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Help former political prisoner Barbara Curzi deal with cancer!

November 3, 2016

Dear Friends,

Carol Saucier, Ray Luc Levasseur and I write today to ask that you help our dear sister and former co-defendant, Barbara Curzi. Barbara is a former political prisoner, one of the Ohio 7, who, after their arrests in Ohio in 1984, went on trial for actions by the United Freedom Front against corporations who upheld apartheid in South Africa and contributed to the wars in Central America. (Please donate).

Unfortunately, Barbara was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. She is beginning an intensive six-month chemo regimen and then is expected to undergo surgery, possibly followed by radiation. Barbara lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts with her cats and dog and hopes she can keep her home while she fights this terrible disease. Barbara hasn’t been well for a while most especially since she lost her beloved son, Ricky (whose father is political prisoner, Jaan Laaman) five years ago. The more health problems she had, the more she has struggled financially to keep a roof over her head and is now dangerously close to losing that. img_4638

She was about to get a part-time job just before her diagnosis,to supplement her disability check but now instead finds herself way behind not only on her mortgage and utilities, but can’t get Internet and phones services back until she pays them off completely. Fortunately, the amount to keep her in her home and get her back to functioning, is not so insurmountable that we can’t raise enough to at least take those worries away from her. Once caught up, Barbara would still need some support to keep up with her monthly expenses, while waging this battle. Her struggle will be compounded by additional expenses related to trying to get better, including travel and integrative treatments, among other things. Suffice to say that she is in dire straits and those of us who love and respect her, want to reach out to others who can chip in whatever they can to help alleviate her burdens.

Barbara served 7 years of a 15 year sentence she received after conviction in Brooklyn, New York for Conspiracy. She returned to Massachusetts after her release from the federal prison system to rebuild her life with her children. As many former prisoners, and especially political prisoners, Barbara has struggled to find work and survive, but she is still deeply committed to the struggle for justice.

If you would like to contribute to the effort to minimize the stress for Barbara, and help her make it through this battle, please see the linked “Go Fund Me” page at:

Barbara’s daughters, Lucia and Nina Colombaro, have set up a “Lotsa Helping Hands” page to help organize care and comfort for Barbara, so if you think you can help with practical matters or would like to follow Barbara‘s progress, please see:

Donations received will go directly to Barbara to help alleviate her troubles. Please spread the word by sharing this email and contribute whatever you can. Thank you.

Pat (Rowbottom, formerly Levasseur)
Carol (Saucier, formerly Manning)
Ray Luc Levasseur

Support Bo Brown!

October 6, 2016

Long time revolutionary , and former Political Prisoner, Bo Brown‘s health
is declining.

Bo was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a disease that is not as well
known as but very similar to Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s however it is very
likely that this will soon lead to Parkinson’s. Some of the unfortunate
features of Bo‘s medical condition are falling due to a lack of awareness,
fainting, and then there’s the seizures. Bo has had eight seizures since
January of this year. Also, Bo has made it very clear that she’d like to
live at home for as long as possible. The current shower at her house is a
bath tub, shower combination, and the tub has a high wall, so the need for
a new shower to suit Bo‘s needs is now an urgent issue.
With the unfortunate news of Bo Brown‘s diagnosis and all that comes with
it, there are plenty of individuals doing what we can to support Bo
through these tough times. There are medical expenses that the funds here
will be directed to as well as the very specific shower that is more
conducive then her current one to her condition.

It is so important that we support our comrades through the tough times.

Bo Brown has worked tirelessly against racism, sexism, homophobia,
transphobia, and has brought awareness and attention through all means to
the plight of the prisoner. She hasn’t forgotten about the Political
Prisoners either and we definitely should not forget about the current
Political Prisoners or the former. Prison is a tough road to travel , and
then there’s the weeks , months and even decades that pass in the post
prison period, but the prison experience doesn’t ever leave. From growing
up in Klamath Falls to the federal prison time in Alderson , WV to the
current struggles that she now faces in Oakland CA where she resides, Bo
has been fighting all her life.

