Justice for Mutulu and all Political Prisoners & Prisoners of War
Photo Credit: @sdu_stencil_art
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TABLE OF CONTENTS: Section 1: Editorial What Time Is It? Makungu M. Akinyela MXGM Chapters Reaffirm the Struggle is for Self-Determination in 2021 4-10 Section 2: International American foreign policy, the same old (expletive)?
The US Human Rights Network: Embracing the Decade, Advancing the Struggle
kwame-osagyefo kalimara 12-16 Vickie Casanova - Willis 17-19
Section 3: Political Prisoners & Prisoners of War Mutulu Shakur: Prisoner Of War Not Bad Training or Lack of Cameras: Demand a War on White Supremacy in Police Agencies!
Nyeusi Jami 20-22 Makungu M. Akinyela 23-24
Section 4: Culture A Self-Determined Prophecy Power
Ifetayo M. Flannery 26 Halima Olufemi 27-28
Section 5: Notes on Revolutionary Theory & Practice Towards a Truth and Reconciliation Commission Dr. Mutulu Shakur For New Afrikan/Black Political Prisoners, Prisoners of War and Freedom Fighters 29-37
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Photo Credit: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutulu_Shakur
This issue of BAMN is dedicated to our brother and comrade, Mutulu
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Section 1: Editorial What Time Is It? MXGM Chapters Reaffirm the Struggle is for Self-Determination in 2021 Makungu Akinyela It was a rallying cry heard at Black power gatherings and events throughout the early 1970s. “What time is it?” and without hesitation the crowds would respond, “it’s nation time!” From the east coast to the west coast and deep into the still Jim Crow South, Black people were becoming clear that beyond the Black bourgeois demand for inclusion, integration and acceptance of the Big Six civil rights organizations, the Black working people, the masses that Frantz Fanon called the wretched of the earth wanted self-determination expressed as Black Power. Now almost fifty years later, after four years of increasing fascist white supremacist backlash and state sanctioned violence against our people and after a year of a genocidal pandemic which has killed thousands, the call for Black Power / self-determination is being heard in Black communities and from Black organizations again. In the new year of 2021, it is becoming clear that it’s still nation time and time for self-determination. Self-determination is the third unifying principle of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. This past Kwanzaa, MXGM celebrated Kujichagulia, self-determination day virtually to carry the message to the masses of our people that self-determination is our ongoing political focus as we continue the fight against fascism and white supremacy. MXGM chapters delivered statements on self-determination from their various cities to affirm our understanding of the importance of this principle to our people’s freedom struggle. The following are some of those statements from our MXGM chapters. Each of these statements represent the heartfelt commitment of our organization and our movement to heighten the fight for Black liberation and Black control of Black people’s lives which is self-determination. Jackson, Mississippi Chapter Habari Gani and Free the Land! We offer warm revolutionary greetings on behalf of the Jackson chapter of MXGM. On this second day of Kwanzaa, Kujichagulia, we emphasize the need of self-determination through the exercise of community-led governance. Our people have the right to not only vote, but to dictate and direct government. Through people's assemblies, participatory budgeting and community led safety efforts, we strive to create a people's government. The people must absolutely decide!
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Atlanta, Georgia Chapter Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), “To name ourselves, speak for ourselves, create for ourselves, govern ourselves and never ever let anyone else do it for us. Now more than ever our people demand self-determination for our collective survival! It should be clear after four years of suffering under an open white supremacist fascism and nine months of a genocidal pandemic under that fascism that American democracy is a paper tiger. Like Malcolm X taught us, while no president or politician will save us, we must control the politics of our communities. We need to control the police in our communities. We need to control the education in our communities. We need to control the housing and food and health in our communities. We need Black Control of Black Lives. Down here in the New Afrikan Territory, the heart of the white supremacist Confederacy our people are standing up and fighting back, in Mississippi, and Georgia, and South Carolina, and Louisiana, and Alabama. Our people are standing up to white supremacy, and xenophobia, and sexism, and homophobia. We are united in the fight for Black working people and for economic justice. Let us organize all of our people to fight back to gain control and demand freedom for our nation! We want to invite our brothers and sisters from all over the American empire to join us in this coming year to make 2021 the year of Revival and recovery as we fight for Self-Determination! Let’s unite the Black nation in 2021 to demand reparations and human rights for our people. Let’s unite in 2021 with our brothers and sisters from the first nations and with our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico and Northern Mexico (California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas) and our Hawaiian brothers and sisters. MXGM is ready to Join with our people and our allies to fight for Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) for our nation in 2021 and until we are free! Oakland, California Chapter On this day of Kujichagulia we’d like to reflect on the discussions of the importance of representation that are happening in the general society. While representation can result in reform, it must never be confused for self-determination, our ultimate objective. Too often our people become satisfied through the symbolic gesture of having a seat at the table. While we sometimes do get invited as guests to the enemy’s table, more often than not, we’re really not being invited to dine, we were invited to become the meal. What we think of as a seat at the table ends up really becoming a prize position on the plate.
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We have to refocus our energy and attention on self-determination. Our ancestors and elders held the wisdom to know that we must work harder and smarter than our enemies to make a way for ourselves to survive in this world. They weren’t fundamentally concerned about what white people thought of them; what really mattered to them was getting the education and the resources necessary to control their own lives. We are a people who have had the fundamental human right to collectively choose how we relate to each other and to the world at large taken away from us. This is among the most sacred and fundamental of human rights. For nearly half a millennium, the genius of our people has been used so that other people can thrive. Imagine what the world would be if we as a people, as a liberated nation, could really reap the fruits of our labor for ourselves. We are already among the most emulated people in the world, but imagine that truly being used to our benefit and not for the profits of our enemies. So tonight on this day of Kujichagulia, a day that is dedicated to self-determination we ask you all to recommit to the mission of creating a world where our people are truly liberated, free to choose our own leadership and directly act in our own interest without fear of outside reprisal from our historic oppressors. A world where we have liberated land on which to build a society truly reflective of the aspirations of our people. We can do it, it has been done before, and it has never before been so necessary Free The Land Detroit, Michigan Chapter “Our identity as a people (New Afrikans) lies at the center of the struggle for self-determination. Choosing political destiny requires a specific socio-political consciousness. As we struggle as a people for resolutions of our problems, We need an identity that distinguishes us from the forces of evil which symbolizes our need to move beyond the boundaries of U.S political economic structures and its bourgeois/capitalist values and morality. Our evolving identity must inform our new politics and the new socio - economic structure that We need in order to realize ourselves as New People.” -- Owusu Yaki Yakubu. On this second day of Kwanzaa We honor the second principle of the Ngozu Saba (Seven Principals), Kujichagulia, which translates to self-determination. Self-determination is the human right of a people to define Our own social, cultural, political, and economic destiny. It is with self-determination that we will continue to smash the chains of oppression and live up to our fullest potential. Detroit is steeped in the history of New Afrikan self- determination. She birthed the Shrine of the Black Madonna and the Black Government Conference that helped develop the Code Of
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Umoja of the Republic of New Afrika. It is here, where the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement will continue to keep the struggle for Kujichagulia, self- determination, alive. Going into 2021, the Detroit Chapter will continue such programs as the Heritage Youth Program, Detroit State of the City Conference, and will continue to support Our own institutions that will help us move toward defining our own social-political reality We realize this struggle is not an easy one. It is protracted in nature and has its highs and lows. We ask for those New Afrikans that are dedicated to the revolutionary struggle for national liberations to join us as we move forward together. Harambee!!!
Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, Chapter The Kiswahili word Kujichagulia translates in English to self-determination, the second principle of Kwanzaa. It is also the third principle of our liberation organization, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. As a concept, Self-determination speaks not only to the abstract right of human beings to determine their own destiny; it specifically speaks to the right of a people, of a nation to freely decide who will govern it and to craft its own course in world affairs. Selfdetermination is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. For the New Afrikan nation, the U.N.’s reaffirmation of the right in its “Declaration of Granting Independence to the Colonial Countries and Peoples” (UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), 14 December 1960) is of utmost importance. There the U.N. condemns the “subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation” as “a denial of fundamental human rights'' and “an impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation.” Furthermore, the declaration posits, “Believing that the process of liberation is irresistible and irreversible and that, in order to avoid serious crises, an end must be put to colonialism and all practices of Segregation and discrimination associated therewith.” Through the concept of “Segregation” the U.N. General Assembly’s resolution recognized our status as colonized people. It’s this specific interpretation of Kujichagulia, as the right to shatter our colonial bonds, the right to construct an autonomous existence free from oppression that we rededicate ourselves to today, this second day of Kwanzaa 2020. In the New Year, we in the Champaign-Urbana chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement will work to inspire a greater sense of revolutionary Black nationalism among our people. Over the last year, our people in CU have demonstrated a will to fight. But as of yet, the targets are poorly chosen; and they are guided by a mobilizing instead of an organizing strategy. Given the pandemic, we will focus our resources on political education, on raising consciousness—to
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channel our energies toward providing our people with movement building skills—knowledge, critical thinking and organizing skills—to build autonomous institutions that enable our community to resist oppression. Kujichagulia will be our watchword for the coming year. We will fight and work; contest and build toward a revolutionary Black Power. We will struggle to strengthen our existing independent institutions and to build new autonomous ones that push us toward liberation in 2021. Washington, DC Chapter We bring greetings of Free the Land, Habari Gani?! Kujichagulia from inside the heart of the US empire, Washington DC, also known as Banneker City. What is Self-determination for Black people, for New Africans in DC? We are in a Black city that we cannot govern, because there is no statehood. Where we don't have control of our schools. Where We don't have control of the land or housing. It means we must create new ways to engage and organize in political struggle Self Determination is the conscious choice for each one of us to see ALL Black people regardless of age, class, gender identity, sexuality or religion as our people wherever they are in the diaspora. Self Determination is the practice of building sustainable thriving communities of resistance in the time of a global pandemic, of white supremacist violence, of ramped police violence. Self Determination is our right to resist, to rise up and to create the kind of world that makes it possible for us to be our full selves. We want to lift up the Black-led organizations in the DMV who have been doing this work, who are aligned with our principles and values, and who love Black people enough to fight. As a chapter, we are committed to continuing to organize to free our people from police repression, to support local efforts in DC to get police out of schools, to defund the police, to win community control of our city. Last, we have a responsibility, as a resurgent liberation struggle and independence movement in the US empire to free all political prisoners and all people behind the walls. They don't have self-determination behind those walls. Free Mutulu Shakur, Russell Maroon Shoatz, Sundiata Acoli, Mumia and all political prisoners and prisoners of war.
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As we are taught by our esteemed Queen Mother Moore, wherever there is a struggle for Black people, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement will be there. Free The Land! By Any Means Necessary! New York Chapter As we gather this evening to celebrate the second day of Kwanzaa, Kujichagulia – self-determination, it is important for us to reflect upon self-determination from the historical perspective of the New Afrikan Freedom Struggle. Informed by the words and actions of Queen Mother Moore and Malcolm X, along with countless Ancestors, we build a foundation to determine our future as a people and a nation. Malcolm X told us that “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man [a human], you take it.” In the NYC chapter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement during this time of pandemic and political unrest, we are committed to self-determination. To forward this commitment, we struggle towards abolition of the carceral state and freedom for all Afrikan people. We are committed to forging alternative approaches to accountability, security and justice within our communities that rely upon the abundance, vibrancy and creativity of our people. It is said that resourced communities are the safest. We are committed to defunding the NYPD by at least 1billions dollars and using those resources to determine our destiny as a people. We are committed to serving our youth, who are our future always, by growing and maintaining our New Afrikan Scouts program. We are committed to bringing attention to the countless political prisoners who are still locked up across this empire. While we have made strides in the release of some political prisoners, we still have too many others locked up. Sundiata Acoli, Russell Maroon Shoatz, Mutulu Shakur, Jamil Al-Amin, Kamau Sadiki, Ed Poindexter and others have spent too long inside and we are committed to their release. Our commitment is not only to abolition within New York City but to the ending of police terror and the power of the carcel state throughout the American empire. Self-determination for New Afrikans everywhere. Queen Mother Moore told us that “There wasn’t nothing to do but get in the struggle.” If we are serious about transforming our conditions, serious about winning our freedom, serious about forging our destiny -- then we must be our own agents of change. Self-determination as a New Afrikan means that we follow and build upon the words of Malcolm X, Queen Mother Moore and many, many more. We are inspired by the words of Malcolm X and Queen Mother Moore, to build upon their legacies through organized action and membership in movements committed to the work of freedom and liberation. Now is the time and the future is in our hands. We must stand together in the sunlight not in the shadows. As the tides change, and 2021 brings both challenge and opportunity, we as the New Afrikan nation must become active agents of our own liberation. 9
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In the spirit of kujichagulia, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Free the Land! Philadelphia, PA Chapter Self-determination means that We control our collective destiny. In the short term, exercising self-determination gives us the opportunity to make decisions at the local level, which allows our people to direct resources toward our basic needs. With self-determination, We can better feed, cloth, house, educate, and secure ourselves. That is the most basic standard for a decent life. In the longer term, self-determination requires that our people and our communities work together to develop an economic and political direction that helps us achieve new levels of human creativity, to work in solidarity with our fellow humans of various nations, and to reach levels of human dignity for all. Ultimately, We will control—as much as humanly possible—what happens to our people without the interference of a hostile and destructive enemy. As an important step toward our short- and long-term vision of self-determination, We are helping organize our people in a part of Philadelphia that does not have much revolutionary activity at the current moment. One of our goals is to work with our neighbors, family members, and friends to empower ourselves to secure what We need to survive the multi-pronged attack being carried out against our people. From food insecurity to police and intra-communal violence, our people are suffering. To that end, We are committed to building a New Afrikan Scouts program that can help counter the damage that being colonized within the u.s. empire causes to our children. Because adults also suffer from the daily assault We experience, We plan to reignite our political education sessions and recruit new membership. With all of the mobilizations that occurred to combat racist policing, We see the need to continue working with people to encourage ideological development and longer term participation in the movement. Finally, We look forward to working alongside our local elders, youth leaders, parents, business owners and more to coordinate a People’s Assembly. We believe that through these efforts, We can achieve collective self-determination and help oppressed people all over the world overcome centuries of exploitation, degradation, and imperialist violence.
