The Revolutionary Worker
newspaper received this statement from political prisoners at Leavenworth. We are making
it available to all participants of Jericho 98.
Jericho 98 Thoughts from
Political Prisoners in Leavenworth
JERICHO 98 as many people already know and we hope many more soon will know
is the nationwide March 27th rally in Washington DC, calling for the
recognition and release of all political prisoners in America. In these remaining weeks
before the rally, wed like to make a specific appeal to all justice and freedom
loving people to seriously make the, acknowledgedly costly and significant, effort to come
to Washington on March 27.
Here are some of the principal reasons we think this rally is so important. By
important we mean not only for us, the political prisoners, but for the Freedom Struggle
- Americas political prisoners have been in captivity a long, long time. The
approximately 200 political prisoners, and the fact that there is no complete listing of
political prisoners is another sign of the lack of significant public awareness and low
priority that many otherwise progressive and revolutionary organizations give to this
issue, have all been locked up for 12, 15, 20, 25 and more years. For example, BLA and
Black Panther Sundiata Acoli has been in prison for 25 years. Ruchell Magee, close comrade
of long ago assassinated author and revolutionary George Jackson, has been in prison for
over 30 years! American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier has been in captivity for
over 22 years. The 15 Puerto Rican independentistas have been behind walls for 18 years.
North American social justice activist Bill Dunne has 19 years in prison.
Two separate International Tribunals, empanelled under the authority of universally
recognized international law and procedure, have heard the specific cases of over 100
American political prisoners and called for the U.S. government to release us. The
"Special International Tribunal on the Violation of Human Rights of Political
Prisoners and Prisoners of War in United States Prisons and Jails," convened and
heard testimony in New York City in December 1990. The "International Tribunal of
Indigenous Peoples and Oppressed Nationalities in the USA," convened and heard
testimony in San Francisco in October of 1992.
From Guatemala to Cuba to South Africa and many other countries, political prisoners
are being released and the U.S. government has publicly and positively commented on these
moves. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa is even pardoning the
confessed police torturers and murderers of leaders like Steve Biko. Yet anti-apartheid
activists in the U.S. continue to languish in prison, unseen, locked down and with no
foreseeable release dates for decades to come.
- JERICHO 98 is especially significant because it is the first national demonstration in
support of political prisoners in the U.S. in modern history. This rally has the potential
to make a major political impact on the government, the media, the public and even the
international community. The larger the turnout, the more the impact.
- The U.S. government pontificates and browbeats countries all over the world about
political prisoners. Yet within its own madly expanding prison system, the U.S. denies the
very existence of political prisoners. We must and can call the government to account for
- The reality that political prisoners, activists and freedom fighters of the 60s, 70s,
and 80s have been locked down for decades has to weigh heavily on the minds of at least
some present-day activists. Its only logical for people to speculate and worry that
they too could wind up buried and perhaps forgotten in prison for their activism.
- JERICHO 98 will aid all political prisoners held by the U.S. Some more well known cases
like Leonard Peltier or the 15 Puerto Rican anti-colonial activists, have active amnesty
petitions in front of Clinton. Most of us dont have actual petitions or the public
campaigns necessary to launch an amnesty effort, but the JERICHO rally will benefit us
- We are women and men, fathers, mothers, spouses, children of aging parents, some of whom
have passed in our years of captivity. We are some of the people who opposed colonialism
and the war in Vietnam, fought for justice, equality, human and economic rights, and for a
peaceful world. Its time to recognize our existence and bring us back to our
families and communities.
Come to Washington on March 27
Help blow the JERICHO horn for justice and freedom.
Leavenworth federal prison
Jaan Karl Laaman, Ohio 7 political prisoner in captivity since 1984
Tom Manning, Ohio 7 political prisoner in captivity since 1985
Leonard Peltier, AIM political prisoner in captivity since 1976
Luis Rosa, Puerto Rican POW in captivity since 1981
This message is posted on the internet, on the RW Online at rwor.org