Sekou Kambui spent forty years behind bars as a political prisoner, and now he needs our help! The former Panther, CORE, and SCLC member was diagnosed with liver cancer shortly after his release, and has been in and out of the hospital for cancer treatment as well as other health problems, including severe edema in his leg. The edema requires almost weekly trips to the hospital to have fluid drained from his leg, an expense in time and money he can’t afford. Though chemotherapy has produced encouraging results so far, the medical bills keep piling up. Despite his poor health, Sekou has continued his work with the organization he founded in prison, the Social Consciousness Development Group, and has continued to speak publicly on behalf of U.S. Political Prisoners. Now he needs our support to get through the trying times ahead. Help Sekou Kambui continue his long fight for justice in good health!
It was with true sadness that , on August 13th, I received the news that legendary California prison activist Hugo Pinell, was killed in a California prison. This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice and let me share a few thoughts about the life and death of this extraordinary man.
I never personally knew Hugo Pinell. The simple reason for that is because Hugo Pinell was locked up in California state prisons for 50 years! That is insane. It is hard to wrap you mind around the reality of someone being held captive for 50 years. Even more insane, for most of those years he was held in isolation-segregation cells.
Hugo was just released from segregation and it is being reported that he was killed by two white prisoners. There was a serious uprising or riot that also took place at this time.
Hugo Pinell spent decades teaching, advocating and struggling for Human Rights, justice and dignity for prisoners. He taught and fought for racial and revolutionary unity among all prisoners. Locked up in 1965, like many other prisoners at that time, Hugo became politicized inside the California prison system. In addition to exploring his Nicaraguan heritage, Hugo was influenced by activists like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, as well as his comrades inside, including George Jackson. His leadership in combating the racism and brutality of prison officials made him a prime target for retribution and Hugo soon found himself in the notorious San Quentin Adjustment Center.
While in San Quentin, Hugo and five other politically conscious prisoners were charged with participating in the August 21, 1971 rebellion, which resulted in the assassination of George Jackson by prison guards on that day. Hugo Pinell, Willie Tate, Johnny Spain, David Johnson, Fleeta Drumgo and Luis Talamantez became known as the San Quentin Six. They had a very public 16 month trial. The San Quentin Six became a global symbol of unyielding resistance against the prison system and its violent, racist design. Hugo spent decades in segregation, but continued to work for racial unity and human rights for prisoners.
Personally, I am of course upset that a brother like Hugo was killed, by what I have to assume were some reactionary fascist minded prisoners. But truly what I mainly feel is sadness, profound sadness at this news.
Hugo Pinell is gone. His bid, his sentence is now ended. After 50 years of captivity, that is not a bad thing. Even as an elderly
person, in his 70s, Hugo Pinell died in the struggle. The hands that struck him down, it is reported, were prisoners, but the actual force that killed him was the capitalist police state prison system that holds 2.2 million men, women and children in captivity.
Hugo Pinell, we will remember you brother and your strong life long example of resistance. We will continue this resistance and this struggle for Freedom.
This is Jaan Laaman.
On 9th March 2009, Constable Stephen Carrol was shot dead in the Lismore Manor area of Craigavon during an attack claimed by the Continuity IRA. In May 2011, Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton were charged with his murder and in March 2012, they were both found guilty in a non-jury diplock court and handed life sentences. Brendan McConville was given a minimum 25 year term and John Paul Wootton was given a minimum fourteen year term. Their appeal, which was expected to have been heard on 29th April 2013 ended abruptly and was postponed after it was claimed by a defence lawyer that the PSNI had sabotaged the appeal by arresting and attempting to ‘nobble’ a key defence witness who would have discredited key prosecution evidence. At the same time, both defence teams for Brendan and John Paul were put under sinister and covert surveillance by British intelligence in an attempt to jeopardize the right to a fair appeal hearing and also to discredit the names of the defence lawyers. Due to the sinister nature of this surveillance, the threat level against the defence teams was raised to such an extent that the United Nations have been brought in to protect the defence lawyers. The appeal that had been postponed from 29th April 2013 was then heard on 29th May 2014 and it was dismissed. On 14th October 2014, John Paul Wootton’s sentence was increased to a minimum of eighteen years. The latest development came on 24th October 2014, when a judge certified a legal question by the defence lawyers which will now be taken to the Supreme Court.
Many people will be of the opinion that, if these two men have been found guilty based on the evidence produced by the prosecution, then they should serve their time. Others, for example, the ‘democratic’ unionist/loyalist people who inhabit the occupied six counties of Ireland will constantly refer to themselves as law-abiding citizens and will blindly accept without question the evidence produced by the prosecution, particularly when those who have been found guilty are from a Nationalist/Republican background. There are those who will issue finely worded statements before they return their heads to the holes in the sand. Thankfully however, we have people like Monsignor Raymond Murray, Independent Councillor Angela Nelson, TD’s such as Clare Daly, Eamon Ó Cuiv, Mick Wallace, Maureen O’Sullivan and many others who are speaking out because they can see clearly the high level of skulduggery that has been used within British courts to convict these two men. These are just some of the many people who today, are continuing to fight for justice for Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton. The late Gerry Conlon spoke out and he fought for justice for Brendan and John Paul until the end, because Gerry was one of the many Irishmen and Irishwomen who have had first-hand experience of British injustice and British miscarriages of justice and British brutality and British skulduggery.
