Thursday, October 14, 2010

Struggle to Free Mumia: EU Asked to Address PP's Plight

From: Pan-African News Wire
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International Struggle to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal: EU Asked to Address
Political Prisoner’s Plight

Hearing set for November 9 while supporters remain on world-wide alert

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
News Analysis

On November 9, 2010 a critical hearing is scheduled in the nearly
three decade-old case of journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who
still sits on death row in the state of Pennsylvania. Mumia was
severely wounded and arrested on December 9, 1981 in Philadelphia and
was later charged, tried and convicted of the murder of police officer
Daniel Faulkner.

A grossly unjust prosecution was carried out against Mumia in 1982 and
he was convicted of murder and given the death penalty. His case has
been appealed over the years, where although the death sentence was
overturned, repeated efforts by the prosecution have attempted to
re-institute the penalty and carry out an execution.

Resulting from a January 19, 2010 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court,
the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Third Circuit was ordered to
reconsider the 2001 and 2008 decisions that rescinded the death
penalty in Abu-Jamal’s case. There is an ongoing campaign by
law-enforcement agencies across the country to pressure the court
system into carrying out the execution of Mumia.

An international defense campaign for both the freedom of Abu-Jamal
and for the elimination of the death penalty in the United States has
grown since the early 1980s. The International Concerned Family and
Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, MOVE and other organizations have been
consistent over the years in not only saving the life of this
award-winning writer and hero to millions around the globe, but in
raising the profile of other political prisoners incarcerated in the
U.S.

There were two death warrants signed against Mumia: one in 1995 and
another in 1999. Both warrants were stayed by the courts after both
national and international campaigns were waged to save the life of
this former Black Panther Party leader and supporter of the MOVE
organization.

During the struggle to stop the execution of Mumia in 1995 and 1999
people were mobilized in his defense from all over the U.S. and the
world. A key element in building massive support for overturning the
death sentence and demanding his release was the role played by
activists, journalists, trade unionists, intellectuals and political
officials in Western Europe, Africa, Japan and other parts of the
globe.

Leading figures such as former South African President Nelson Mandela
and his ruling African National Congress, along with former Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, came out in support of Mumia and demanded that the
scheduled execution be stopped. These developments took place in the
immediate aftermath of the defeat of the racist apartheid systems in
South Africa and Namibia in which people in the U.S. and all over the
world had participated.

Mumia’s articles, interviews and books were published in numerous
countries and served to win further support for his release as well as
the abolition of the death penalty in the United States, which has for
over a century been implemented in a racist and class-oriented manner.
In specific reference to Mumia’s case, the fact that he had been a
leading member of the Black Panther Party in Philadelphia was used in
the penalty phase of his trial in order to place him on death row in
Pennsylvania.

Mumia had also been a staunch critic of the police in Philadelphia
where numerous complaints of brutality and misconduct were leveled
over the years. On August 8, 1978, when the MOVE organization was
attacked at their residence, he sought through his journalism to
vindicate the 9 members who had been arrested, charged and convicted
in the murder of a police officer killed in the law-enforcement
operation.

European Union Discusses Mumia’s Case

The death penalty in the United States has gained attention in recent
weeks due to the execution of two mentally-disabled inmates Teresa
Lewis of Virginia and Holly Wood of Alabama. At present 35 states in
the U.S. still have the death penalty, although 4 have not carried out
any executions since 1976 when the practice was re-instituted after it
was overturned in 1972.

In 2009 there was an increase in executions in the U.S. to 52 persons
killed by the state through capital punishment. The Obama
administration is not opposed to the death penalty and has not spoken
out in regard to the most recent executions in Alabama and Virginia.

The European Union foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton was urged
recently to raise the death penalty in the United States along with
the current plight of Mumia Abu-Jamal. In a European Parliamentary
debate on October 6, Danish MEP Soren Sondergaard stated that he
“deplored “ the execution of defenseless inmates including Mumia
Abu-Jamal.

Sondergaard also noted that “The death penalty itself is a crime. But
it is often more than that; waiting on death row in miserable
conditions for years is torture. Capital punishment is also a form of
terror, used to frighten people from resisting oppression and
dictatorship.”

The European Parliament member went on to say that “African-American
journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal--the voice of the voiceless—is a key symbol
of struggle against the death penalty. For nearly 30 years he has sat
on death row, convicted in a trial notable for its errors and racism.

“High representative Ashton should raise the case with U.S.
authorities—in the fight against the death penalty there is no room
for double standards. In the fight against the death penalty there
applies only one standard: unconditional rejection.” (Article by
Martin Banks, October 7)

In a resolution that had already passed on October 2, the European
Parliament went on record opposing the executions of both Mumia
Abu-Jamal and Troy Davis of Georgia. Davis’ case has also won
international support. Nonetheless, Davis too remains on death row for
a crime he did not commit.

German Left Party delegate Sabine Loesing, who was active in passing
the October 2 resolution opposing the death penalty and specifically
mentioning Mumia Abu-Jamal and Troy Davis, was pleased that the
document was adopted with broad support. Losesing also said that she
would make sure that adequate pressure be placed on the EU foreign
affairs office of Catherine Ashton to raise this issue during meetings
with the Obama administration.
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Distributed By: THE PAN-AFRICAN RESEARCH AND DOCUMENTATION PROJECT--
E MAIL: panafnewswire@gmail.com

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