedom from the pattern of U.S. persecution and genocide against native peoples. Background. Partial sources online: "Wrongfully Convicted, Leonard Peltier Is Turning 70 in Prison," Silja J.A. Talvi, Sept.10, 2014, Alternet; "Please Help Free Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier," Kali Holloway, June 30, 2016, Alternet.
Hassan Almrei: a Syrian refugee, he was arrested in October 2001 through the use of a Canadian Security Certificate; in 2009 a Canadian judge found the Certificate "not reasonable and must be quashed," suggesting a breach of official conduct. Almrei was one of the Canadian Security detainees damaged by repeated hunger strikes to gain his human rights. In May of 2010, he sued the Canadian government for false imprisonment. Currently he is threatened with inadmissability to Canada, which is at the same time a threat of deportation. Background. Partial sources online: "Canada 'Secret Trial’ defendant back in court," Colin Freeze, May 15, 2014, Globe and Mail.
Mohamed Harkat. Though released from imprisonment Mohamed Harkat remains under threat of deportation. It should be noted he was neither convicted of a crime nor charged with a crime nor accused of any violence against anyone. One of five Muslims questionably imprisoned under a Canadian Security Certificate in the aftermath of U.S. September 11th, their suffering continues to serve as a warning to Canada's Muslim population. After substantial abuse he was released by court actions. Mohamed Harkat should be able to live with his wife in Canada if he chooses and without threats of deportation. Background. Also at risk of deportation from Canada is Said Namouh, arrested in 2007, found guilty of propaganda and conspiracy, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. With the possibility of parole after 10 years, he may face deportation. Though found guilty of crimes, he didn't commit a crime of violence. A difficulty with "preventive" arrests, detentions and prosecutions, is that these forfeit the reality of criminal actions to the suppositions that rise from adversarial thoughts and expression. Canada's Supreme Court recognizes this difficulty when applied to people of European ancestry. The Court recently overturned a request for deportation of a non-Muslim, a Nazi war criminal who A. lied about his associations on entry to Canada, and B., was part of a Nazi mobile death squad (Einsatzkommando 10a) alleged responsible for killing 90,000 Jews as well as intellectuals, Roma, Communists & others, in Eastern Europe during WWII. Canada's Supreme Court held that Helmut Oberlander (then a Ukrainian) had served against his will ... and there was no proof he was involved in specific war crimes. This is the third time the government has attempted to deport Helmut Oberlander. His case is returned to Council for a fourth decision. Partial sources online:"Former Nazi interpreter Helmut Oberlander wins citizenship victory in Supreme Court," Kate Buecker, July 7, 2016, CBC News; "This Nazi death squad member will get to keep his Canadian citizenship," Justin Ling, July 7, 2016, Vice.
Librado Jacinto Baños Rodriguez was arrested at his home in Oaxaca Mexico by an armed force of 300, August 2013. An Arbitrary Detention Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council has declared Baños Roderiguez a victim of "retaliation and reprisal" for defending as a lawyer the human rights of indigenous and African descendents in Oaxaca, and demands his release. The Mexican government has not complied. The website of Viento de Libertad currently lists 201 current political prisoners [access:/< http://www.vientodelibertad.org/spip.php?mot4&lang=es >] . There are a great many others. Partial sources online: "There are political prisoners in Mexico, reports the U.N.," Mauricio Romero, Oct. 18, 2015, Contralínea; "Carta a la Autoridad: Falta de atención médica que se constituye como tortura en contra de Librado Baños Rodríguez," April 27, 2016, Comité Cerezo México.
"Updates for some North American political prisoners, July 2016"
by John Bart Gerald
First posted: nightslantern.ca July 12, 2016
j.b.gerald and j.maas
posted 12 july 2016