Statement to the 11th International Symposium (Meeting in Amsterdam, January 2014)
From Jaan Laaman, anti-imperialist political prisoner, held by the USA state
I greet and salute all of you attending this 11th International Symposium in Amsterdam. I also salute and send my solidarity to your organizations and especially to the political prisoners held in your countries.
The struggle for Freedom, Justice, National Liberation, Revolutionary transformation, Human Rights and the defense and survival of our planet, has and will continue to create political prisoners. As long as we fight for the freedom and liberation our people and our planet so truly need, some of us will end up in the prisons of the imperialist and other repressive states that subjugate our people and destroy our resources.
As in many other oppressive states, here in the USA, the headquarters of western imperialism, we have freedom fighters, activists and revolutionaries who have been in captivity, as political prisoners, for well over 30 years. People like Sundiata Acoli, Leonard Peltier, Mumia abu Jamal, Oscar López, Tom Manning and many others have been held for decades. Just this past year, a group of young anti-racist activists, The Tinley Park 5, were imprisoned for their political work. The USA state continues its repressive assaults within the United States, even as it spreads its imperialist wars and attacks across the globe.
Political prisoners in the U.S. likewise continue to resist and connect to the freedom struggle worldwide. A major voice of U.S. political prisoners is http://www.4strugglemag.org. 2014 is the tenth year that 4strugglemag has been in existence, putting out three issues most years. 4struggle is primarily an e-magazine, but we also produce a professionally printed hard copy that goes out to prisoners and other subscribers. 4struggle comes from the hearts and minds of U.S. political prisoners and friends. While it focuses on the analyses, opinions and struggles of U.S. political prisoners, we cover revolutionary issues worldwide. Just this past year, 4strugglemag expanded its format and now an entire section is news and information produced by the Jericho Movement. The Jericho Movement is the principle U.S. organization that fights for the rights and freedom of political prisoners held by the USA state.
4struggle welcomes information about, and words from, our fellow political prisoners in other countries and regions. Check out 4strugglemag—issue 23 is out now. You are welcome to send us information about the issues and realities of political prisoners in your country. International solidarity is a strong and important force.
I wish much immediate success to all of you and the work of this Symposium. I also hope we continue our contacts, solidarity and joint efforts for the survival and freedom of revolutionary political prisoners worldwide.
There are about 100 political prisoners in various prisons across the United States. These women and men are listed and recognized as political prisoners by numerous human rights, legal defense and progressive/socialist organizations. These people all come from the Civil Rights/Black Power/New African Liberation struggles, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, Indigenous Peoples survival struggles, Chicano/Mexicano Movements, anti-imperialist/anti-war movements, anti-racist/anti-fascist struggles, the Women’s Movement, social and economic justice struggles, and especially in the past several years, from the Environmental/Animal Rights movement. They are Black, white, Latino and Native American. Most of these political prisoners have been in captivity since the 1970s and 80s. Some were convicted on totally fabricated charges, others for nebulous political conspiracies or for acts of resistance. All received huge sentences for their political beliefs or actions in support of these beliefs.
Additionally, there are many thousands of revolutionary-minded, politically conscious prisoners in U.S. jails. These are people who became more politically aware and active once they landed in prison. A lot of these prisoners also get singled out for extra harsh and restrictive treatment like the political prisoners. Since 9/11, the U.S. has also imprisoned thousands of Arab and Muslim visitors to this country, as well as some Islamic citizens and residents.
The U.S. government likes to deny that it holds political prisoners. The harsh punitive conditions of confinement, often in special “control unit type” prisons, that political prisoners face day-in, day-out, decade after decade, exposes and refutes this government myth. Not only does America hold political prisoners, but they are being held under longer sentences than any kind of prisoners, anywhere in the world! Despite this, these women and men remain committed to their communities, movements and principles. As best they can, through their voices and very lives, they continue to uphold the politics of justice, equality and liberation, especially for the poor and working-class people throughout the world. Political prisoners in the United States want and need your awareness and support.
The following organizations do support work for political prisoners in the U.S.:
The Jericho Movement
P.O. Box 650
New York, NY 10009
Partisan Defense Committee
P.O. Box 99, Canal Street Station
New York, NY 10013
Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) Federation
P.O. Box 11223
Whittier, CA 80603