On Nov. 1, Native American and civil liberties organizations kicked off a month of protests against the continuing imprisonment of American Indian Movement (AIM) leader Leonard Peltier.
The events are timely since they coincide with Thanksgiving, which allegedly celebrates friendship between Native Americans and European settlers.
The opening events, in Washington, D.C., began with a 6:30 a.m. sunrise ceremony across from the White House. The rally that followed was addressed by Jennifer Harbury, whose Guatemalan husband was murdered by local military collaborating with the CIA. She has become a well-known personality in the United States by exposing the murder and U.S. complicity in it.
Harbury pointed out that Peltier was convicted almost 24 years ago on false evidence from an informer intimidated by the FBI, who told her that they would take her children away if she did not give the kind of testimony they demanded.
The AIM leader was charged, along with two other native American activists, for the murder of two FBI agents killed in a shoot-out with local people when the agents invaded the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. One AIM activist was killed in the exchange. The court was obliged to release the other defendants and then decided to focus its revenge on Peltier.
Despite continuing protests against the unjust sentencing of Peltier, he has already served a longer term in prison than most persons convicted of premeditated murder. He continues to be refused parole.
Moreover, he has been held in bad conditions and suffers from medical problems that are not being properly treated.
The present campaign is demanding that President Clinton offer clemency to Peltier, as he has just done to Puerto Rican nationalists, who also served long terms.
For further information, contact the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council, P.O Box 13521, Minneapolis, MN 55440. Telephone (612) 721-3914, fax (612) 721-7626.