MNN. Mar. 2, 2013. Why is Leonard Peltier still in jail, since 1977? He is a 68-year old Lakota prisoner of war. We need to help get him out.
Peltier, a former member of American Indian Movement AIM, is the longest incarcerated person in the US. He is in Coleman Prison Florida. He was convicted of aiding and abetting the killing of 2 FBI agents in 1975. Life sentence is 7 years. He got more than 5 life sentences, violating US laws.
Native Elders, Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, Peter Coyote and others held a concert in New York City in 2012, to give President Obama a message to, as Peltier said, “Turn me loose”.
Says Peltier, “I never got a fair trial, international laws were violated, racists sat on the jury, I had no defence, evidence was manufactured and witnesses were tortured”. The weapon tests showed negative. Judge Haney said, “There is no evidence of first degree murder. No one knows who killed the agents or what he had to do with it. But somebody has to pay for this.”
He wants release or house arrest as he needs medical attention for a number of ailments, “I am willing to wear an ankle bracelet”.
At the time, murders were committed on Pine Ridge, financed by the government, with intelligence, armored piercing ammunition and sophisticated weaponry. Violence began when US agents arrived carrying guns and started shooting. All the deaths were needless. Congressman Tim Johnson of North Dakota has promised to investigate this.
Peltier symbolizes that US society is held together by force. We cannot be free if we are being threatened with violence, such as fines, jails, confiscation of possessions or denial of rights, due process and death.
International law was violated when they failed to recognize his nation and its jurisdiction. He was denied a hearing before an impartial third party and was tried by one of the parties to the dispute, the US justice system. Peltier was imprisoned for defending the families and people. “I stood up for my people to stop the Termination Act. I did nothing, let alone kill somebody.”
A fundamental principle of survival is that anyone who is attacked has a right to defend themselves. Good decent people of the international community need to stand with us. We will all be stronger if we respect each other’s autonomy. As Bon Scott sang in gone shooting: “Feel the pressure rise. Hear the whistle blow. Never said bye-bye. All the cryin’ eyes.”
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