International struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Petition: International campaign for a civil rights investigation of the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Oct 17, 2010
A critical hearing is scheduled Nov. 9 in the nearly three-decade-old case
of journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who sits on death row in
Pennsylvania. Mumia was severely wounded and arrested on Dec. 9, 1981, in
Philadelphia and was later charged, tried and convicted of the murder of police
officer Daniel Faulkner.
After a grossly unjust prosecution was carried out in 1982, Mumia, a former
Black Panther Party leader and MOVE organization supporter, was given the death
penalty. Although Mumia’s death sentence was subsequently overturned, the
prosecution has repeatedly attempted to reinstate the penalty and carry out his
A Jan. 19 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the 3rd U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals to reconsider the 2001 and 2008 decisions that rescinded the
death penalty in Abu-Jamal’s case. There is an ongoing campaign by law
enforcement agencies across the country to pressure the courts into carrying
out Mumia’s execution.
An international defense campaign for both Abu-Jamal’s freedom and the
elimination of the U.S. death penalty has grown since the early 1980s. The
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, MOVE and other
organizations have been consistent over the years in fighting not only to save
the life of this award-winning writer and hero to millions around the globe,
but to raise the profile of other political prisoners incarcerated in the
Two death warrants were signed for Mumia: one in 1995 and another in 1999.
Both warrants were stayed by the courts after campaigns to save Mumia’s
life mobilized people from all over the U.S. and the world.
A key element in building massive support was the role played by activists,
journalists, trade unionists, intellectuals and political officials in Western
Europe, Africa, Japan and other parts of the globe.
Leading figures such as former South African President Nelson Mandela and
his ruling African National Congress, along with former Archbishop Desmond
Tutu, demanded that the scheduled execution be stopped. These developments took
place in the aftermath of the defeat of the racist apartheid systems in South
Africa and Namibia, in which people in the U.S. and all over the world had
Mumia’s articles, interviews and books have been published in numerous
countries and have served to win further support for his release as well as the
abolition of the U.S. death penalty, which has for more than a century been
implemented in a racist and class-oriented manner. In Mumia’s case, the
fact that he had been a leading member of the Black Panther Party in
Philadelphia was used during the penalty phase of his trial to place him on
European Union discusses Mumia’s case
The death penalty in the U.S. has gained attention in recent weeks due to
the execution of two mentally disabled inmates: Teresa Lewis of Virginia and
Holly Wood of Alabama. At present 35 states in the U.S. still have the death
penalty, although four have not carried out any executions since 1976, when the
practice was reinstituted after it was overturned in 1972.
The Obama administration is not opposed to the death penalty and has not
spoken out about the executions in Alabama and Virginia.
The European Union foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton was recently urged
to raise the U.S. death penalty, along with the plight of Abu-Jamal. In a
European parliamentary debate on Oct. 6, Danish Member of European Parliament
Soren Sondergaard stated that he “deplored” the execution of
defenseless inmates, including Abu-Jamal.
Sondergaard noted: “The death penalty itself is a crime. But it is
often more than that; waiting on death row in miserable conditions for years is
torture. Capital punishment is also a form of terror, used to frighten people
from resisting oppression and dictatorship.
“African-American journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal — the voice of the
voiceless — is a key symbol of struggle against the death penalty. For
nearly 30 years he has sat on death row, convicted in a trial notable for its
errors and racism. High representative Ashton should raise the case with U.S.
authorities — in the fight against the death penalty there is no room for
double standards. In the fight against the death penalty there applies only one
standard: unconditional rejection.” (The Parliament, Oct. 7)
The European Parliament passed a resolution Oct. 2 opposing the executions
of both Mumia Abu-Jamal and Troy Davis of Georgia. Davis, who has also won
international support, remains on death row for a crime he did not commit.
German Left Party delegate Sabine Loesing was pleased that the resolution
passed with broad support. She said she would make sure that adequate pressure
was placed on Ashton’s office to raise this issue during meetings with
the Obama administration. (www.sabine-loesing.de, Oct. 9)