Thursday, January 10, 2008

Crimes of State

By Mumia Abu-Jamal
Crimes of State
{col. writ. 1/2/08} (c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal
A president is charged with violating the law and constitution of his country.
He is charged with opening the money pits of the nation to his cronies.
He is charged with approving the torturing of people in the name of a 'war on terror', listening to the phone calls of countless citizens and unleashing his hordes of malevolent minions against critics, journalists and opponents of his virtually imperial rule.
Am I describing a recent novel? For surely -- surely -- this can't be a real president, in a real country, facing real charges.
And yet, it is.
But not here.
It's in Peru, where Alberto K. Fujimori (once affectionately nicknamed 'El Chino' for his Asian features) faces a slew of criminal charges stemming from his years in power as president.
The former president faces charges from his 10 - year reign over Peru's version of a "dirty war" against virtually all opponents of the State. From armed combat against Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (known as the Tupamaros), to massacres of students and leftists by secret government death squads, the former president left behind him a legacy of blood.
In the twenty years of this long internal war, some 70,000 people lost their lives, according to the findings of a Peruvian government commission in 2003.
If convicted for his role in the carnage, Fujimori, now 69, faces 30 years in prison.
Why is this surprising?
Because, here, in the US, we see so much government immunity that the very notion of trying our presidents for war crimes, violations of international law, or even violations of the Constitution, seems the stuff of fiction.
The closest we have come, was at the resignation of Richard M. Nixon from the presidency, after impeachment was imminent. Not to worry. His successor, President Gerald R. Ford, granted him a pardon -- before he was even charged! And his crimes, which culminated in the Watergate scandal, are all but forgotten.
I saw a foreign news broadcast today (from China) which reported that a million people -- 1 million people -- had died in Iraq since the US invasion and occupation. A million people.
And yet, no crime. No impeachments. Indeed, there isn't even serious rap about either possibility. At the very hour of victory, when a so-called 'democratic' majority was granted majority power by an energized, and angry electorate, House Speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.Ca.) announced, "Impeachment is off the table." And so it has remained.
What can the world's sole remaining superpower learn from a relatively small, relatively poor, predominantly Indian nation on Latin America's west coast?
Apparently, not a damned thing.
--(c) '08 maj
[Source: Romero, Simon, "Ex-President Stands Trial In Edgy Peru," New York Times, Mon., Dec.10, 2007, p.A6.]
Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner in the United States, framed and in prison, with what could be the final decision on his legal appeals possibly coming down soon. That decision could give Mumia his freedom, a new trial, life in prison, or execution. It is time to turn up the heat against this injustice.
Free Mumia!

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