UN Official's Visit Strengthens Efforts to Free Leonard Peltier
On Jan. 24, 2014 UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya visited United States Penitentiary Coleman 1 in Florida to meet with American Indian political prisoner Leonard Peltier. Anaya concluded that "new consideration should be given to clemency.” Peltier, Anishinabe (Ojibwe) and Lakota and a member of the American Indian Movement, has been imprisoned for 37 years on false convictions of killing two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975. Peltier, a political prisoner, has always denied shooting the FBI agents. He symbolizes the long history of abuse and repression that indigenous people have endured.
Anaya’s visit is groundbreaking. While the United States initially voted against the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples it eventually signed on in 2010 with numerous signing statements. Anaya’s visit gives additional strength to the longstanding fight for justice for Leonard Peltier, which has been gaining momentum with recent statements from Amnesty International and the Rapporteur’s own written report in 2012, which said:
After a trial that has been criticized by many as involving numerous due process problems, Mr. Peltier was sentenced to two life sentences for murder, and has been denied parole on various occasions. Pleas for presidential consideration of clemency by notable individuals and institutions have not borne fruit. This further depletes the already diminished faith in the criminal justice system felt by many Indigenous Peoples throughout the country.
Anaya’s call echoes the late Nelson Mandela, the National Congress for American Indians, Assembly of First Nations, the U.S. Human Rights Network and countless others who have called for his release. We call on all readers to support the call for executive clemency by calling the White House weekly, signing one or more of the relevant petitions (see below), and helping to increase public awareness of Peltier’s situation.
- Indian Country Today Media Network: Anaya's Visit to Peltier Boosts Clemency Efforts
- Indian Country Today Media Network: Obama Should Free AIM Activist Leonard Peltier
- International Indian Treaty Council Press Release
- Lenoard Peltier Defense Offense Committee Press Release
Tushkahomma lives in Texas and is a member of Solidarity.