Human Rights During Wartime

By Jaan Laaman, Ohio 7 anti-imperialist political prisoner


The following is a public service message for Human Rights Day, December 10, 2001, received by Resistance in Brooklyn from political prisoner Jaan Laaman.
For more information about political prisoners/pows in the U.S., contact Jericho: www.thejerichomovement.com  


The struggle for Human, civil and legal rights is always so important, but particularly now in this time of war and increasing repression. Even as they expand this ridiculous war in Afghanistan, Bush and his government are laying plans to spread imperialist war to other countries. Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan have all been singled out. Threats have been made against Liberation movements in Columbia, the Philippines and Nepal, as well as against popular leaders and governments of Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine and Libya. With no sense of shame or even irony, Bush threatens war against countries who may have some weapons of mass destruction. This from a country that without question has the largest stockpile of every form of weapon of mass destruction known to modern civilization, and a long historic record of using them against civilian populations around the world!

Domestically, with this so-called Homeland Defense, creepy and fascist sounding as that is, we've seen the corporate media totally cave, becoming the new cheerleaders for each new police state law and measure. The recent quickly passed federal anti-terror legislation, allowing seven-day police detention and other repressive measures, is almost certainly unconstitutional. Even more dangerous are the slew of executive branch orders enacted by Bush, Ashcroft and Ridge. Secret military tribunals, over 1100 people from across the country (including citizens and legal residents, not just overseas visitors), snatched up and detained incommunicado in federal custody, countless roadblocks and searches of vehicles, Muslim men across America being profiled and harassed, government agents and soldiers all over the place, etc., etc. Congress has NOT declared a State of War. There is no state of martial law existing anywhere in the U.S. As powerful as the presidency is, Bush and his executive department people have authority only under the Constitution and federal laws. Secret tribunals, disappearing people, warrentless searches, etc., are gross violations of American law. The corporate press may be silent about all this, but the people should not.

It isn't overblown rhetoric to say that there is a more massive assault on Human and civil rights happening in the U.S. today than anytime since the founding of Human Rights Day over fifty years ago. Under a blizzard of waving flags, frequent "terror" and anthrax alerts to keep the public panicky, and an expanding war, a real police state apparatus is being laid down in the United States today.

Under the rubric of 9/11 and safety for the American people, rights are being stripped away across the board. For example, here in Massachusetts prisons, a new legal mail policy was just established, "due to recent national events." Previously and based on court rulings, all legal mail was only opened in front of the prisoner, checked for contraband but not read. Now under the new policy, all legal mail is delivered to us already opened and censored, along with our regular mail. Various government agencies are jumping on the bandwagon to enact measures not even remotely related to 9/11.

As often happens, many political prisoners have been singled out and further victimized since September 11. Just hours after the plane attacks, most political prisoners in the federal system were snatched from their work assignments and thrown into extreme segregation. Many were held incommunicado for weeks and only recently have been able to contact their lawyers. People like Sundiata Acoli, Marilyn Buck, Father Phil Berrigan, Carlos Alberto Torres and Richard Williams; people who have been in captivity since the 70's and 80's and who don't share bin Laden's politics or have any connections with him, were opportunistically locked down. Some, like my comrade Richard Williams, are still in segregation in Lompoc penitentiary.

The need to powerfully proclaim support for Human Rights for all of us, in and out of prisons here in the U.S., as well as Human Rights for Afghani mothers and children and men, along with all the people of this planet is crucial. Probably most critical is the need to support all those people and nations under physical and verbal attack by the U.S. government. I wholeheartedly join with you in this, as well as salute you and your work. The struggle for Human Rights is never easy, but always so necessary.

For Peace and Justice!

12/10/01

Jaan Laaman (W41514)
Box 100
South Walpole, MA 02071




In 1972 Jaan Laaman was charged with bombing Nixon's reelection headquarters and a New Hampshire police station. He was sentenced to 20 years. After winning an appeal and getting some of his sentence cut, he was released in 1978. In 1979, he and his comrade Kazi Toure helped to organize the Amandla Festival of Unity to support freedom in Southern Africa, which featured Bob Marley. This concert helped to fight racism in Boston, where it was held, and raised money to send to freedom fighters in South Africa. This activity along with the anti-racist and community security work he was doing led to increased police and Klan harassment, so Jaan went underground and joined the armed clandestine movement. He was captured in 1984, along with other members of the Ohio-7, and charged with Seditious Conspiracy, involvement in firefights with government forces and weapons charges. His sentence totals 98 years. (This information from the Anarchist Black Cross Federation website at http://burn.ucsd.edu/~abcf/jaan.html )


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