Archive for May, 2017

Oscar Lopez Rivera Vows to Continue Fight for Puerto Rico Independence

May 31, 2017

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Oscar-Lopez-Vows-to-Continue-Fight-for-Puerto-Rico-Independence-20170517-0013.html

oscar-lopez-rivera Vows to Continue Fight for Puerto Rico Independence

The former political prisoner thanked progressive movements for supporting his decades-long struggle for a free Puerto Rico.

In his first hours of freedom after 36 years behind bars in U.S. prison, Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar Lopez Rivera vowed Wednesday to continue to fight for the freedom and independence of Puerto Rico while expressing solidarity with progressive movements across the Americas.

RELATED:
Who Is Puerto Rico’s Oscar Lopez Rivera?

“During the years I was jailed I always thought I would return home,” Lopez said during a press conference in San Juan with the ocean at his back, thanking all the progressive organizations and world leaders who supported him and worked for his release over the years.

“You have a Puerto Rican that has never promoted sectarianism. I come here to fight and work, that’s what I know how to do,” Lopez Rivera said. “We can make Puerto Rico the nation that it has the potential to be.”

The life-long freedom fighter for Puerto Rico’s decolonization and independence thanked Pope Francis, Argentina’s Grandmothers and Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, former Uruguayan President Jose “Pepe” Mujica, the governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, as well as artists, activists and especially youth and children.

It is is them who have in their hands the future of our country,” said Lopez Rivera, dressed in black to represent his mourning for the friends and relatives who died while he was in jail for the past 36 years and to whom he never had a chance to say goodbye.

He also spoke out about the harsh austerity currently policies rocking the island in the face of a crippling debt crisis, stressing the importance of funding public education and applauding Puerto Rican students for being on the front lines of the struggle to defend education and resist colonial relations with Washington.

ANALYSIS:
Oscar Lopez Rivera’s Puerto Rico Independence Fight Lives On

“Unity will make decolonization possible, there is no other option,” Lopez Rivera said. “Loving our country doesn’t cost anything — what will cost us is to lose it.”

He also thanked Venezuela and all “those who defend the Bolivarian Revolution” and called for the U.S. to end its interference in the nation.

“I ask the U.S. to stop interfering in Venezuela, to stop using people and structures to reach countries and create a hostile environment with violence, and to have people lose because in the end it’s the people who lose.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was the first world leader to talk to Lopez Rivera and told him in a phone call Wednesday he wanted to thank the activist for his strength and kindness in his struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico.

“A big hug — it was very touching to see you with you family,” Maduro said to Lopez Rivera. “Long live a free Puerto Rico, long live dignity.”

Lopez Rivera, in return, thanked Maduro for his support throughout the long process of waiting for his freedom.

“I feel Puerto Rican, but I also feel Venezuelan,” Lopez Rivera said to the president. “The truth of Venezuela will prevail, we are sure it will prevail, we hope the U.S. can’t do what it has in mind and what it aspires to do.”

Lopez Rivera also criticized the financial oversight board put in place last year by U.S. Congress through the controversial law known as PROMESA to restructure the island’s debt. He said that nothing that comes out of the oversight board — which has been widely criticized for undermining Puerto Rico’s democracy and deepening colonialism — will be good for the island nation since it promotes sweeping privatization and gives benefits to international companies instead of small farmers in the country.

“They made us their guinea pig to do experiments and make us poorer,” he said.

Lopez Rivera’s daughter Clarisa Lopez Ramos thanked the worldwide support for her father and for the fight to protect the island’s main public post-secondary education institution, the 70,000-student University of Puerto Rico, as it faces massive cuts as part of a harsh austerity plan to tackle the island’s massive debt load.

RELATED:
Puerto Rico’s Oscar Lopez Freed After 36 Years in US Prison

“The daughters and sons of Oscar are the students at the University of Puerto Rico, resisting and fighting,” said Lopez Ramos, referring to the student movements that have launched strikes and other actions to protest the cuts. “Thank you, my dad returned home.”

A celebratory concert attended by thousands of Puerto Ricans is underway in Rio Piedras featuring artists, musicians and prominent individuals welcoming Lopez Rivera home.

Lopez Rivera returned to the island in February to serve out the final weeks before his freedom Wednesday on house arrest after former President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in January.

The activist thanked former U. S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who commuted the sentences of Puerto Rican political prisoners.

Recalling when he declined Clinton’s 1999 offer for a pardon, the activist said he rejected it since other comrades were still jailed under poor conditions. “I believe in principles, and I believe in not leaving anyone behind.”

Finally, he said he will tour the 78 municipalities of the island now that he is free, as he has promised in the past.

“Long live Puerto Rico, of love and liberty!” Lopez Rivera said. “Always in resistance and struggle!”

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Posted by: info@freemumia.com

Photos from May 30 March in Philly Demanding DA Hand Over Files

May 31, 2017

 

From Joe Piette:

Supporters for Mumia Abu-Jamal’s freedom rallied in front of the Philly DA’s office on May 30, with signs and speakers demanding all the files for him and 13 other prisoners be released. The rally was followed by a march to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Fox News, where march representatives demanded these news outlets cover this important issue.