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Photo Credit: Face2Face Africa
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Section 2: International American foreign policy, the same old (expletive)? kwame-osagyefo kalimara “We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye... and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost.” Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright Prophetic voices are at times shut down and vilified by the power elites. In the case of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, it was former U.S. President, Barack Obama. Obama denounced Wright’s truth telling because it served the interests of “empire.” Ignoring the crimes of empire, oppression and exploitation of peoples in foreign nations ignores the privileges of wealth gained by U.S. foreign policy. Controlling the global economy by the interests of the 1% invites responses by those populations struggling for their human rights. The chickens, just as Malcolm X predicted are coming to roost. The voice of truth is in plain sight if we only look beyond the veneer of capitalist/imperialist opportunism. The United States over the last four years has had a rocky ride under the leadership of Donald J. Trump. The more apparent contradiction is his emboldening of white supremacy, police and vigilante murder of black and brown peoples domestically. Although it is not difficult to see its application to U.S. foreign policy issues (border wall, immigration, foreign aid, detention, deportation, etc.), America is breathing a sigh of relief with his loss of the presidency to Joseph Biden. An examination/overview of Trump’s policy is important to review. His praise and support of authoritarian leaders Kim Jong Un (North Korea), Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Egypt), Viktor Orban (Hungry), Narendra Modi (India), Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey), and Vladimir Putin (Russia) speaks volumes on the “western” blind eye to human rights violations. Trump during the last few months of his presidency recognized Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights as part of its state which is in violation of international law. Trump and his predecessors recognize occupied Palestine as part of the state Israel. Although Palestine is recognized by the United Nations, Israel continues to expand its occupation and peaceful resistance has been met with violence, injuring and killing Palestinians each year. Early in 2018, according to BBC News, peaceful Palestinian protestors gathered on the Gaza border
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where among the dead were eight children under 16 years of age, including an eight-month-old infant, and 2,700 injured. No Israelis were killed or injured. There are decades of reports of Isreali murder of Palestinian peoples and illegal settlements on their lands. Ignoring these Zionist actions by the united states is complicity in genocide. In 2000, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 called on member states to “take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence in situations of armed conflict.” Unfortunately, the united states continues to move backwards in human rights protections of women. According to Human Rights Watch, in April 2019 the United States sought to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution (2467) on “sexual violence in conflict” because it included language acknowledging women’s reproductive health services. U.S. foreign policy reflects its domestic policy denying women’s human rights. On January 3rd of 2020, the Trump administration launched a drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport assassinating Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, along with nine others. The Trump administration claimed that its action was necessary to stop an "imminent attack" on united states personnel and its interests. Agnes Callamard, the United Nations representative overseeing “targeted killings,” stated that “in the absence of a specific plot, of which none existed, is not self-defense and as such illegal under international human rights law.” Moreover, she also argued that “the deaths of those killed as collateral damage, including drivers and security guards, were unlawful.” Trump lost the presidency, not on the basis of his foreign policy, but because of quasi-domestic policy and his handling of the covid pandemic. His lies and fascism would not deter his white nationalist supporters, those overt racists and covert liberals. Trump lost and the winning majority of voters are looking for a stable policy shift, a return to so-called to normal. Any analysis supports the position that “normal” was never good for black, brown, red, and all other oppressed and exploited populations in America and around the world. Police and extra-judicial murder of peoples of color continue to rise and justice is just as elusive as in Our collective past. During the Trump-Biden presidential elections, the news media continued to report claims that Obama was the most liked president. I believe that the intention was to convey liberal notions on domestic and foreign policy as well as making some statement that much of America supported a black president. The implication is that the u.s. is not that bad, and we can return to normal after Trump’s defeat. For many, Obama got a pass, twice (elected president), in both domestic and foreign policy in that order. The “Hope and Change” promise was never delivered. Obama delivered nothing 13
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substantive for black people outside of “swag” appeal. He was able to pass the George W. Bush surveillance policy, allowing for more intrusive privacy violations of the Patriot Act of 2001 where Bush (G.W.) himself could not. In domestic and foreign policy, let us examine his record. Barack Obama supported the U.S. boycott of the World Conference against Racism in 2001. During his term of office, he boycotted the Durban Review Conference in 2009 and the Durban III Conference in 2011. Obama, as president, articulated that he did not support reparations for black people in the United States who are historic and current victims of crimes against humanity. Recently, he has altered his position (opportunism) because the push propelled by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and hundreds of others. This momentum forced Biden to “voice” reparations support. In some sectors of the political community Obama is known as the “Drone King.” According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Obama carried “more strikes in his first year than G.W. Bush carried out during his entire presidency. A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries.” The Council of Foreign Relations noted in 2017 that the 547 Obama drone strikes killed an estimated 3,797 people, including 324 civilians. Assassinations are under Obama’s belt also. Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Osama bin Laden in 2011, and Anwar al-Awlaki also in 2011. It must be noted that assassinations, otherwise known as “state sanctioned killings” are illegal under international law. Only as an act of self-defense can a member state be protected under United Nations Article 51. Obama, it must be noted in 2013, instructed the FBI to put the New Afrikan freedom fighter Assata Shakur (living in exile in Cuba) on the Ten Most Wanted Terrorists List. No other women in the history of the American empire has such a distinction. There still remains a $2 million bounty for her capture. Should we assume that Obama’s vice president, now president (Biden), will be any different? The goal of an empire is to preserve itself and to expand its power, influence, and resources. The cost is the violation of human rights of the nations and peoples subjugated through centuries of oppression and exploitation. In 2018, Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident, was murdered under the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration said there was no credible evidence supporting any assertion that the Crown Prince had any culpability. Biden just declassified a report that concludes that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the assassination of Khashoggi. Biden in 2019 said in response to the question posed by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell: “President Trump has not punished senior Saudi leaders. Would you?” Biden replied: “Yes. And I said it at the time. Khashoggi was in fact By Any Means Necessary
murdered and dismembered, and, I believe, on the order of the crown prince. And I would make it very clear we were not going to in fact sell more weapons to them. We were going to, in fact, make them pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are. There’s very little social redeeming value of the — in the present government in Saudi Arabia.” Biden has now ignored the notion of holding the Crown Prince accountable saying that no sanctions will be imposed and that the Crown Prince has been a close ally. In February, Biden carried out airstrikes on eastern Syria that targeted Iranian-backed militia groups. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights at least 22 people were killed. Speaking on Democracy Now (March 1, 2021) California Congressmember Ro Khanna, says President Biden’s recent airstrikes in Syria lacked legal authority under the united states’ law and under international law. Sage wisdom from a New Afrikan priest suggests that “the recent shift in political power in the American Empire offers no reason to pause.” The evidence is conclusive. “The other evil twin is still laying plans to disenfranchise voices who scream for self-determination and equity in foreign policy.” We must adjust our assessments for correct judgment. “Respect must be given to the wise counsel, our elders and of our youth.” “How can we stand aside And watch the rape of the world This the beginning of the end This the most heinous of crimes This the deadliest of sins The greatest violation of all time Mother of us all Place of our birth We all are witness To the rape of the world.” Tracy Chapman, The Rape of the World
Revolution is not a one-time event. It is becoming always vigilant for the smallest opportunity to make a genuine change in established, outgrown responses. If our history has taught us anything, it is that action for change directed only against the external conditions of our oppressions is not enough. In order to be whole, we must recognize the despair oppression plants within each of us – And we must fight. Audre Lorde, “Learning from the 60s”
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Our actions as a political movement are the empire’s “chicken coming home to roust!!!” “We are the ones We are waiting for!” Ancestral blessings. Free the Land!!!