Help us show Bo the kind of support that she deserves. Let’s raise this
$10,000 for her!

Thank you so much! We’re going to need all the help we can get!

Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Workstoppage for September 9, 2016

September 6, 2016

Prisoners from across the United States have just released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner workstoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016.

This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America

In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.

On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.

In the 1970s the US prison system was crumbling. In Walpole, San Quentin, Soledad, Angola and many other prisons, people were standing up, fighting and taking ownership of their lives and bodies back from the plantation prisons. For the last six years we have remembered and renewed that struggle. In the interim, the prisoner population has ballooned and technologies of control and confinement have developed into the most sophisticated and repressive in world history. The prisons have become more dependent on slavery and torture to maintain their stability.

Prisoners are forced to work for little or no pay. That is slavery. The 13th amendment to the US constitution maintains a legal exception for continued slavery in US prisons. It states “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” Overseers watch over our every move, and if we do not perform our appointed tasks to their liking, we are punished. They may have replaced the whip with pepper spray, but many of the other torments remain: isolation, restraint positions, stripping off our clothes and investigating our bodies as though we are animals.

Slavery is alive and well in the prison system, but by the end of this year, it won’t be anymore. This is a call to end slavery in America. This call goes directly to the slaves themselves. We are not making demands or requests of our captors, we are calling ourselves to action. To every prisoner in every state and federal institution across this land, we call on you to stop being a slave, to let the crops rot in the plantation fields, to go on strike and cease reproducing the institutions of your confinement.

This is a call for a nation-wide prisoner work stoppage to end prison slavery, starting on September 9th, 2016. They cannot run these facilities without us.

Non-violent protests, work stoppages, hunger strikes and other refusals to participate in prison routines and needs have increased in recent years. The 2010 Georgia prison strike, the massive rolling California hunger strikes, the Free Alabama Movement’s 2014 work stoppage, have gathered the most attention, but they are far from the only demonstrations of prisoner power. Large, sometimes effective hunger strikes have broken out at Ohio State Penitentiary, at Menard Correctional in Illinois, at Red Onion in Virginia as well as many other prisons. The burgeoning resistance movement is diverse and interconnected, including immigrant detention centers, women’s prisons and juvenile facilities. Last fall, women prisoners at Yuba County Jail in California joined a hunger strike initiated by women held in immigrant detention centers in California, Colorado and Texas.

Prisoners all across the country regularly engage in myriad demonstrations of power on the inside. They have most often done so with convict solidarity, building coalitions across race lines and gang lines to confront the common oppressor.

Forty-five years after Attica, the waves of change are returning to America’s prisons. This September we hope to coordinate and generalize these protests, to build them into a single tidal shift that the American prison system cannot ignore or withstand. We hope to end prison slavery by making it impossible, by refusing to be slaves any longer.

To achieve this goal, we need support from people on the outside. A prison is an easy-lockdown environment, a place of control and confinement where repression is built into every stone wall and chain link, every gesture and routine. When we stand up to these authorities, they come down on us, and the only protection we have is solidarity from the outside. Mass incarceration, whether in private or state-run facilities is a scheme where slave catchers patrol our neighborhoods and monitor our lives. It requires mass criminalization. Our tribulations on the inside are a tool used to control our families and communities on the outside. Certain Americans live every day under not only the threat of extra-judicial execution—as protests surrounding the deaths of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and so many others have drawn long overdue attention to—but also under the threat of capture, of being thrown into these plantations, shackled and forced to work.

Our protest against prison slavery is a protest against the school to prison pipeline, a protest against police terror, a protest against post-release controls. When we abolish slavery, they’ll lose much of their incentive to lock up our children, they’ll stop building traps to pull back those who they’ve released. When we remove the economic motive and grease of our forced labor from the US prison system, the entire structure of courts and police, of control and slave-catching must shift to accommodate us as humans, rather than slaves.

Prison impacts everyone, when we stand up and refuse on September 9th, 2016, we need to know our friends, families and allies on the outside will have our backs. This spring and summer will be seasons of organizing, of spreading the word, building the networks of solidarity and showing that we’re serious and what we’re capable of.

