RN: prisoners


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,   Oct. 10

In this posting I would like to share with you some ways you can DO
something about some particular prisoners. 

I know that taking up individual cases seems like a miserable drop in the
bucket compared to the many, many worthy cases out there. And we are all so
busy, aren't we?... But still, working for individual people, for particular
spaces, programs or whatever, is where much of our real success can come.
And I think it is good for our "health" to take up individual cases. In this
way, we can share more closely the feelings and realities of people (and
maybe other beings too) in very different circumstances from our own.

In the latest issue of _Press for Conversion_, (put out by the Ottawa,
(Canada)-based Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade
<http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/coat>) there is an ad for _The Nuclear
Resister_, a publication with information about and support for imprisoned
anti-nuclear & anti-war activists. (action reports and future actions,
prisoner support info, writings from jail, etc.) Subscriptions: US $15/yr
(US $20 in Canada, US $25 overseas) ASK FOR A FREE SAMPLE ISSUE. POB 43383,
Tuscon, AZ 85733 USA <•••@••.•••>.

Amnesty International is a natural place for people to become involved in
human rights work. (People can contact local Amnesty International groups in
almost any country in the world.)

Science for Peace has a working group on human rights and can supply anyone
who would like to send letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience e-mail
messages with the pertinent information. If you could help, please contact
Eric Fawcett at <•••@••.•••>. (A recent posting provides
information about
"scores of individuals arrested in Libya in June 1998". Among those arrested
were university lecturers, engineers, medical doctors, and civil servants.
"They are at risk of torture.")

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a black activist and journalist on death row in a
Pennsylvania state penitentiary. I haven't been able to find out WHY but he
has obviously become a "lightening rod" for the whole discussion around the
death penalty and racial and political bias in the US judicial system. 

The Bruderhof's Plough book service offers his _Dearth Blossoms_
(reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience) for sale. Here are some of the
endorsements for his book:

_The Boston Globe_: Uncompromising, disturbing... Abu-Jamal's voice has the
clarity and candor of a man whose impending death emboldens him to say what
is on his mind without fear of consequence.

Mark McClain Taylor (Princeton Theol. Seminary): From his death row cell
Abu-Jamal lets loose a word-river of justice to purge our land of its deadly
mixture of Christendom, corporate greed, and government graft. Dare to wade
in the waters of this book.

John Edgar Wideman (author, _The Cattle Killing_): If Mumia Abu-Jamal has
nothing important to say, why are so many powerful people trying to kill him
and shut him up? Read him.

To order the book, visit the Plough Books web site: www.plough.com/catalog
or call 1-800-521-8081. Plough Publishing House, Rte. 381 North, Farmington,
PA 15437.

        One of the people who fully intended to come to the workshop on
globalization we had in Bear River this summer is Lois Cape, a woman who
scrapes by on welfare and devotes much of her energies to being a link
between "people on the inside", especially native prisoners, and people "on
the outside". (In the end Lois couldn't come; her house burned down!)

One of the prisoners she works with, David Maltby or Ne Wa Gwa Ri Tsi Ron
Gwa Te Gon (Two Hearts Bear), has a special interest in globalization. Here
is a poem he wrote about it:


Suppose for a moment (pray, humour the poet),
That we voted on progress, decided to slow it,
Perhaps let technology be for a while - 
A little less content, a little more style.
Suppose we decided to heal Mother Earth, 
Gave more thought to our promise and less to our worth -
Made famine and plague the intolerable foes, 
And people the interest to compound and grow.
Suppose that (oh come now it's only a dream),
We made life more... tranquil, and savor'd the cream -
Concerned less with prestige and power than, say, roses, 
(Much better for hearts, not to mention our noses.)
and who knows in process what we might discover
Progress for real, is to love one another.

                                DCM  '98

Lois wrote about David:

David has been an activist all his life, a survivor in a world that seemed
against him from the start. His priorities have always been the children,
the elders, the hungry, and the homeless. His actions on their behalf,
brought on by impatience when battering at the walls of an uncaring social
system, have been the cause of his many incarcerations. One such incident
was protrayed in the movie "April One", where David held the Bahamian
Vice-consul hostage for several hours in order to obtain proper shelters for
homeless mothers and children on the streets of Ottawa - this after all
attempts at doing it "the right way", through the churches and city hall,
etc., had failed.

David is now serving a life sentence in Millhaven, near Kingston, the prison
capital of Canada....

David is a published poet. Some of his poems can be found in Joel Maki's
anthology, _Let the Drums Be Your Heart_. ...

David needs not so much "pen pals" as such, but support, to know that there
are still people out there fighting for the right things, for the good of all.

                        Lois Cape (David's "Little Sister")

I wrote to David (D. Maltby, Millhaven Institution, Box 280, Bath, Ont.
Canada KOH 1GO) and here is part of his reply:

"To me it is very fundamental -- enough 'haves' have to reach out to enough
'have nots' to make a difference. Four or five neighbours in a living room,
ten people in a library or church meeting room -- 50 people at a rally.
Letters, flyers, information and action sessins. I can't get subtle or
wordily cute about a kid starving to death because some jerk with no
conscience and a little power is playing political piggly wiggly. And
considering the situation I'm in, I have no right at all to preach - lord
knows I took one too many short cuts and dicey paths. No one to emulate -
just a man that cares big time and wants others who will and can to get
motivated to act. 

So I wish you well - and if you find any of my writing useful by all means
use it.
                        God bless, 
                                        Two Hearts Bear"

        Leonard Peltier is a widely known political prisoner who was, I am
certain, framed by the FBI. I include the following information about him
even though it has > marks. (Please, if you send things for the RN list (or
any other list for that matter) copy the postings into new messages rather
than just forwarding them. Taking the > marks out is tedious and reading
messages that have these marks is tedious too!)

all the best, Jan
Date: Thu, 08 Oct 1998 19:37:41 -1000
From: viviane lerner <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fwd: NoFlyby Alert - Leonard Peltier

>From: •••@••.•••
>Date: Fri, 9 Oct 1998 00:05:49 -0400 (EDT)
>Subject: NoFlyby Alert - Leonard Peltier
>Dear NoFlyby friends, members of Congress, UN Delegates, heads of state and
>        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
>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
>        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
>        NoFlyby Coordinator
>        http://www.nonviolence.org/noflyby
>Faxed to the Greenfield Recorder, October 6, 1998
>>Dear Editor:
>    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,
>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.