Reports on December 3, 2005
December 3, 2005 marked the first International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War. Events to raise awareness of our imprisoned comrades were held in over 25 countries, including Palestine, the Philippines, Haiti, Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, England, India, Turkey, Mexico, Croatia, Canada, Spain and the United States. Below are some programs and reports of the diverse activities that took place in the U.S. (excerpts).
There are over one hundred political prisoners incarcerated in the U.S. and tens of thousands imprisoned around the world. The U.S. government is using the Patriot Act and the “War on Terror” to imprison more people every day at an alarming rate. The force-feeding of hunger strikers in Guantanamo and the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib are only two of the grave human rights abuses taking place around the world under the authority of the U.S. government.
In response to escalating human rights violations, activists from around the world have decided to initiate an International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners. Donato Continente, a recently released political prisoner from the Philippines explained: “It’s time we took a united and international approach to the freeing of political activists and freedom fighters – it’s essential that we share our experiences and that we mount international campaigns.”
San Francisco – “Political Convictions: Liberating Political Prisoners” film festival
When asked why she was participating, Ms. Cleaver said: “It’s essential to work for the freedom of those still imprisoned because of their contributions to the human rights struggle within the U.S. particularly in these days of intensified government surveillance of and restrictions against dissent….”
Puerto Rican Independentista Alicia Rodriguez, who was pardoned by President Clinton after 19 years in prison, joined Ms. Cleaver. “The U.S. government just assassinated our freedom fighter Filiberto Ojeda Rios because they want us to believe that resistance is futile. Nothing could be further from the truth. We know from our experience that we must continue our fight to get all of our prisoners out -they must know that they are not alone.”
Houston: A Slave Has a Moral Obligation to Escape
by Yerba (More photos)
Citing what he called the “irrelevance” of his own experiences while being incarcerated in solitary confinement for over 30 years on false charges, King’s talk dealt primarily with his assertion that we are all–both the ruling classes and those under their thumbs–in his mind, “political prisoners” of a sort.
“If somebody dehumanizes you,” he said, “they have to dehumanize themselves, first.”
Filmmaker Jimmy O’Halligan showed a preview of his upcoming documentary Three Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation, and Angola 3 activist Scott Crow was also on hand for the event which was organized by Houston Anarchist Black Cross.
For more information on the Angola Three, check www.angola3.org/
To buy some of King’s tasty Freelines go to www.kingsfreelines.com/
and to learn more about O’Halligan’s film check www.3blackpanthers.com/
Boston – PRESENTE! – opening cultural performance
– Mumia Abu-Jamal, death row political prisoner
– Kazi Toure, former political prisoner
– Sergio Reyes, former political prisoner held by the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile
– Marilyn Buck, anti-imperialist political prisoner
– Speakers from Palestine
– Saja Raouf, Iraqi attorney
– The Foundation, radical hip hop
– Dennis Brutus, former political prisoner held by the apartheid regime in South Africa
– martial arts demonstrations
– Netdahe Stoddard son of Richard Williams
– Lynne Stewart, peoples’ lawyer
P.O. Box 301057
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
New York: International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners
Speakers: Ninotchka Rosca (Philippines, Gabriela network); Andra (Basque Country, Kalera Project); Ashanti Alston (Black Liberation Movement, U.S.), Frank Velgara (Puerto Rican Independence Movement, U.S. and Puerto Rico); plus a Palestinian comrade and statements from David Gilbert and Marilyn Buck, white anti-imperialist political prisoners.
Sponsored by Columbia Univ. SIPA Human Rights program, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Jericho (national and NYC); Hands Off Assata Coalition, NY Taskforce on Political Prisoners; Gabriela Network, ProLibertad Freedom Campaign; Resistance in Brooklyn; Women’s Anti-Imperialist League; NYC Mumia Colition; Latin@s for Mumia.
Fairhaven College, Western Washington University: Beyond Bars: A Conference on the Politics of the Prison Industrial Complex
On Saturday, December 3rd, close to two hundred people came to Fairhaven College to attend “Beyond Bars,” a conference exploring the politics of the prison industrial complex. For an event in Bellingham, and particularly for an event on a college campus, the event was by all means a success: the attendance was fantastic, plenty of networking occurred amongst those already devoted to work around the prison industrial complex, and more permanent projects in Bellingham, including a branch of Books to Prisoners, will likely emerge in the future.
In commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity, the next session of conference was devoted to a panel featuring former political prisoners and political prisoner support activists. It began with a poem by Massada Grenella, which was followed by recorded audio statements by long-time political prisoners Mumia Abu Jamal and Marilyn Buck. Then followed a series of questions and answers with the panel. Included on the panel were Mark Cook, who spent 24 years in prison for alleged involvement in the George Jackson Brigade, an underground group in the Pacific Northwest; and Amin Odeh, a Palestinian who spent time in Israeli prisons during the first intifada. Cook and Odeh represented both domestic and international perspectives on political prisoners, and each stressed the centrality of United States policy to their experiences. Political prisoner supporters on the panel included Harjap Grewal of No On Is Illegal in Vancouver, British Columbia, who linked the issue of political prisoners to larger issues of immigration and state control; Danielle Ni Dhighe, who stressed the importance of international solidarity in supporting prisoners; and Christina McLean, who related the topic to her experiences as a friend of eco-prisoner Chris McIntosh.