Step up, stand up, and join us.
Against prison slavery.
For liberation of all.

Find more information, updates and organizing materials and opportunities at the following websites:

Prisoners’ voices blocked and censorship in U.S. prisons

June 15, 2016

By Jaan Laaman

 The United States is often called the country of prisons because we are five percent of the world’s population, but the U.S. holds 25 percent of all the prisoners in the world. Recently we have heard talk from the White House and Congress about the need to reduce this huge prison population, which is costing the taxpayers billions.
            Occasionally you might hear a prisoner’s voice on some media platform, usually a Human Rights or community outlet. These present words are written by Jaan Laaman. I am a long held political prisoner presently locked up in the U.S. Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona. Let me be very clear, prisoners have a hard time getting our words and thoughts out from behind America’s many, many prison walls. While prisoners do have a legal right to express their thoughts and report on issues and abuses, actually getting your words out is often very hard or impossible.
            All incoming and outgoing prisoner communication, postal mail, phone calls and some restricted email services that some prison systems allow, are all opened and monitored. This is authorized by regulations and law. Further censorship and outright blocking of communications and publications, also routinely occurs in prisons throughout this country.
            Letters, magazines and books critical of government policies and wars are often not delivered, even if official policy states that prisoners are allowed these materials. Sometimes a prisoner has all his or her phone or email communications arbitrarily shut off for months. While an official appeal channel is usually available, these are biased at best and could easily be labelled a kangaroo court process. Communications would be shut down for months, even if the prisoner ultimately wins appeal and has his or her communications restored.
            Censoring, restricting and flat out blocking communications, especially of political prisoners, is a harsh and dangerous reality going on now, in prisons all across this country. My own voice, which has previously been heard on radio and in print over many years, has been almost totally cut off since February. No official explanation has been given, other than, that prison authorities do not like my commentaries and essays. Freedom of speech—Freedom of expression, for America’s prisoners is a constant struggle!
            These words are from Jaan Laaman and I hope I can, once again, speak more directly to you in the future.
Jaan Laaman (10372-016)
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734 USA

Free Herman Bell

February 13, 2016



More than 2.4 million human beings are imprisoned in the US.


This massive incarceration-overwhelmingly aimed at people of color and criminalizing youth makes the US by far the greatest purveyor of punishment in the world.


Among these millions are a number of political prisoners, and among these courageous sisters and brothers is Herman Bell. Herman Bell has been a political prisoner in the US for nearly 40 years. When national liberation and revolution rocked the world in the 1960s and 70s, Herman was active in the social justice movements of those times, particularly the Black Liberation movement and the Black Panther Party.

Support Herman’s parole here:

Statement from Marius Mason for the Trans Prisoner Day of Action and Solidarity

January 22, 2016

January 22nd 2016

Happy New Year, Family and Friends!  Many, many thanks for so much support
and care over this year from both long-standing friends and new pen pals.
I feel very grateful and am always humbled by the encouragement and
resources sent my way by folks who are doing so much already to increase
our collective chances for survival. The news has been full of stories
about someone winning the big money pool that has accumulated for the US
Lotto – but the most important “win” has nothing to do with money. I am
betting on the movement to win big this year: in getting more control over
their communities and defending against police brutality and racial
inequality, in winning more victories for animal and in the defense of
wild spaces, in creating social relations based on respect, dignity and
compassion for all people….irregardless of their race, orientation,
creed or gender presentation.

Thank you for coming together today, to hold up those members of our
community who struggle so hard behind walls to keep their sense of self
intact. Sovereignty over our selves, our bodies is essential for any other
kind of liberty to be possible. By reaching out to trans prisoners, you
affirm their right to define themselves for themselves – and defend them
against the overwhelming voices who claim that they do not exist, that
they must allow others to define them. In the isolating environment of
prison, this is toxic and intimidating, and amounts to the cruelest form
of psychological torture. By offering your help and solidarity, you may
just save a life. I know that for thelast year and a half, as I have
struggled to assert myself as a transman, as I have advocated for the
relief of appropriate medical care for my gender dysphoria – it has been
the gentle and loving reminders of my extended family of supporters who
have given me strength and courage to continue. Please join me in offering
this help to so many others who need it to keep going. Never underestimate
the healing power of a letter, those letters have kept me going…and I
want to pass that gift on, if you will help me.