Resources: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2020/country-chapters/united-states https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/09/barack-obamas-shaky-legacy-human-rights https://www.fpri.org/article/2019/12/obama-and-trump-foreign-policy-opposites-or-twins/ https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-17/obamas-covert-drone-war-in-number s-ten-times-more-strikes-than-bush https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44116340
Photo Credit: 2PacLegacy.net
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The US Human Rights Network: Embracing the Decade, Advancing the Struggle Vickie Casanova-Willis
“History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. History tells a people where they have been and what they have been; where they are and what they are. Most important, history tells a people where they still must go, what they still must be.” Dr. John Henrik Clarke Beloved community, It is with great pride and joy that I have recently accepted the invitation to lead the next phase of movement-building for, and with, the US Human Rights Network (USHRN or The Network), as its first ever Co-Executive Director. This represents an intentional shift to a shared leadership model, designed to meet the urgent needs of this extraordinary time in history. Across the world and right here “at home” in the U.S.A., undeniable signs of the times – from the cries of a desperate nearly dying planet, to devastated and devalued people of all creeds and shades – call out for greater unity, a deeper understanding of our shared oppression, and a stronger commitment to exposing and eradicating the barriers to liberation for all human beings. USHRN’s People-Centered Human Rights Mission It is a tall order to defy the status quo of our powerful corporate-government ruling class, in order to build a strong people-centered domestic human rights movement. Yet the USHRN has, in its 17 years of existence defied many odds and survived both external and internal challenges to date, to unapologetically advance this goal. Reflecting on the many accomplishments of this relatively young organization, the Network’s sheroes and heroes are the people most directly impacted by human rights violations, who have courageously shared their experiences, often unthinkable losses, and incredible strength to persevere despite opposition from expected and unexpected sources alike…to demand change. As a longtime active member, and now part of the USHRN leadership team, I am reminded daily of these present and previous giants on whose shoulders we stand. We who believe in freedom are building on a strong foundation in the fight for human rights. This work honors the example our ancestors modeled for thousands of years in Africa’s great civilizations, that the community is the responsibility of all its members and that economic, social, and cultural rights are foundational to intellectual and spiritual excellence for individuals and societies. This is the same category of human rights, by the way, that our U.S. government consistently refuses to support even on paper in treaty form, but I digress. Drawing inspiration from more recent history includes the human rights activism of countless great women and men, from Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass to W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, Ida B. Wells, Malcolm X, and many other African American freedom fighters seeking to abolish chattel slavery, post-Reconstruction 17
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lynching, and eventually the ever-evolving expressions of the new Jim Crow. Giants. Ancestors. Elders. Fathers and Mothers. Youth fearlessly using their brains and bodies on the front lines today and every day to demand a higher standard, advancing the struggle from civil rights to human rights. They all are an inspiration for this current leg of the human rights movement-building relay that we must continue to run, and that we must win. The Current Sankofa Moment – Know the History to Defend the Future Just as Dr. John Henrik Clarke’s quote underscores, history is not simply something that happened in the past. It is a crucial lens through which we can better understand the present and strategically prepare for a more just future. A glance at the political and cultural time of day which he references, makes it clear for us at this seminal point in history, that all of humanity is indeed at a crossroads with regard to what many are calling a “racial reckoning.” Even the newly elected Biden-Harris administration has devoted an Executive Order to the cause of Racial Equity.
Following the public lynching, US new millennium style, of Mr. George Floyd amid daily news of too many other Black (African descendant) men, women, youth, and elders having their human rights denied in the most egregious manner, more people now claim awareness and a “woke” new worldview. Indeed, the entire world watched, and many marched – in the middle of a pandemic, in groups numbering the tens of thousands in every major city on the globe – to call for an end to the genocide of African descendant people who are targeted by murderous police every-where that people exist. Despite this unprecedented show of solidarity, heightened awareness of anti-Black racism does not necessarily translate into strategic, coordinated action. This is part of the human rights mandate that lies before the US Human Rights Network and its over 300 organizations and numerous individual members. Public education to understand the breadth of human rights mechanisms and how they can be applied locally, today. We call this “Bringing Human Rights Home,” as the emerging human rights cities movement is also working to do. Where Do We Go From Here? It is important to understand the significance of this present “moment” in the struggle to apply human rights principles across all aspects of our society. We are currently in the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), which is an outcome of the Durban World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance (WCAR). Notably, 2021 is the 20th Anniversary of this historic conference, which merits significant study to claim the promises articulated there, outlined in the Durban Declaration. Within the US Human Rights Network, we work to connect our struggles and victories utilizing the proactive human rights framework to demand greater accountability for all issue areas, to both inform the international community for support and to hold our local, state, and national decision makers accountable to this higher standard which exceeds the limitations of a civil rights frame. We are currently laser-focused on visioning and implementing USHRN 2024, informed by the themes of Recognition, Justice, and Development within the International Decade for Peoples of African Descent that also culminates 3 years from now. And our USHRN 2030 strategic plan will align US Human Rights Network activities for the next decade, with the 2030 Sustainable By Any Means Necessary
Development Goals (SDGs) that are being embraced globally for the elimination of current inequities in all areas of basic human thriving. For those who may feel that even a partial focus on the African diaspora does not include you, I offer the words of Arthur Schomburg of the New York’s famed Schomburg Museum: “this is not African history; these are the missing pages of world history.” Across the USHRN we all are in this struggle together. And like the interconnectedness of human rights violations and remedies, we know that advancing the adherence by oppressors to human rights standards, will lift us all. From the work our members are leading for economic, social, cultural, civil, political, environmental and sexual rights, to their efforts to free civil rights era political prisoners and find the heart to protect the rights of children and families regardless of how they look or where they were born…this is righteous and courageous work which can only succeed if we work together. USHRN has active and proposed working groups which would welcome your co-leadership. Please join us in strengthening a sustainable people-centered US human rights movement which
has the potential to transform the reality for current and future generations. As part of the human race, we are one. You will be the best part of the USHRN. This network is WE. And we need you, to bring human rights home, now. Vickie Casanova-Willis Co-Executive Director, US Human Rights Network firstname.lastname@example.org The US Human Rights Network is a national network of organizations and individuals working to strengthen a human rights movement and culture within the United States, that is led by the people most directly impacted by human rights violations. We invite you to work with us in building this people-centered human rights movement. The time is right now. The next generation needs you.
