Sunday, January 23, 2011

Honoring Political Prisoners & POWs

This is a repost from Workers World.

Meeting honors political prisoners & POWs

Published Jan 22, 2011 10:54 AM

The 15th Annual Dinner Tribute to the Families of our Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War was held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center in New York City on Jan. 15. This year’s theme was “Fanning the Flames of Liberation: Educating Our Community About Our Freedom Fighters!”

The families of nine political prisoners/prisoners of war were presented and honored, including one of Malcolm X’s daughters. They were saluted for their courage and sacrifices to the struggle for self-determination and liberation.

The dinner tribute was sponsored by the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee and activists in Service Employees union Local 1199. The program included libation, cultural presentations and speakers from the committee and from former political prisoners. Keynote speakers were 2008 Green Party vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente and Jihad Abdul-Mumit, Jericho Movement national chairperson and former prisoner. Moderator was Brother Zayid Muhammed.

Among statements read was one from Herman Ferguson, former prisoner, co-founder of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee and original member of Malcolm’s Organization of Afro-American Unity.

Participants observed a moment of silence for prisoners who committed their lives to the struggle and died in prison. Most of the prisoners being honored have been in jail for more than 35 years and are scheduled to never be reunited with family or friends. Some are serving life sentences for fighting for a better world, a world without racism and oppression.

Speakers stressed the importance of coalition building, collaboration and strengthening the movement, as well as the need to expand outreach nationally and internationally. Plus the need to find more effective ways of fighting the system. The National Jericho Movement circulated a petition calling for congressional hearings on the legacy and continuing impact of the FBI’s illegal counterintelligence program known as Cointelpro.

The meeting acknowledged several political prisoners who had been imprisoned for more than 35 years and denied parole. At the same time, speakers pointed out that the New York state parole board released Malcolm X’s convicted killer this past April after he served the last 20 years in a work-release program.

Also mentioned was that Mumia Abu-Jamal was denied a crucial Supreme Court hearing and that a biased propaganda film against Mumia, “From the Barrel of a Gun,” has been made. A progressive film, “Justice on Trial,” addressing evidence and issues relating to violations of Mumia’s constitutional rights has also been produced.

Among those honored was people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart, now serving 10 years, as well as her family. A moving statement from Stewart was read by Rosa Clemente.

All those present were encouraged to write and visit prisoners being held throughout the U.S. criminal injustice system to let them know they’re not forgotten. To become involved, visit or email

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