Thank you again for coming together on this day, for connecting to those
on the inside who truly need you, who need you to see them as they really
are and striving to be. Until the prisons are gone, we need to work hard
to support those of us inside – especially those of us who are not always
as visible to the rest of the world. We are always stronger together.

Marius Mason
January 2016

Syria — ISIS: some anti-imperialist observations and analysis

December 20, 2015
With the mid-November ISIS claimed terrorist attacks in Paris, and even more since the California shootings, there has been a constant stream of reports, official government statements and politicians remarks, about ISIS and the civil war in Syria.  There have also been reports of French, U.S., Russian and Syrian government air bombing raids on ISIS targets in Syria.  In the U.S. corporate news media, many of these reports and most of the analysis have been driven and limited by ideology and are often incorrect.  This weak and misinformation is created to fit the U.S. government line on what is going on in Syria and with ISIS.  The fact is ISIS, Al Qaeda and other jihadist forces have mostly maintained, and in some areas even strengthened, their presence in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Why is the U.S. government and its major allies, seemingly unable to contain and limit these jihadist groups and their increasing attacks on people outside the Middle East?  From where, and how did these jihadist groups first spring up?  It is important to trace some of this history, in order to more clearly see what might be more effective in stopping these jihadist attacks and terrorism.  And to be clear, by terrorism, I am using the actual definition of the term, that is, the indiscriminate use of violence against civilians in order to pressure the government and ruling powers.

Allow me to go back and lets begin with Al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden pulled Al Qaeda together in the 1980’s in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight the then Soviet Union supported secular and progressive government of President Najibulah in Afghanistan.  At that time, the USA government, completely caught up in cold war anti-Soviet Union ideology, created the most expensive CIA operation in history.  The U.S. government supplied huge amounts of weapons and money to Al Qaeda and other jihadi and warlord groups fighting the progressive Afghan government.  Readers might remember or could easily find, rather famous photos of Ronald Reagan meeting with some of bin Laden’s top lieutenants at the White House.  At that time President Reagan called these jihadists “freedom fighters”, not terrorists, even though they were killing people in Afghanistan in the same manner as people were killed in Paris and San Bernadino recently.

Once the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Al Qaeda turned its sights on the United States.  A year after the 9/11 attacks, then President George Bush, pushed and dragged the U.S. into invading and occupying Iraq.

The lies and fabrications Bush and his government used to justify the war against Iraq are now well known.  There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  There also, was no Al Qaeda in Iraq, under the secular and nationalist Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein.  There were no bombs going off in Iraq, nobody was getting their head cut off, there was no warfare between various Iraqi communities and cities.  In fact Iraq had a middle class level of lifestyle.  Women went to school and work, were doctors, professionals and served in government positions.  Iraq had a lot of oil and sold it on the world market.  President Saddam Hussein’s government was sometimes labeled authoritarian and maybe rightly so.  But there were no active or known terrorist groups in Iraq until the United States invaded that country, overthrew its legitimate government and imposed a 10 plus year occupation.

During the years long U.S. military occupation of Iraq, Al Qaeda in Iraq came into existence, expanded and later part of it morphed into ISIS.  During this same period, other Sunni jihadi groups sprang up, along  with some large and well armed Shiite militias.  When the U.S. finally withdrew its army from Iraq, these armed jihadi groups, territorial and religiously based militias and terrorist organizations took increasing control of parts of Iraq.

