At a time when this country seeks understanding for its obvious wrongs around the planet and cannot understand why the global village mistrusts it, the U.S. government is mistreating and using extraordinary domestic rendition upon the most beloved contemporary Native American warrior. Leonard Peltier, whom - again in defiance of the global opinion - this country refuses to acknowledge as a political prisoner, today sits in a tiny cell without windows and human contact as the American people prepare to celebrate their myth of justice and freedom for all.
After twenty nine years in prison for a crime he didn't commit he was moved without rhyme or reason, and without notification to his family and attorney, from Leavenworth USP to Terre Haute Indiana USP. He was immediately placed in solitary confinement, "the hole". Leonard is sixty years old, he suffers from arthritis, bone spurs, all the discomforts associated with diabetes, and recently had a stroke.
The Bureau of Prisons may argue that placing a transferred prisoner in solitary confinement is a routine procedure until all the appropriate paperwork is processed, but the timing of this action adds to its cruelty since it was carried out right before the long weekend preceding this 4th of July. In addition, this development comes at a time when Peltier’s legal team is successfully arguing very important motions and the US Courts might be obligated to release him. It is no too far fetched to imagine that to prevent his release, he is subjected to this psychological and physical torture in hope that it will break his body and spirit, and literally kill him.
As seen in the world stage today, the U.S. concepts of freedom fighters, terrorists, illegal combatants, murders, and battle casualties, are relative at their best, and duplicitous, deceptive, and capricious in their application. The same government that manipulated Canadian sovereignty and false affidavits to obtain the extradition of Leonard Peltier, our freedom fighter, today protects Jose Posada Carriles, a real terrorist, and denies his extradition to Venezuela where he was involved in the bombing of a Cuban airliner resulting in the murder of all its passengers. On the other hand, the “crime scene” in which they have framed Peltier is a battle in which armed and trained US government combatants, illegally entered non-US territory, and attacked a group of armed civilians defending their land and families, and they, as well as one of those civilians (Joe Stuntz), became casualties of war. Why must then Peltier pay with his life?
Does the FBI feel any remorse for any of its victims: Joe Stuntz, Buddy Lamont, or Frank Clearwater? How about Pedro Bissonette or the Jimmy Little Incident? Both murdered by US backed forces, using deadly force, and bludgeoning Jimmy Little in front of his family. His son Jimmy, Jr. witnessed this terrible act and when he reached 21 committed suicide--a note revealed that he missed his Dad and saw no reason to live. Jimmy, Jr was an Olympic cross-country talent when he was at Loneman School as a 7th grader. He was the next Billy Mills but the trauma of the US invasion and its violence killed him before he had a chance to mature, he really was dead before he lived.
Who pays for our dead? Or are our lives still as worthless to the American people as when they would pay money for our skins red with our blood (hence the term redskins so celebrated by this culture). Our wounds are deep, and the torment that created them is unforgettable. We know we cannot go back in time, but what can be done today is to put an end to the assault on indigenous people, that has been taking place without reprieve since the beginning of this country. Enough is enough America! Basta ya! Honor our treaties, stop taking and destroying our land and resources, respect our sovereignty and our culture, rectify the language of your history, and free our warriors! Free Peltier!
Wanbli Watakpe aka Russ Redner
Executive Director, LPDC
Media PR Officer, LPDC