Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Despite denial - write another letter & call for Oscar Lopez Rivera

February 21, 2011

Today the National Boricua Human Rights Network
is continuing the campaign to win freedom for
Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar Lopez
Rivera. On Friday, February 18, the U.S. Parole
Commission issued its decision in the case of
Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López
Rivera, stating "Deny parole. Continue to a
15-year reconsideration hearing in January 2026
or continue to expiration, whichever comes first."

Please continue to call, fax and mail letters to
SCRIPT AND LETTER. Please make sure you use those. (see below)

This decision ignores the express will of the
Puerto Rican people and those who believe in
justice and human rights, counting tens of
thousands of voices supporting his immediate
release, the Commission ignored the evidence
establishing that Oscar met all the criteria for
parole, and also ignored its own rules in the
process. Among these many ignored voices are
members of legislatures including the United
States Congress; the state legislatures of New
York, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania; the city
councils and county boards of many locales in the
U.S. and Puerto Rico; the mayors of many towns in
the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including the
Association of Mayors of Puerto Rico; bar
associations including the Puerto Rico Bar
Association, the National Lawyers Guild and the
American Association of Jurists; clergy and
religious organizations, including the Ecumenical
Coalition representing every religious
denomination in Puerto Rico; human rights
advocates, academics, students, artists, community organizations, and workers.

Oscar and his attorney Jan Susler will meet next
week to discuss the decision. Meanwhile, the
National Boricua Human Rights Network in the U.S.
and the Comité Pro Derechos Humanos in Puerto
Rico will continue the campaign to express to the
Parole Commission the depth and breadth of
support for Oscar's immediate release.

Oscar, his family, his attorney, National Boricua
Human Rights Network in the U.S. and the Comité
Pro Derechos Humanos in Puerto Rico want to
express our deepest gratitude for the vast support for his release.

Alejandro Luis Molina
Skype: alejandromann

Coordinating Committee
National Boricua Human Rights Network
2739 W. Division Street
Chicago IL 60622
twitter: olrcat

Comité Pro-Derechos Humanos

February 21, 2011

Isaac Fulwood, Jr., Chair via facsimile 301/492-5543
United States Parole Commission
5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 420
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815

Re: Oscar López Rivera, 87651-024, FCI Terre Haute

Dear Chairman Fulwood, and Commissioners Mitchell, Cushwa and Wilson Smoot:

We write to ask you to reconsider your decision
to deny parole to Oscar López Rivera, who is
serving a 70 year sentence for his commitment to
the independence of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Parole
Commission has likely never had a case similar to
his, with such overwhelming evidence to warrant granting immediate parole.

In what other case has an entire nation, in one
united voice, supported parole, as Puerto Rico did here?

In what other case has a president of the United
States already declared that the sentence was
disproportionate, and that he should have been released by September of 2009?

In what other case have 11 co-defendants
accumulated eleven years of exemplary conduct after their release?

In what other case has the very same Parole
Commission granted early termination of conditions to those co-defendants?

In what other case has the very same Parole
Commission granted parole to the only other
remaining co-defendant, only six months before
the hearing in this case, after he served 30 years in prison?

In what other case has the Commission received
tens of thousands of letters of support,
including from so many elected officials, clergy
and religious organizations, legal and human
rights groups, and people who seek justice?

In what other case has the Commission had such
conclusive proof meeting the criteria for release?

Yet, you ruled that because of several factors,
his "release on parole would promote disrespect
for the law," apparently ceding to forces opposed
to his parole, who insist that he is responsible
for a 1975 New York City bombing for which he was
neither accused nor convicted, and in which he did not participate.

We ask you to reconsider what promotes disrespect
for the law. The effect of your ruling is that
this 68 year old decorated Vietnam veteran, with
a distinguished record of service to his
community, will be required to serve 45 years
behind bars, when he was not convicted of harming
anyone or taking a life " in other words, cruel
and unusual punishment. No other country in the
world holds people in prison for almost half a century.

It is not too late for you to fulfill your
mission, "to promote public safety and to strive
for justice and fairness in the exercise of
[your] authority to release and supervise
offenders under [your] jurisdiction," by ordering
the immediate parole of Mr. López Rivera.

Very truly yours,
Parole Board Phone call-in script 9-5 EST until further notice
US Parole Board phone: (301) 492-5990
Hit 0 to speak to operator.
Sample script is below.

Hi, I’m calling for the release of Oscar López #
87651-024 and I live in Chicago [NY, etc.]
The Parole Commission should reconsider its order
denying him parole, and grant him immediate parole.

1) Oscar has the support of a broad sector of
Puerto Rico's civil society as well as Puerto
Rican/Latino communities and those who support
human rights throughout the United States.
2) Oscar was not accused or convicted of causing
injury or taking a life. He was never accused or
convicted of participating in the 1975 Fraunces
Tavern bombing or any other action that resulted in injury or death.
3) President Clinton's determination that Mr.
López Rivera’s sentence was disproportionately
lengthy, and his offer that would have resulted
in Mr. López Rivera’s release in September of 2009.