In 2011, the U.S.,NATO, Qatar and other oil kingdoms launched an air war against Libya and its long standing official government led by Muammar Qaddafi.  Under the pretext of protecting Libyan people, these countries bombed and attacked the secular nationalist state of Libya.  The country of Libya, like Iraq, was also rich in oil and gas.  Libya readily sold its oil and gas, at market prices, to all buyers.  Qaddafi made sure the Libyan people shared in the countries wealth.  Libya had the highest Human Development Index ranking in all of Africa.  Libya was also a firm and long time supporter of national liberation and freedom struggles, from Ireland to Palestine, South Africa and more.  Like Saddam Hussein and Iraq, Qaddafi and Libya were long on the enemies list of U.S. imperialism.

Since the death of Qaddafi and the overthrow of his government, Libya has not had a functioning national government.  There is ongoing war and conflict and jihadist forces, including Al Qaeda and ISIS have established themselves in parts of Libya.  They have carried out terrorist attacks against Egyptians working in Libya, as well as against many Libyans.  Four years after the U.S. led war overthrew the Qaddafi government, Libya is basically a failed state.  There is no central government, competing forces control sections of Libya and ISIS and Al Qaeda are openly active.

After the U.S. led effort that overthrew the government of Libya, the U.S. turned its sights on SyriaSyria, like pre-invasion Iraq and Libya, is an independent secular nationalist state.  Syria had long had a well functioning government and civil society.  Syria is composed of many religious and ethnic communities.  The largest group is Sunni Muslims.  There are also large minorities of Alewite (Shiite related) Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Kurds and Armenians.  Syria, for years, has also been the home of a large number of displaced Palestinians who have had to flee Israeli wars and occupations.  While Syria has been close to various upheavals, like the U.S. invasion of Iraq, several Israeli wars, civil war in Lebanon, etc. through out this time it has remained a functioning state, with law, commerce and relative stability.

Many decades ago, the previous president, Hafez al- Assad, was faced with a jihadist type Sunni uprising in the city of Hama.  The Syrian army and security agencies forcefully put down this rebellion.  For the past 40 years Syria has been a country where people of all religions and ethnic groups co-existed.  Nobody was getting their heads cut off, no churches or mosques were being bombed.  Damascus and other cities were thriving centers of business.  Women were not restricted in education, business or employment.  As already mentioned, Syria hosted large communities of Palestinian refugees.  Elections are routinely held and Bashir al-Assad, an Alewite Muslim, is the elected president.

The Syrian government has always been very strict about not allowing sectarian or religious violence.  The U.S. has often labeled the Assad government as authoritarian.  There also are some exile  Syrian groups who are critical of the Assad government.  But up until about 4 years ago, Syria was a functioning successful multi-religious and multi-ethnic country.

As an anti-imperialist and a life long revolutionary activist, I totally recognize the right of all oppressed and exploited people to speak out and struggle for justice.  This includes the right, and when necessary the need to demand and fight of change against the government and system.  Ultimately all people have the right to change and overthrow a system that oppresses and exploits them.

There is a big difference between a people’s  right to a freedom struggle against what they see as their oppressive government, and foreign powers and imperialist states interfering in the internal affairs and struggles within a sovereign country.  The U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc., have no legal or moral right to demand the overthrow and removal of President Assad and the Syrian government.  Nor do they have any moral or legal right to arm, train, pay for and advocate the overthrow of the legally constituted government of Syria.  This is just naked aggression and imperialist domination of a small independent nation by the major imperialist power in the world — USA imperialism.

During the past 5 decades, the secular nationalist government of Syria, like Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, has been viewed as an obstacle and enemy, by the U.S. government, for its policies in the Middle East.  Syria has been a steadfast opponent of Israeli expansionism and a firm supporter of the Palestinian people.  It has refused to sell out the Palestinian people and their struggle for nationhood, or to accept dictates from  the U.S. government.  Syria has long had friendly relations with Russia and previously with the Soviet union.  All this has permanently placed the Syrian government in the crosshairs of the U.S. government.