Photo Credit: UN.org
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Section 3: Political Prisoners & Prisoners of War Mutulu Shakur: Prisoner Of War Nyeusi Jami
Photo Credit: eme-olu.com
Mutulu Shakur has been held in captivity by the United States empire since 1986. He is accused of being a criminal, convicted of RICO conspiracy, armed bank robbery, and bank robbery killings, with no evidence ever having been presented that he killed anyone. However, that is what the empire says. Mutulu himself has stated very clearly that he has made a lifelong commitment as a New Afrikan freedom fighter, engaged in the protracted struggle to gain land and independence for the New
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Afrikan Nation within the united states empire. Mutulu’s comrades in that struggle have made similar public pronouncements. In September, 1983, in the charade that the united states empire called a court trial, Kuwasi Balagoon made this statement: Expropriation raids are a method used in every revolution by those who have got to get resources from the haves to carry on armed struggle. When George Washington and company crossed the Delaware it was to raid the British, to take money, supplies and arms, even though he was financed by the French and owned slaves. Joseph Stalin robbed banks when he was fifteen to support revolutionary struggle. The Sabate Brothers in Spain were obliged to empty the tills of banks to resist Franco during the Spanish Civil War. When Carlos Marighella in Brazil or the Tupamaros in Uruguay expropriated from banks to finance their struggles, it was clear to the press that they were revolutionaries; this government sent counterinsurgency specialists to help the juntas and dictators they resisted and expropriated from, just as they’ve done in regards to Argentina. But here in the U.S., the government doesn’t acknowledge the collection of revolutionary compulsory tax as the work of revolutionaries, just as the British do not acknowledge the I.R.A., just as Israel doesn’t acknowledge the P.L.O. and just as the Southern Africans do not acknowledge the A.N.C. It’s too close. In a 1983 New York Times article regarding that same farce of a trial, the writer describes an exchange between the district attorney and Sekou Odinga, discussing the October 1981 Brinks truck expropriation: “During cross-examination, the prosecutor, Kenneth Gribetz, District Attorney of Rockland County, asked about the contents of a communique Mr. Odinga said the Black Liberation Army had issued about the Brink's robbery. It stated. . . that the revolutionary armed task force, fighting under the leadership of Black Liberation Army soldiers, had taken the military action for the purpose of gaining funds to help carry on survival programs.” The New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO), the parent organization of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), was clearly in support of these freedom fighters from the time of its founding. NAPO stated this in its 1984 founding statement: “We cannot equivocate in our support of those who engage the enemy in political/military combat. For to do so, is to reduce our pronouncements to mere posturing, and to increase the danger to those engaging the enemy in this manner. It is therefore, our responsibility to champion our right to organize for the defense of our nation. We must not allow repression to make cowards of us. We must continue to organize for our National Liberation.” In 2021, MXGM continues to stand by our comrade, elder, and hero Mutulu Shakur, in that same spirit. As Mutulu stated right after he was captured in 1986:
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I have treated, I dare say, 5,000 to 10,000 people for methadone and drug withdrawal. I’ve worked to expose methadone as chemical warfare being waged against Black people. I think I have taught more people acupuncture who are not M.D.’s than almost anybody in this country. That’s not a bragging thing; it is just to say I’ve been working my ass off (excuse the expression, Ma). I think that I have always -- always -- followed the struggle. Wherever the struggle is, I will go there. I have no life other than the struggle; it was through the struggle that I developed acupuncture. My patients covered a vast range of people. I’ve worked in Queens to develop an educational structure. I’ve worked in the urban renewal program in South Jamaica when they were putting up York College. I’ve worked on the National Task Force for CoIntelPro Litigation and Research to expose government misconduct against the white left and covert operations against the Black Liberation Movement. I have worked consistently with ZANU in Zimbabwe. That’s not ‘I, I, I,’ but it’s true; that’s what I’ve done. I’ve been in Cairo, IL and Wilmington, NC. It’s because it’s what I’m about. If they can isolate me from the community, then they can isolate the community from me. Our people and our movement have been robbed of this exceptional servant of the people for far too long. Fighting for freedom is not a crime. Fighting for freedom is not a crime. Fighting for freedom is not a crime. The African descendants inside the united states constitute a brutalized, exploited, and colonized African nation. We are absolutely justified, under international law, to use any means necessary to gain freedom for our nation. Mutulu Shakur was captured by the enemy, while serving as a soldier in that fight. There is not now, and never was, any justification to put him through a criminal trial. The united states empire is in clear violation of the Geneva Convention standards regarding treatment of prisoners of war. Mutulu, and our other incarcerated freedom fighters, should be returned to our nation immediately. Free ‘Em All! For more information on how to support Dr. Mutulu, go to https://mutulushakur.com
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Not Bad Training or Lack of Cameras: Demand a War on White Supremacy in Police Agencies! Makungu M. Akinyela
In 2013 MXGM reported in a document called Operation Ghetto Storm, that a Black man, woman or child was murdered by a police officer, security agent, or white vigilante every 28 hours. In the period between the COVID 19 shelter in place and currently we have been inundated with news, social media and video of horrific murders of Black people in their cars, in their homes, and on the street resulting in mass mobilization and resistance, not only in the USA, but around the world in support of an end to the Genocidal police and vigilante war on Black people. Over the past months we have learned several important facts about why this seemingly relentless genocide has continued without let up. The roots of police terror on Black and Brown communities goes far beyond simple fixes or “a few bad apples.” We have learned: 1. In 2006, the FBI filed a report warning of white supremacist infiltration of police departments across the USA. (PBS news, Oct. 21, 2016) 2. A Homeland Security Report withheld for months warned that violent white supremacy was the “most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland.” (New York Times, Oct. 6, 2020) 3. US President Biden pledged to fight white supremacy in his inaugural speech (Mother Jones, January 22, 2021) 4. The FBI has a long history of collaborating with and financially supporting the KKK and other white supremacists’ enemies of Black people, including the fascists Proud Boys hate group (Democracy Now! January 28, 2021)
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It is clear that the problem is far beyond “better training” and body cameras. The problem is white supremacy and systemic racist oppression. We believe that this imminent fascist surge must be fought by building broad unity across our different struggles regardless of our long-term strategic objectives. We are asking that you join us in raising four key demands among our various communities, and that we promote these demands to be a guideline for policy and action with the Black, Asian, Hispanic and progressive caucuses in Congress. We see the changing of the conversation among the people is key. Refocus the people’s attention on what the cause of police terror is and encourage the people to champion these demands in their local areas. WHAT WE MUST DEMAND: 1.There must be a concerted and public rooting out of white supremacist and fascist from all court systems, police, Federal agencies, military, and sheriff’s departments across the USA. 2.Immediate support for and passing of “The Breathe ACT” as proposed by the Movement 4 Black Lives. 3.An immediate apology from the US government for allowing the white supremacist war on Black and Brown people to be waged through court systems, police, Federal agencies, military, and sheriff’s departments. 4.An immediate discussion of HR 40 Reparations Bill with a particular focus on reparations due for the ongoing organized white supremacist war by police, Federal agencies, military, sheriffs and the courts on Black people. Reparations should always include freedom for political prisoners, prisoners of war and political exiles who are the front-line resisters against white supremacy. If you are in support of these demands and would like to help build this out, please contact the mxgm chapter close to you. You can find us at www.mxgm.org/contact
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Photo Credit: Jim Hughes, NY Daily News, 1986
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Section 4: Culture A Self-Determined Prophecy Ifetayo M. Flannery A friend of mine told me that I was “consciously aware, but was I aware of my consciousness” My consciousness, well there were many of them. My epic memory is already more than 2,000 years old- it made me aware of sacred rituals. It made the universe feel close and my Mama's cooking have healing powers. It made the night time feel pregnant with possibilities because I could hear all of the things I could not see. This epic memory told me I had power in my words and in my hands; told me that magic work was simply the right intentions mixed with the right song and an offering to the earth. This epic memory allowed me the courage to be a magician; to be a healer. Then there was my ancestral consciousness- I found it later in life. She held me so gently even before I cared enough or knew enough to acknowledge her. They came to me often in a female voice; never scary, just warmly present. They gave me advice always and real power I learned to use; much like my voice. I’ve never stood in a room alone again since this awareness. I remember finally feeling what Queen Nanny and Harriet and Nat Turner and Gabriel Prosser described when they encountered their ancestors; when they awakened their destiny. These ancestors were wise and also very picky about what they wanted. I adjusted to have peace. I learned to be a listener. My inner conscious thrives on love. It found it in so many places. It is determined to exist in any environment. I tried to put it out of business at times and begged it to take a vacation. But where was the gratitude for this consciousness that colored my greatest experiences? It made me fall in love with my community and therefore myself. It forced me to realize that love was not a weakness; my pride was. It energized my will to serve; it made me accountable. Love is water. Its fluid. It’s a simple compound that can become heavy and powerful as it multiplies itself. It is life force. I learned to multiply myself in strength by feeding my inner consciousness. I learned that self-determination was more than a creed. It was an awareness.