Photos can be seen here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ 109799466@N06/albums/ 72157681398355714

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Posted by: info@freemumia.com

TAKE ACTION for Anti-Imperialist Political Prisoner Jaan Laaman

May 8, 2017
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This is from the Break the Chains list.
, Locked in Solitary Confinement and Facing Repression for Speaking Out for Human Rights
Jaan K. Laaman, long-time anti-imperialist political prisoner, is currently solitary confinement (“the hole”). Jaan has been in solitary confinement since his birthday on March 21, 2017 simply for issuing two political statements, a clear violation of free speech and human rights. [More details below.]
How you can support Jaan:
Write to Jaan and let him know he’s in our hearts and on our minds.
Jaan has no access to news and almost no access to phone calls. It’s important we send him some letters right now. Send him articles, so that he gets some world news.
Jaan Karl Laaman #10372-016
USP Tucson
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734
Write and call the Warden and ask him to end the repression against Jaan.
Please write and call the Warden at USP Tucson and ask that Jaan be released from solitary confinement and that he not be punished for expressing his support for women’s rights and for writing a statement mourning the passing of his friend, Lynne Stewart. Remind the Warden that Jaan is an elder prisoner, and you’re concerned about his health in solitary confinement and you would be concerned about his safety if he is moved to another prison.
Warden
USP – Tucson
9300 South Wilmot Road
Tucson, AZ 85756
1email#c TCP/ExecAssistant@bop.gov
Phone: 520-663-5000
Fax: 520-663-5024
You can also contact:
Mary M. Mitchell, Regional Director
BOP Regional Office
7338 Shoreline Drive
Stockton, CA 95219
Regional email: wxro/execassistant@bop.gov
Thomas R. Kane, Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Central Office HQ
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534
Background Information
Jaan is imprisoned at United States Penitentiary (USP) Tucson in Arizona, and is one of the last two remaining Ohio-7 political prisoners still locked up. The Ohio-7 were convicted in 1986 of direct actions to protest U.S. support for the white-supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa, illegal U.S. attacks on Nicaragua, and repression against advocates for Puerto Rican self-determination.
Jaan was placed into solitary confinement because of two short messages: one in support of the “Day Without a Woman Strike” (International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017) which was printed in the NYC Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) update, and his “Farewell Thoughts to My Friend, Lynne Stewart” which was broadcast on Prison Radio. Lynne Stewart, revolutionary peoples’ lawyer passed away on March 8, 2017. When the NYC ABC magazine arrived by mail to the prison, Jaan was promptly placed in solitary confinement. Prison officials charged Jaan with “threatening the security of the prison” because of these First Amendment protected statements.
No one should be punished for exercising their First Amendment Rights. The United States District Court in Pennsylvania recently ruled in a case involving efforts to censure Mumia Abu-Jamal: “A past criminal offense does not extinguish a person’s constitutional right to free expression. The First Amendment does not disappear at the prison gate.”
Pattern of Increasing Repression
Being placed in solitary confinement is the latest act of repression by the prison administration, following increasing actions against Jaan. Over a year ago, the prison shut down Jaan’s access to email, and they have been censoring him in various ways since then, including withholding his mail and limiting access to his lawyer.
Jaan was placed in solitary confinement on his birthday and has been there ever since. There is a growing consensus as to the psychological harm caused by solitary confinement. In 2011 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture concluded that solitary confinement for more than 15 days constitutes torture and can cause irreversible harmful psychological effects.
Jaan previously wrote about the increasing censorship he has been facing, here. Jaan has been writing reflections about global events since he was first captured in 1984, so this level of censorship is certainly something new and different.
This update was written by friends of Jaan Laaman.
Facebook: Free Jaan Laaman

court victory for mumia

May 4, 2017
Important court victory for Mumia Abu-jamal.
download (20)
Here’s a very important report from Rachel Wolkenstein on a critical victory for Mumia based on a decision a few days ago of the Post Conviction Relief Act  Judge Leon Tucker. Tucker heard Mumia’s request for a new hearing on April 24. A few days later he concurred with a courtroom motion by Mumia’s attorney for discovery of critical evidence that could lead to a new trial.
 
In solidarity, Jeff Mackler, Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
First Legal Step Won in Mumia’s New Challenge to his Conviction!
By Rachel Wolkenstein
Just days after the DA’s office argued Mumia’s new legal challenge should be dismissed for not being “timely” and that the precedent setting case of Williams v Pennsylvania, that it is a violation of due process for a judge to rule in a case that he had previously had a significant personal involvement in a critical prosecutorial decision, does not apply to Mumia’s case, Judge Leon Tucker ruled in favor of Mumia’s demand for discovery of the DA’s files.
On April 24, Mumia’s 63rd birthday, the courtroom was filled with Mumia’s supporters and demonstrators rallied outside and all day and into the evening  demanding Mumia’s freedom. The DA’s office argued there was no evidence that PA Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille, who ruled on all of Mumia’s appeals from 1998-2008, had been involved in Mumia’s case while he was the District Attorney from 1986-1991 or as a senior district attorney during Mumia’s 1982 trial. Mumia’s attorney, Christina Swarns of the the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) spoke to the exceptional circumstances of Mumia’s case and that the Motion for Discovery should be granted to determine the particulars of Castille’s personal involvement in Mumia’s prosecution, including his appeals.
Judge Tucker did not rule for the prosecution and dismiss Mumia’s petition. He granted discovery and ordered the DA’s office to produce and turn over all records and memos regarding Castille’s involvement in Mumia’s case; pre-trial, trial, post-trial and direct appeal proceedings; communications between Castille and his staff and any public statements Castille made about Mumia’s case during or after his tenure as District Attorney of Philadelphia. These records are to be turned over to Mumia’s attorneys within 30 days, by May 30, 2017, and Mumia has fifteen days to file amendments to his post-conviction petition.
This is an unquestionable win for Mumia in the PA courts. It opens the prosecution files on Mumia’s case to him, for the first time, ever. The DA’s office will likely stall and appeal and we should be prepared for protestations that the records do not exist. This new legal proceeding is a path towards Mumia’s freedom; we can win Mumia’s freedom with mass international protest and publicity.