In 2011 street protests flared up in the Middle East.  Within weeks, two U.S. allied governments, Mubarak in Egypt and the government in Tunisia, were overthrown by huge rallies of people.  Some months later there were demonstrations in Syria too.  They weren’t huge or nationwide, but many people did protest.  Some of these demonstrations were met with police repression.  Very soon after the police crackdown, well armed attacks sprang up in some Sunni areas.  It has been documented that millions in money, arms and even training, was going to these rebel forces in Syria.  Most of this aid, especially from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, went to extremist jihadi forces, especially Al Nusra and ISIS.  Turkey kept an open border for foreign fighters to travel into Syria.  This is how the Syrian civil war developed and even today continues to exist.

There was no ISIS in Syria until U.S. and western European imperialism, Saudi and other Persian Gulf oil kingdoms and Turkey began supporting and supplying these jihadi forces that have now seized territory in Syria.  In the past year the U.S. and some other countries have begun bombing ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.  Damage has certainly been done, but ISIS and Al Nusra remain in place.  Kurdish forces and in some sectors Syrian government forces have successfully pushed ISIS out of a few areas and contained them in other locations.

Some months ago Russia joined this fight against ISIS and other jihadists in Syria.  Russia announced and advanced its plan to support and join with the Syrian government and its armed forces, against the jihadist and anti-government rebels.  By all accounts, the major rebel forces are all jihadist — ISIS and Al Nusra being the largest organizations.  The Russian strategy understands that aerial bombing alone, will not defeat the anti-government forces.  There have to be land forces to fight, take ground and hold areas.

From an anti-imperialist perspective, we can see that Russia’s direct support of the Syrian government, is not only international solidarity, but Russia is acting in its own material interests.  The fall of the Syrian government would mean the loss of Russia’s main long time Arab ally.  Further, the spread of ISIS activities would put Russia’s internal security at greater risk.  The Russian strategy to support and add to the military strength of the Syrian government and its armed forces, is a realistic strategy that can defeat ISIS and the other jihadi groups.

Even now, as ISIS expands terrorist attacks beyond Syria and Iraq, the U.S. government is still calling for the removal of the Syrian president and his government.  Imagine how many more people would be dead if the Syrian government had fallen four years ago, when the U.S. first began demanding and working for the overthrow of President Assad?  Imagine what all of Syria would look like today if there was no Syrian government?  Syria would look like Libya, but even worse because there would be a lot more dead Kurds, Christians, Alewites, Armenians, Palestinians, Yazidis.

The United States has no legal or moral right to demand the overthrow of the Syrian government or president.  The U.S. has even less right to fund, arm and train Syrian or mercenary forces to try to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government.  The U.S. has no right to invade or occupy Syria and we, the American people, have to be extremely clear that we do not want the U.S. government to invade Syria, to send any U.S. troops into Syria.  Actually even the U.S. aerial bombing of ISIS targets in Syria is illegal by international law.  The U.S. should work with, coordinate with, the Syrian government if they are interested in having U.S. aid, in any bombing raids it conducts within that country.

Syria is a sovereign nation.  Whether the U.S. government likes its president or not, violating the sovereignty of a country, whether sending warplanes on bombing raids or landing an invading army, is a violation of international law, is an act of war.

The government of the United States has consciously and/or unwittingly helped create the conditions for the rise of organizations that today are called armed jihadi terrorists.  Specifically the U.S. government and its wars and invasions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now in Syria, have led to Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Superpowers and empires, throughout history, believe they can manipulate and control events and even countries.  Sometimes they create or facilitate the rise of forces that they lose control over or that turn against them.  In recent history, in the 21st century, a clear case can be made that the political managers of the U.S. state/empire (elected and appointed government leaders) have made many mistakes and created wars and other situations that they lost control of, or that led to results that have been harmful to U.S. government and corporate interests, let alone to the American people.  And of course, it is always the U.S. public who pays for the wars, in money and blood, even though the people have very little input and control over what the government does in our name.  It is important that we the American people, become more familiar with the real facts and realities in Syria and the Middle East.

(Readers interested in a more detailed elaboration on the declining ability of U.S. imperialism, should check out my essay “Decline of Empire?“, in issue 23).