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Power Halima Olufemi
I have too much power in me to stay behind a desk or pray for some man to give me his last name...I have my own. God has spoken and She sick of y’all shit I really don't care how you feel about me I know who I am, "say her name" is affirmation for both the living and the dead; Least we forget... Black women are killed by many and protected by few, even though we are present both behind and on the frontlines, our wombs and minds are beaten reticent with the expectation of resilience in and abundance of silence. See... Before our sister Breonna Taylor was killed, Aiyana Stanley-Jones was shot dead at the age of 7; women in Black show up at the age of 7. Eleanor Bumpers was killed because she was behind on her rent and Sandra Bland was killed for driving while Black and Miriam Carey was killed at the White House gate and Tanisha Anderson was killed because of a mental break ...and Michelle Cusseax was too ...and Pearlie Golden and Kayla Moore and Shereese Francis was too... Kathryn Johnston was killed during a drug raid at the menacing age of 92; Tyisha Miller was killed while unconscious; Danette Daniels and her unborn baby were killed in the back of a squad car; Rekia Boyd was killed for standing with her friends and Tarika Wilson was killed because they were looking for her boyfriend. It’s sickening... Emaciated minds live behind badges, guns and riot gear attacking black bodies seeking asylum 27
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from years of false democracy and isms that hold our emancipation in red tape and rhetoric guided by elephants and asses draped in robes holding gavels and deadly pens intent on making black people live in carceral spaces so much so that they place surveillance cameras in communities and call them "real time crime centers" or "operation green light" to further intimidate people of color who they already target and terrorize daily under the guise of working to eliminate crime that could really be addressed if they divest funding from murderers and invest in communities and stop monitoring our every gotdamn move. We are treated like lab rats, injected with tests and monitored for our reaction to shit that may or may not work—on display for critics, in lieu of scientists reporting and analyzing the results. We are the ant being killed slowly with a magnifying glass by some lil bad ass red-head sociopath. But I Love being Black... Even though it’s exhausting And seems bleak at times It’s our absolute duty to win... With uprisings and continuously uplifting the beauty of black skin and political education grounding our emotions and voting our conscious in every election and organizing communities against oppression and promoting the act of governing ourselves and encouraging the thought of sovereignty by purchasing our own land and protecting ourselves with more than our hands and with healing circles called black yard barbecues and grandmama like hugs that say I LOVE YOU ...even when no one else will We must Build We must Fight We must Educate We must Organize
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Section 5: Notes on Revolutionary Theory & Practice Towards a Truth and Reconciliation Commission For New Afrikan/Black Political Prisoners, Prisoners of War and Freedom Fighters Dr. Mutulu Shakur There is a need for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the U.S. to resolve the history of slavery, oppression, racism, segregation, lynching and the issues of political prisoners of the Civil Rights Black Liberation Struggle who fought against these gross human rights abuses. […] It allows the victim’s voices to be heard and for the perpetrators to confess their crimes against humanity in an application for amnesty, as well as amnesty for political prisoners. The idea of crimes against humanity comes under International law and the Geneva Convention adopted by the world at the U.N. the liability of such violations lies on nations as well as individuals who fight against the violators of human rights. The idea is premised on the fact that to truly have a democratic society—transitioning from one where human rights violations and crimes against humanity were grave and extensive—there has to be a process for reconciliation. Reconciliation includes the acknowledgment of abuses, the documentation of abuses, accountability, reparation, and an effort to establish the facts. It must be said that the democratic process will never truly work in America without such a commission. This process relies on the idea of amnesty to “solidify” the democratic society. As one considers these principles and ideas of the truth and reconciliation commission, one must contemplate the history of race relations and the gross human rights abuses against Blacks and particularly Black political prisoners for opposing the “neo-apartheid” in America. The idea that 400 years of gross and shocking human rights abuses against Blacks in America, especially in the civil rights and Black liberation era of the 1950s through the 1980s, and the mass killings and imprisonment during the Black liberation struggle particularly through the infamous Cointelpro by the CIA and FBI, cannot be overlooked or omitted as crimes against humanity under International Law and the Geneva Conventions; and to do so is shortsighted and anti-democratic. […] Furthermore, it 29
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must be understood that it doesn’t have to be a complicit act by the whole government; but agents of the government can fulfill the obligation for culpability of crimes against humanity. Such is the story in the US and the agents who carried out these agendas—the FBI, CIA through various programs most notably the Cointelpro by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, with explicit intent to target, neutralize, harass, kill, destroy, and imprison Black liberation movement participants who opposed the violations of human rights against Blacks in the US. Many victims of these efforts are political prisoners who remain incarcerated today. The argument is they should be granted amnesty under established international standards regarding them as victims of crimes against humanity committed by the US government and various agents thereof. The well documented facts and histories of what they have endured leave no doubt that these political prisoners are victims of state repression, prosecution, and suppression because they confronted the US government and its agents for the state’s covert and overt crimes against Blacks in the US. Strategic Questions and Obstacles The legal quagmire of the New Afrikan/Black liberation struggle is that political prisoner committees have not yet found an objective mechanism that allows for a legal review based on the standard universally accepted definition of what constitutes political offenses. [In other words, what distinguished them from common “crimes”?] Another problem is that in various court cases, our support committees, political organizations, and legal advocates have been forced to fight each on a case-by-case basis. This individualized approach has prevented the targeted individuals from demonstrating that Political Prisoners (PPs) and Prisoners of War (POWs) are a distinct class within the US carceral system. It also prevented them from creating a process that embraces a national resolution for all political prisoners and POWs. The lack of a unified approach leads to another challenge. Some political prisoner organizations have embraced the US legal system tactically while others not so much. Most organizations, committees, and support groups acknowledge that an internal conflict exists, important regarding developing a methodology and execution of a national resolution for a Truth and Reconciliation process. Although I have not as of yet encountered a clear and articulate opposition from the various political prisoner committees or any resistance for a TRC as a method to win freedom for political prisoners in the US of the cointelpro era, an acceptance has been muted indicated by lack of a process that realizes its application. Clearly the US state department its domestic intelligence apparatus and the political parties have worked to limit the Church Committee report to an internal domestic perspective while strategically various members of the PPs and POW class have reached relevant political solutions within the US legal context that has gained relief for some while politically pacifying the development of a process for the class of New Afrikan PPs and POWs that could expose the nature and breathe of the conflict providing relief.
