Friday, December 23, 2005

Solidarity Statement of Jericho Movement for Recognition and Amnesty for U.S. Held Political Prisoners

The following solidarity statement from the Jericho Movement popped in my Inbox a couple of days ago, and i thought it was worth posting here:


Solidarity Statement of Jericho Movement for Recognition and Amnesty for U.S. Held Political Prisoners
Efia Nwangaza, National Co-Chair
4th International Symposium Against Isolation,
Paris, France, December 16-19, 2005

My name is Efia Nwangaza, I, along with Herman Ferguson, a former political prisoner and exile, chair the Jericho amnesty movement for recognition and freedom of U.S. held political prisoners, prisoners of war, and exiles. I have been a revolutionary and human rights advocate for more than 45 years; first as a young Christian missionary, then as a student organizer with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the southern U.S. civil rights movement, later with Amnesty International (AI-USA) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement for Self-Determination, and now as a practicing attorney. The Jericho Movement, founded in 1998, is the official national political prisoner organized voice and representative of U.S. political prisoners, prisoners of war, and exiles.
  We thank the organizers of the Fourth International Symposium Against Isolation for their invitation and this opportunity to tell the world about the more than one hundred political prisoners held in U.S. prisons since the 1970s.  The United States has held these prisoners longer than the 27 years that apartheid South Africa held Nelson Mandela, for the very same reasons South Africa held Mandela.  The U.S. government has held some of our political prisoners up to 35 and 40 years, Marshall Eddie Conway and Ruchell Magee, respectively.  
  Most U.S. political prisoners, prisoners of war, and exiles are the survivors of  the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) unlawful counter-intelligence  program (COINTELPRO);  today’s “war on terrorism,” excused and codified in the repressive so-called “USA Patriot Act.”   COINTELPRO, like its predecessors, was designed to contain, control, criminalize and crush activists in the U.S. civil and human rights/liberation struggles of Africans born in the United States (Blacks, African Americans), Latinos, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, anti-imperialists and Native Americans.  
  However, these stalwarts of the 60s and 70s not only fought for freedom at home and provided support for the masses of people; but, in solidarity with the peoples of the world, they said “Hell No!” to the U.S. war on Vietnam - the Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Haiti wars and occupations of their day.  We bring their greetings and the greetings of the U.S. celebrants of the December 3rd, 2005 International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War; called for by former Philippine political prisoner, Donato Continente, to promote a united worldwide amnesty approach.  We hope a single world day of solidarity can soon be broadly agreed upon and universally celebrated.
  In 2003, the American Friends Service Committee’s Criminal Justice Programs’ Prison Watch Project’s briefing paper entitled, “The Prison Inside the Prison: Control Units, Supermax Prisons, and Devices of Torture,” noted that the first U.S. uses of isolation and sensory deprivation were in the 1960s.   It was a behavior modification technique against prisoners involved in the prisoner’s rights movement, a byproduct of the 1960s U.S. civil and human rights movement.  The prisoners were “Islamic militants, jailhouse lawyers, ‘ethnic gangs,’ and political activists.”  
  In the 1970s the struggle for human rights intensified, both on the streets and inside the prisons.  COINTELPRO, the FBI’s unlawful attack on U.S. civil/human rights and independence movements, sent Black Panthers, Black Liberation Army, American Indian Movement, Puerto Rican Independentistas, and North American anti-imperialists into open hostilities with the U.S. government and into the underground.  The rise and arrest of Black Party members and other such formations increased the politicization and agitation by prisoners.  The brilliant and charismatic revolutionary prison educator and organizer, George Jackson, was murdered in a California Control Unit (Adjustment Center) following an unsuccessful heroic attempt to liberate him by his younger brother, Jonathan Jackson.  Men of all races rebelled against inhumane treatment at New York’s Attica State Prison and were slaughtered with helicopter gunfire and swat teams.  In 1978, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, acknowledged the existence of U.S. political prisoners at the UN.
  The United States is the world’s first country to operate entire prisons on a permanent isolation and lock down scheme.  It has been cited by the UN Human Rights Commission for violations of the Convention Against Torture and the UN Standard Minimums for the Treatment of Prisoners; long before Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
  In 1972, at the Marion (Illinois) Federal Penitentiary, the U.S. government established one of its first control units.  It was followed by others in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts.  By 1985, there were about six, forty-five by 1997, and now, in every state of the United States of America, there are 2 or more sensory deprivation and isolation prisons or sections of prisons.
  In 1988, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons was court ordered to remove Silvia Baraldini, Susan Rosenberg, and Alejandrina Torres from a subterranean sensory deprivation isolation unit in the basement of the Lexington (Kentucky) Federal Prison; see the documentary, “Through the Wire.”  The court acknowledged that their internment was political.  Their case highlighted routine sexual abuse and medical neglect in U.S. prisons as well as the onset of isolation and sensory deprivation on women.
  According to Human Rights Watch, by 2002 more than 20,000 prisoners, over 2% of the United States’ 2.2 million prison population, are held in long term isolation; political and non-political, adults and children alike.  Twenty-three hours a day, with one shower per week, they are held in sound proof or white noise cells about the size of a parking space for a car.  With privatization, for-profit prisons, a person may NEVER leave her/his cell, everything, including delivery of meals, is controlled by a single guard in a central booth flipping switches.  The only human contact the internee may have is removal or return to the cage if s/he fails to comply with orders.  
