NoFlyby Alert - Leonard Peltier
Date sent: Thu, 8 Oct 1998
Dear NoFlyby friends, members of Congress, UN Delegates, heads of state and media,
Recently, the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee requested support for nonviolent civil disobedient actions to help Native American activist and artist Leonard Peltier be released from federal prison, where he has been held for the last twenty-two years without any evidence indicating that he's the person who murdered the two FBI agents. November 19, 1998, will mark five years since the filing of Leonard Peltier's executive clemency petition. This process usually takes six to nine months to gain a response. Clearly, the Federal government is continuing to stonewall with regard to this egregious injustice.
Currently Leonard Peltier's health is severely poor. Due to a jaw operation, he is in constant excruciating pain, he cannot open his mouth enough to bite or chew his food but rather must sip it through a small gap between his teeth and mash it with his tongue. Prison officials have denied him access to health services with Dr. Keller at the Mayo clinic and Leonard refuses to go back to the Springfield clinic. Leonard's condition could prove to be life-threatening due to the possibility of infection.
This is a crucial time for anyone to lend support to Leonard Peltier's plight. When any other country treats its political prisoners this way, the brutality is correctly identified as a human rights violation. Peltier can be compared to Nelson Mandela: a leader of an oppressed population, unjustly incarcerated to enforce silence.
The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC) Web site is the best place to go for more information on this issue: http://members.xoom.com/freepeltier/index.html. (The NoFlyby site will offer a link to LPDC in our "Support Organizations Endorsing NoFlyby" area.)
Below is my letter to the editor of our local newspaper, where I am helping to organize an action on December 19, 1998. I hope there will be many events uniting our commitment for justice and compassion for Leonard Peltier. Please consider what you may do on December 19 to support this important human rights and justice action. Other nonviolent civil disobedient actions are scheduled that day in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and many small towns joining this spirit of the holidays to help free Leonard Peltier from prison. These actions for justice, democracy in action and for human rights could be just what we need to realize peace in space and justice for all.
With best regards, Jonathan M. Haber
Faxed to the Greenfield Recorder, October 6, 1998
Two years ago I went to Washington, D.C. for a press conference at the Capitol on the issue of Leonard Peltier. Senator Inouye addressed Congress that day in an eloquent plea for justice, responding to the concerns of many about decency, fairness and justice. Since that time, Leonard came before another parole board hearing, after twenty-two years in federal prison, undergoing a medical crisis, he got tetanus as a child. His treatment in prison has made it worse. Prison guards kept him in the "hole" in isolation before surgery and afterwards the pain to Leonard in his jaw was almost unbearable. Prison officials are denying him access of another facility and doctor, one who knows of Leonard's condition and is willing to help him. The major irony of all this harsh treatment is that there is no evidence suggesting that Leonard Peltier actually shot the two agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation. To the contrary, they proved his shotgun not to be the one used. I understand the upset of the families and the FBI in response to this "execution style" murder. Another person involved died that day, a native American. Also, there were 23 unsolved homicides on the reservation, which was why members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) were asked to come. What makes this story even more scary is that this was going on during the FBI COINTEL campaign, which Edgar Hoover initiated. This policy deliberately crossed boundaries of what is "legal" to infiltrate and destroy groups that the FBI deemed as "subversive." Some of these groups targeted were the Black Panthers, AIM, Students of a Democratic Society (SDS) and I believe some women's groups. As an American I feel human empathy knowing of Leonard's condition and can inwardly feel what he may be going through. The suffering of Leonard Peltier is also the suffering of all of us. My feelings are that we are all somehow interlinked.
There is a lot more history on this case posted at the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee website http://members.xoom.com/freepeltier/index.html . I hope many of you saw the CBS TV "Sixty Minutes" segment on Leonard done a while ago where they interviewed the woman that the FBI coerced into giving them a false affidavit to extradite Leonard from Canada to the U.S. Before Leonard was tried before "hand picked" judges and courts, three other suspects that the FBI held as "responsible" for their agent's deaths, were all acquitted under the evidence of self defense.
For those interested, this Columbus Day, October 12, which many hope to change to "Indigenous People's Day," there will be a meeting on an action requested by Leonard and the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee at the Unitarian Church across from the Library at Main and Hope streets in Greenfield, [MA, USA] from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
Best regards, Jonathan
ps: I hope this letter can be published before Monday's meeting at the Unitarian Church. If not, please announce the additional meetings planned for the Jones Library's main meeting room in Amherst, MA Tuesday, November 3 from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. and at the Common Ground Restaurant in Brattleboro, VT, Thursday, November 5, from 7:00 P.M. - 9:30 P.M.
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