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The New Afrikan/Black PP and POW classes have been denied any relevant prisoner class relief politically. I don’t consider the freedom of Geronimo Pratt, Angela Davis, Dhoruba Moore, Huey P. Newton and many of the paroled and exonerated freedom fighters as a representation of a process for our class within a historical context. That objective still needs to be realized in a true post internal conflict process; as compared to standards set in other post internal conflict resolutions, it falls far short. The review of applying the TRC to resolve internal conflict of nation states and the various methodology principles and justification is in my opinion an important analysis to resolving the suffering, isolation, and in some cases abandonment of our political prisoners. The conflict that existed between the United States and the Black/New Afrikan liberation struggle, particularly the FBI cointelpro low intensity counterinsurgency against civil rights and Black liberation struggle, represented a specific era. The US and South African historical racial policy parallel each other for most of the 19th and 20th century. The historical development and distinction of the racial policy is very important for study and analysis particularly as we evaluate the process of resolution. The historical struggle to have the United States to admit its human rights violations during its low-intensity warfare-counterinsurgency program general accepted, as the Co-intel-pro articulated under the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover has not yet identified a Black prisoner class that acted in response to that era of political repression. As political prisoners and prisoners of war we are duly entitled to amnesty under some form or a process that acknowledges the bilateral process of an alternative dispute mechanism where there are no winners. For too many years the process for freedom and recognition of our political freedom fighters has been buried in a legal process that has been based on distinguishing untangling the criminal act from political intent with no allowance for political motivation to be considered in judicial proceedings. The TRC that addresses our specific reality legally and politically must be based on the same foundations of an alternative dispute mechanism (an alternative to a judicial process, a political process offering something to both parties) that would require that the left and right of our movement to come to a political conclusion also that the right should be willing to acknowledge that New Afrikan/Black political prisoners do exist and they waged legitimate resistance to oppression, in the civil rights Black liberation era and is deserving of their support. Precedents for Speaking Out on Behalf of PPs and POWs It’s important to remember that Ambassador Andrew Young publicly proclaimed before an International audience in 1979 that there were hundreds of political prisoners in America. In doing so, he expended all of his political capital. Even President Jimmy Carter could not save his job. Cynthia McKinney suffered a similar defeat when she held the Cointelpro hearings. The political capital necessary to support our specific style of TRC is not dissimilar to South African model, which also confronted specific political challenge on the left and right of the anti-imperialist/apartheid movement.
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Our movement must accept that our spectrum of struggle included both legal and “illegal” tactics.1 The context of the US legal system is designed to ignore, on the one hand the oppression we were fighting, and on the other the right of those to resist that oppression irrespective of the findings of the Church Committee or revelation of Cointelpro without a process to resolve the fundamental [mechanism?] that addresses the freedom of our PPs or POWs or that memorializes the history that provides a relief for the victims of the quasi-apartheid system in the U.S. As of the last three decades no Black/New Afrikan freedom fighters have received amnesty politically from the executive branch or judicially on a state level. The Mississippi Rider received exoneration after 50 years, I’m not sure if it was from the state of Mississippi or the government of the United States. I do think many of our efforts on the International Tribunal front did create pressure that gained the freedom of Puerto Ricans PPs and POW and white anti-imperialist in the United States. This could be considered the Biden era. The era that represented the civil rights/Black New Afrikan liberation struggle is now becoming a fading memory. It’s our responsibility to not let that happen. From the 1960’s we followed the Malcolm X doctrine, we were rightfully inclined to pursuing a posture that looked toward an International body to resolve the internal contradictions with the United States. Pre-1990s this rationale was the correct perspective because International NGO’s, non-aligned nations and human rights advocates did in fact impact various internal conflicts around the world. Process The weaponization of sanctions and embargoes against its foes has intimidated other nations from confronting US support for fascist regimes as well as holding racist regimes against international intervention. The application of International law against violations of human rights were tread upon cautiously by nations and NGOs that did not want to incur the wrath of US foreign policy. Malcolm X was right to assert that, as long as the nonaligned nations maintained a principled position in the various world body, there was a support mechanism for our struggle in presenting the International body with the human rights violations of the US government. But when non-aligned nations dissolved and unity unraveled around the world, our struggle in the US suffered the consequences tremendously because there was no International body to support our struggle. Therefore, we should have evolved a new tactic and analysis of our plight and put forward a new or parallel strategy. As I noted before the 1979 admission by ambassador Andrew Young that there existed hundreds of political prisoners in the US resulted in his termination at the post of UN representative to the United Nations. In the convening years, most Black elected officials took a public and private position as to our existence. It was not unusual for some state representatives to give support to celebrated cases of PPs and POWs or show for PPs support committees; but very rarely have 1
All tactics were legal under international law.
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they petitioned the government or introduced legislation that could create a process to free PPs and POWs. The exceptions are important to mention. On September 14, 2000 Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney held a forum before the Congressional Black Caucus forcing them to take a position on the unfinished story of political prisoners and victims of Cointelpro in Washington, DC with congressman John Conyers leadership. Then on November 27, 2000, at the request of the honorable Brother Sonny Abudidika Carson, congressman Charles Rangel directly requested that President William J. Clinton pardon Black political prisoners of which he listed 11 Black/New Afrikan PPs and POWs with a copy to John Podesta. The offices of the Clinton White house acknowledged receipt and promised to give it a meaningful consideration. The reply came on December 21, 2000 from Kay Castevens, deputy assistant to President Clinton. There was an attempt by the Jericho Committee, attorney Bob Boyle, and attorney Saffiyah Elijah to do the same within a different context. Before leaving office in 2000, President Clinton freed Puerto Rican Freedom fighters and three white anti-imperialist comrades, a great victory indeed. In order to reasonably move toward a process to free our PPs and POWs we must solicit on a local and national level Black politicians that will be willing to present the narrative that outlines a process which demands our freedom – not slogans. Councilman Charles Barron 2002 campaign of amnesty for NY Black political prisoners established a political narrative that did enlist allies from within our ranks that have been elected to public offices. The pardon approach does speak to an alternative instead of purely relying on the benevolence of this legal process to resolve this political prisoner paradigm. The question: A Truth remains, in light of our efforts to secure pardon and/or amnesty or legal acknowledgement, is have we failed? We must now make a critical analysis of which process is possible, where can we draw a meaningful parallel example that will work? And develop it to meet our unique conditions. I believe the application of TRC “brand” with an alternative dispute mechanism process that addresses the complexity of the para-military issues of the New Afrikan/Black Paradigm is doable. The question: Is there a possibility of amnesty through a TRC that highlights a progressive process made in light of the many sacrifices of our people and freedom fighters, a legitimate transition that averts continued political/military conflict persisting during the Black liberation struggle era? Or as in Northern Ireland, will it signal an end of the past stage of the “troubles” while the political process is taking form? Amnesty is not punishment for wrongs, either to individuals or a society. It is a political remedy at a national level at a certain stage of an internal conflict in a nation state. It’s a political remedy at a national level to begin reconciliation and rebuilding a divided society through a TRC process.
