Friends & Comrades:
For decades, I have been fighting for the amnesty and freedom of not only myself, but all U.S. political prisoners. Back in 1977, as part of initiating the first national prisoners’ petition campaign to the United Nations and establishing the first national prisoners’ newspaper “Arm the Spirit,” I wrote and distributed a call for a national organization—Political Prisoners Revolutionary Solidarity Movement (PPRSM). Unfortunately, that call to action was premature, and activists failed to respond in any appreciable numbers. The general support base for PPs at that time was sectarian and divided on political lines of whether one was a revolutionary nationalist, Marxist-Leninist or Maoist.
After being paroled from San Quentin and moved to NYS apartheid prison system, I wrote and had published, with assistance from Attorney Bob Boyle (editing) and PFOC (publishing), a pamphlet titled “A Case Against United States Domestic (Neo) Colonialism—for the National POW Amnesty Campaign.” That pamphlet provided both legal and political analysis and explanation of the importance of petitioning the United Nations to redress U.S. failure to give recognition to the existence of political prisoners, and for our demand for amnesty.
By 1980, the United Nations International Jurists toured the U.S., interviewing a selective group of U.S. political prisoners, and then reported to a U.N. Special Subcommittee that political prisoners do exist in the U.S. Some of those same political prisoners still languish in prison. … A year prior to the International Jurists tour, then-President Jimmy Carter fired his U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young for his response to the question that I asked a journalist to pose to him: “Are there political prisoners in the U.S.?” He answered, “Yes, perhaps thousands.” (Ironically, now former President Jimmy Carter wrote a letter to former President Obama to grant clemency to Oscar Lopez Rivera. I wonder, did he ever offer an apology to Andrew Young?)
Fast forward to 1997-98. I made the call for the Jericho March in Washington in support of U.S. political prisoners, and more than 6,000 activists across the country responded. Beloved comrades Safiya Asya Bukhari and Baba Herman Ferguson organized this national determination culminating with the advent of the Jericho Amnesty Movement.
Next year will mark the 20th Anniversary of the Jericho Amnesty Movement. Jericho has gone under several leadership changes after the demise of Sister Safiya and Baba Herman. Jericho has provided political prisoners with legal support, medical assistance, and political campaign solidarity. Jericho continues to raise the existence of U.S. political prisoners to the international community, building solidarity with political prisoner support groups around the world, and petitioning United Nations forums.
However, unfortunately, the U.S. progressive community has yet to provide Jericho the essential support necessary to ensure Jericho’s growth, development and capacity to represent U.S. Political Prisoners to the best of its ability. This lack of support and solidarity generally weakens the overall political prisoner support movement, negatively impacting the fight to win amnesty and freedom for political prisoners.
As we approach the 20th Anniversary of the Jericho Amnesty Movement, I personally request all those who have a copy of my book “We Are Our Own Liberators” to read the chapter “A Case Against United States Domestic (Neo) Colonialism” (pages 41-60), and if possible make a copy of the chapter and post online if you agree with what was written over 35 years ago is relevant today in our continued fight to win amnesty and freedom for our political prisoners. Furthermore, I ask that you contact Jericho Amnesty Movement representatives across the country to learn how you can support our collective capacity to support political prisoners.
Our collective determination has not diminished. Recognizing we are entering a new phase of repression, we must come to terms that a greater potential exists for more activists to become political prisoners. It is incumbent on all of us to anticipate these developments and adapt to the changing political environment. While our successes have been few and far between, the Jericho Amnesty Movement has been a constant, a 20-year national determination that will always represent the best character of our class and national liberation struggles—the character and principles of the indomitable revolutionary spirits of our political prisoners.
In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela
in Apartheid NYS Prison System
Jalil A. Muntaqim
Jan. 30, 2017, Southport