The case of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton has become known as The Craigavon Two. A key prosecution witness, known as Witness M. only came forward and contacted the PSNI to offer information eleven months after the shooting and when he did so, he was heavily intoxicated. It has been proven that Witness M continuously lied under oath and due to the fact that his eyesight is affected by a condition known as astigmatism, the information offered by Witness M as an ‘eyewitness’ was medically impossible. The identity of Witness M, although known, was hidden from the court which prevented a thorough and proper cross-examination. Witness M has also benefitted financially for providing the PSNI with his ‘eyewitness’ account.
Witness M’s partner who was with him on the night in question did not corroborate his statement of events. The father of Witness M has also discredited the statement of events by his son and has described his son as both a Walter Mitty character and a compulsive liar. The father of Witness M was arrested by the PSNI prior to the 29th April 2013 appeal in an attempt to force him to retract his statement concerning the unreliability of his sons ‘eyewitness’ account. The PSNI also claimed that the father of Witness M was forced at gunpoint by the defence team, in association with the IRA, to discredit his sons ‘eyewitness’ account.
It has been proven that a British army undercover unit were involved in tampering with and also deleting information gathered using surveillance equipment. The AK47 gun used in the attack had a partial fingerprint on the magazine. This fingerprint did not belong to either Brendan McConville or John Paul Wootton. A note containing personal details of the prison governor was found in Brendan McConville’s cell and this was used as evidence of bad character against Brendan in court. It has been proven that this note was planted by a prison officer within Maghaberry in an attempt to influence public opinion. During the appeal, the court admitted that the prosecution evidence did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Brendan and John Paul were guilty.
The Craigavon Two campaign needs the support of people across the world to undertake acts of solidarity in support of the campaign, to publicize the case via the media and online social networking sites and to let the British judiciary and the British government know that once again the world is watching.
Full details of the case facts can be found on http://justiceforthecraigavontwo.com/facts-of-their-case.
Listen to two powerful new statements from 4strugglemag editor Jaan Laaman, featured on Prison Radio:
Stop the forced closures of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and all across Australia. These were the opening words of a solidarity statement political prisoners in the United States, recently sent to Aboriginal communities in Australia.
This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice, coming to you from the federal prison in Tucson, Arizona. Let me share some ugly information with you, that the mainstream U.S. corporate media is not reporting. The government of the State of Western Australia recently announced the imminent closure of almost 150 Aboriginal communities and towns. By closure, it means that the water and electricity and the schools and health care facilities, in these towns, will be shut down. The Western Australia government has decided and decreed that Aboriginal communities must be located no more that 100 kilometers from large towns or cities. Any Aboriginal towns and communities located further away can be closed.
This sounds absurd in the 21st century. This is nothing but a racist, blatantly colonialist assault against the original indigenous people of Australia. This policy really sounds like it is designed to drive people off their land. By emptying Aboriginal areas of their inhabitants, the land becomes available to the huge mining corporations that are closely linked with the Western Australian government.
The Western Australian government has tried to explain its policy by labeling Aboriginal communities as “dysfunctional”. They are trying to demonize these communities by raising issues like alcohol abuse, unemployment, child abuse and poverty. No doubt such problems do exist in Aboriginal communities, as they unfortunately also do in other sectors of Australian society. This is similar to when conservative politicians here in the U.S., point to drug and alcohol abuse, in Native American, Black and Brown communities, when they want to put more cops in an area or cut back programs or funding for those areas. So the Western Australian government is using old politicians tricks to justify what is a racist land grab policy.
Australia is a large country with vast areas that are lightly populated. Only Aboriginal towns and communities are subjected to this policy requiring them to be located within 100 kilometers of majority white, large towns or cities. This policy isn’t mean for Crocodile Dundee and his mates. This is the Australian government once again going after Aboriginal people still living on their ancestral lands in remote areas, which now are suspected of having rich mineral resources.
This ugly government policy has met with significant popular opposition. Two large rounds of demonstrations, one in April and one on May 1st, have taken place in towns and cities across Australia. Aboriginal people and Australians of all backgrounds have come out into the streets in the thousands, to show their opposition to this unjust policy. This government decree violates International Law and the Human Rights of Aboriginal people. At this juncture, the government is pushing ahead with this policy. But more demonstrations are being planned and it is expected even more people will come out to show their opposition to this racist, colonialist assault on Aboriginal communities and their land.
For more information you can go to: http://www.sosblakaustralia.com. You can also show your support at: #SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA.
This is Jaan Laaman. Until next time remember, all around the world, Freedom Is A Constant Struggle!
Updated by NYC Anarchist Black Cross – May 2015
This is our guide to political prisoners and prisoners of war we support. Feel free to download, print, and distribute as you see fit. The .pdf file has been optimized to print in booklet layout through Acrobat.