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If we accept this process it will still leave outstanding political moral and principle issues the question of reparations for the violations of human rights, Jim Crow segregation, quasi-apartheid, Cointelpro, low-intensity warfare. All of the above violations set the stage that establishes resistance from our Freedom Fighters, when civil disobedience was confronted with state violations. The above rational and form of resistance was envisioned when the United Nations codified the additional protocol I and II to the Geneva Convention of 1977. President Jimmy Carter signed it into law at the time when Andrew Young was US ambassador to the U.N. Under various International experience many other internal conflicts have used similar a TRC processes from 1974 to 1999, see Priscilla B. Haynor Fifteen Truth Commission human right quarterly 597 (1994) with different formulas and standards So again, the principles that qualify our political prisoners and prisoners of war as candidates for amnesty, stem from the South African concept of a political offense drafted by Carl Aage Noorgard, a Danish national and president of the European Commission on Human rights, the foundation he drafted as guidelines defining the concept of political prisoners for use in the Namibia Settlement to be applied in a context of reconciliation. The qualifications were based on the concept of political offenses found in extradition law. The concept adopted by the South African TRC in 1990. Full disclosure in 1986, during the trial of Dr. Mutulu Shakur and Marilyn Buck, revolutionary armed task force “Brinks” case Mutulu Shakur and Black/New Afrikan PP’s were at that time defining a process searching for a standard that would parallel our POW petition submission to the trial court Judge Charles Haight, hoping for a jury charge that would allow the jury to consider political motive and the political nature of the acts charged in the indictment. Political offense exceptions are the International test that establishes the political offense as distinguished from criminal acts vs. political crimes. There are two types of political offenses exceptions. The first types includes “pure” political offenses that involve acts directed solely against the state such as treason, espionage, and sedition. And there are “relative” political offenses in which the act is a common crime that is connected with a political act, making the entire offense political. We set before the court in our POW Political Offense Exception to Extradition (POEE) petition two interrelated but distinct arguments: (1) The prisoners of war petition applied to Dr. Shakur; and (2) the applicability to present indictment (1981) against both defendants of the political offense exception. He requested the court to address the proposed relief for each argument separately. The government response is instructive. The court ordered the government to answer issues about whether the 1977 protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions on Prisoners of War (16 UST 3316 TIAS No. 3364) are applicable and whether it would be appropriate for the court to evaluate the act charged as part of an armed conflict. In our cases, the prosecution’s witness had testified to the completely political goals the participants in the alleged offenses held. Further, Judge Abraham Sofaer, legal adviser to the
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Department of State as well as attorney for the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense, answered Judge Charles Haight’s question rather than the criminal division of the United States Attorney Office. This indicated that the US executive branch recognized the intensely political context of the cases. The political offenses found in extradition law, we argued, should be the basis for the jury to determine the political motives. Both petitions were denied after a lengthy hearing, which addressed the third question the judge posed: “Was whether the 1977 protocol reflected the current state of International law on the issue of when prisoner of war status treaties such as the American Convention on Human Rights that afford even wider protection to those captured pursuant to armed conflict.” This is one example of the Black/New Afrikan political prisoner to define their principle motive and status in an attempt to embrace a process that establishes an objective criteria for political motive and a class of Black/New Afrikan Freedom Fighters under International standards. The list of the honorable PPs and POWs who helped to prepare the above POW and POEE is an indication of the comprehensive voice for such a strategy. If we look at the guidelines of the Norgaard Principles there are few distinctions between the two applications, the US Black/New Afrikan PPs and POW and the South African process. Norgaard Principles: Motivation of the offender Circumstances Nature of the political objectives Legal and factual nature of the offenses The object of the offense The relationship between the offense and its political objective (directness, proximity, proportionality) Act’s requirement: it is an act associated with a political objective committed in the course of the conflict of the past and applicants have made a full disclosure of relevant facts. It covers deeds against the state and acts of liberation organizations, against each other, acts of state against liberation movements, and acts of state against other states. It includes armed and security forces of the state, as well as Inter-organizational conflict acts. However, the act excludes offense committed for personal gain or out of personal malice. Our brief was prepared by Mutulu Shakur, Marilyn Buck, and their allies and comrades listed below: 1. Elmer Geronimo Pratt, San Quentin State Prison 2. Albert Nuh Washington, Albern State Prison 3. Sekou Abdullah Odinga, Leavenworth Federal Prison 4. Cecilio Chui Ferguson-El, Lewisberg Federal Prison 5. Susan Rosenberg, Lexington Kentucky Federal Prison
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6. David Gilbert, Clinton State Prison In 1986, we stated the objective of the PPs and POW, POEE application. We present this brief in the interest of all political prisoners, freedom fighters, and prisoners of war who have been denied the protection of international law and have unjustly suffered criminalization due to their participation in the liberation struggle. It is toward a just recognition of their sacrifices and just resolution of this conflict that this brief is filed. Dr. Mutulu Shakur. April 27, 1988 There are still very pressing material conditions that our people face that must be resolved. The TRC is not to be the answer for the overall struggle. The struggle will continue in whatever form the people will. The outstanding issue of reconciliation will be the question of reparations and the freedom of our political prisoners. Barack Obama’s election has established a symbolic milestone in the minds and hearts of our people, a view of a new political reality that changes the narrative of the Black liberation movement. Will. I think it also provides a strong case for a TRC argument that addresses the BLM (Black Liberation Movement) decade of conflict we fought in the liberation struggle. So how do we distinguish our TRC process from the ongoing political prisoners defense committee work, can we realize a vertical approach? The mantra “search for the truth and closure” our vision of TRC through its amnesty process is /could be statutorily permitted to intervene in the judicial process both procedurally and substantively, as in Mumia Abu Jamal case, which seems to have run its legal course procedurally. The commission would not be a substitute for criminal justice. It is not a judicial body where the objective is to dispute legal justice. The commission serves a specific political objective as the product of a negotiated settlement with the granting of amnesty for acts of past as it’s control point. The alternative dispute mechanism functions as an alternative to the judicial process aiming to achieve a solution that offers something to both parties, but not determining which of the parties is the “winner”. I define the ADM again because I know it’s a great political lead that must be weighed strategically. The TRC generally is not the conventional alternative dispute mechanism from this stage in our conflict. Human Rights violations which included murders, torture, illegal detention, COINTELPRO, low-intensity warfare, are all acts by agents of the government they could/would receive amnesty with this process. The act charged against our PPs and POWs, our exiles and freedom fighters could as well receive amnesty under reconciliation. The questions: Do we have the political capital to convince the Black legislature?
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Do we impact the masses of Black people that such a process and resolution is in our best interest and that it honors our struggle? Is the Obama factor a realistic change in the political narrative to push for TRC at this time if not, when? Can we have a broader coalition to promote the process among the younger generation? Can we build a strong interfaith coalition? Personalities that have demonstrated interest in the question of PP’s and POW must be surveyed. As I’ve said before the Brother Charles Barron, Irv Joyner, North Carolina, TRC, sister Cynthia McKinney, Sister Maxine Waters, Quincy Jones, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, we are standing in a special place in history, this process will take hard work internally and externally. Finally, “it is said in the bible in the book of Leviticus, that every 50 years prisoners should be freed and all debts forgiven, this is the 50th anniversary of the freedom fighters. Nations neglect no people more shamefully than the heroes of their wars - are we a Black Nation? Will we do the same? Stiff Resistance, Dr. Mutulu Shakur
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BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY BAMN Staff: Makungu Akinyela Noel Didla Ifetayo Flannery Nyeusi Jami Edward Onaci kwame-osagyefo kalimara Gus Wood
Contributors: Halima Olufemi Mutulu Shakur Vickie Casanova-Willis
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