        Today, despite the known psychological and physical destruction caused by extended isolation and sensory deprivation, political exile Assata Shakur’s co-defendant, Sundiata Acoli, a mathematician, painter, and former Black Panther has been held by the State of New Jersey, and jailhouse lawyer and prisoner of conscience, Ruchell Magee, by the State of California, in isolation and sensory deprivation for 30 years.  Former Black Panther Russell Shoatz, repeatedly denied proper and timely medical care, is 20 years in the State of Pennsylvania’s supermax prison, along with famed journalist Mumia Abu Jamal on its death row.  
  While these men have survived due to strong personal commitment and outside support, the mentally ill, retarded, learning disabled and illiterate who largely populate U.S. prisons, and often put in isolation for punishment, have not fared so well.  They succumb to complete mental and physical break downs.
  Others, also suffering from lack of adequate community, educational or lawful employment opportunities, may be labeled a “gang” member, harassed on the streets and isolated in “security threat units” once incarcerated.  While in isolation they are subject to humiliating body cavity searches by guards of the opposite sex, forced to wear demeaning garments, physically assaulted by guards with fire hoses, bound in restraint belts, chairs or beds for long periods of time in painful positions, shocked with cattle prods now called taser guns and stun belts of 50,000 electrical volts,  sprayed in the face, eyes, mouth with pepper spray or tear gas, smothered in urine soaked pillowcases on their heads, forced baths causing 3rd degree burns over the body. People of color are more likely to receive this kind of treatment than white prisoners.
  Now, like the 1960s and 70s, George Bush’s Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, local and national law enforcement, and the Fraternal Order of Police have joined forces to set upon us and to hunt down old soldiers missed in the earlier battle; framing and sentencing to Life without possibility of parole of Imam Jamil Al-Amin (fka H. Rap Brown) and jailing Kamau Sadiki, the grand jury witch hunts and fishing expeditions that hounded Sister Janet Cyrils to her grave and recently jailed former Black Panthers Harold Taylor, Hank Jones, Richard Brown and Ray Boudreaux. Others now in the system, such as Tom Manning and Oscar Lopez Rivera, are shuttled to far off super max sensory deprivation prisons in the middle of the night. Medical neglect is used as a weapon; as in the cases of Russell Maroon Shoatz’ prostate cancer tests, Robert Seth Hayes’ diabetic black outs, and Leonard Peliter’s ongoing medical problems. Mandatory parole is denied to exemplary prisoners, such as Veronza Bowers,  Jr.. Lawyers who serve the people are criminalized, such as Lynn Stewart, Chokwe Lumumba. The $1 million bounty on the head of Assata Shakur (fka Joanne Chesmard) is designed to reduce us all to snitches.  
  Still others are being held on excessive sentences and parole denial: Jalil Muntaquin, architect of the 1998 march on Washington, African AIDS Orphans School Supply Project, and felony re-enfranchisement litigation.  Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Black Liberation Army healthcare activist pioneered the use of acupuncture in drug rehabilitation, environmentalists Debbie Sims Africa and other MOVE members who survived  Philadelphia's relentless onslaughts and its 1985 neighborhood bombing massacre. Mathematician Sundiata Acoli, women's rights activist Marilyn Buck.  We moan the martyred Richards Williams, Filiberto Ojeda Rios, Albert "Nuh" Washington, and Merle Austin Africa. We pine for the companionship of exiled Assata Shakur, Nehanda Abiodun and others. It is our shame that we have people who invested their youth and dedicated their lives to our communities, who are now growing old, dying in prison and far away from friends and families.
  The Jericho Movement demands the immediate recognition, amnesty, and release of all political prisoners and prisoners of war locked up in or exiled from the United States of America.   It is committed to gaining full political recognition, legal amnesty and social freedom for political prisoners despite the United States government’s continued denial of their existence and their proper status by criminalization.  Each political prisoner was incarcerated because of  his/her political beliefs and work to eliminate indecent housing, lack of adequate medical care and nutrition, to ensure quality education, to stop police brutality and to stop the murder of people organizing for independence and liberation.  Each is entitled to our best possible efforts to decriminalize and rehumanized them in the minds of the people and to build the movement to protect and bring them home now!
The Jericho Movement for Recognition and Freedom of U.S. Political Prisoners
FSD 10193 Greenville, SC 29603 USA
National Jericho Movement
P.O. Box 340084
Jamaica, NY 11434
(718) 949-3937

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  1. Greetings Partner,
    We need to work together to decolonize Puerto Rico and free Oscar López Rivera. Join 2 peaceful protests until it is accomplished!

    We will have a peaceful protest on Saturday, November 23rd in Puerto Rico for the liberation of our patriot and political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera. Click on the link below for more information.

    Un abrazo,

  2. Dear Partners,

    Join The First Oscar – Mandela March in Puerto Rico on Saturday, March 22, 2014, on the Abolition of Slavery Day, to peacefully protest for the decolonization of Puerto Rico and the release of our political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. It is the perfect day to protest the enslavement of Puerto Rico by the government of the United States.

    We will march from the Roosevelt Avenue Urban Train Station at 2 PM to the United States Court in Puerto Rico on Chardón Street in Hato Rey. Our Puerto Rican National Hero Rafael Cancel Miranda will be our special guest!

    If you belong to any particular group, feel free to bring your flags and signs to our protest. We want it to be a collective effort involving everyone who believes that colonialism is a crime against humanity and a threat to world peace. We need to have as many people as possible, because those who practice or accept colonialism don’t believe in justice for all!

    Un abrazo,