Teachers to Stop Work
Around the world, hundreds of thousands have demonstrated to demand freedom now for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther and renowned radical journalist sitting on Pennsylvania's death row for the past 17 years. The threatened execution of Jamal has become the focus of the struggle against the racist death penalty in the U.S. and internationally. The urgency of this struggle has increased sharply since Mumia's appeal for a new trial was turned down by the state supreme court last October.
In the fight to stop the forces of capitalist state repression determined to silence forever the voice of the voiceless, it is necessary to mobilize the tremendous power of the international working class. Over the years, unions representing millions of workers have called for Jamal's freedom. But this must be translated into action. Now the union representing 150,000 teachers in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro has called on its members to stop work and hold protest meetings in schools throughout the state on April 23 to demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Following upon a resolution passed in January by the congress of Brazil's National Confederation of Educational Workers (CNTE) demanding Jamal's immediate freedom, the Rio state teachers union (SEPE) has sought to implement this by calling a political work stoppage to free this courageous and eloquent fighter for the oppressed. We share with our Brazilian brothers and sisters the hope that news of this stoppage will help spark labor strike action for Jamal's freedom in the U.S. and around the world.
The motions in the national and state teachers unions were introduced by Marcello Carega of the Class Struggle Caucus, affiliated with the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil. The LQB and the Internationalist Group are sections of the League for the Fourth International. At the CNTE congress, a banner with a photo of Mumia was prominently displayed, and an event was held during the sessions to explain the importance of the fight for his freedom. The CLC spokesman emphasized that this goes hand in hand with the fight for removal of the police, "the armed fist of capitalism," from the unions.
The SEPE's statewide assembly of teachers, held on March 13, overwhelmingly approved a resolution stating that on each of the two shifts (day and evening), "the education workers of Rio de Janeiro state schools shall stop work on April 23 for one hour to carry out a meeting to demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal," using materials distributed by the union that relate Jamal's situation with "the need for an ongoing struggle against racism in all its forms around the world."
Indeed, the struggle to free Jamal is intimately related to the fight against all forms of capitalist and imperialist oppression. Drenched in the blood of countless thousands of Iraqis, victims of the wanton Desert Slaughter unleashed by U.S. imperialism in 1990-91, the NATO imperialists are now threatening to launch terror bombing on Serbia. The systematic racist cop terror against blacks, Latinos and other minorities in the U.S. is symbolized by the recent murder of African immigrant Amadou Diallo by a police death squad in New York City. While squabbling over the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the capitalist rulers, Democrat and Republican alike, have joined with the imperialist commander in chief in axing millions of women and children from the welfare rolls.
Proletarian revolutionaries fight to defeat these capitalist-imperialist attacks. We seek to bring into action the power of the international working class--which makes the wheels of industry, commerce and government turn and which can bring them to a screeching halt. To lead the fight for world socialist revolution, which alone can put an end to racist cop brutality and smash the barbaric death penalty forever, we fight to build revolutionary workers parties and a reforged Fourth International.
We look to the heritage of international labor defense embodying the principle that "an injury to one is an injury to all." In the 1920s hundreds of thousands of workers demonstrated from New York to Buenos Aires, Berlin and Paris to save the anarchist workers Sacco and Vanzetti. In the early '30s, worldwide protests by labor, leftist and black activists saved nine black youth in Scottsboro, Alabama from legal lynching.
Mumia's case has deep resonance in Brazil, which has the second largest black population in the world (after Nigeria). In a nation which like the U.S. was founded on slavery, capitalism is intertwined with brutal racist oppression, from widespread discrimination in jobs and housing to murderous police terror, killings of street children and forced sterilization of black and Indian women. Since first raising the fight for Mumia's freedom in Brazil in 1994 and demonstating in the steel city of Volta Redonda in 1995, the comrades of the LQB (formerly Luta Metalúrgica) have brought his case to the CUT union federation and other labor and anti-racist groups.
Over the years, unions representing millions of workers have come out for Jamal's freedom. Around the world he has won support from powerful labor federations including the French CGT, the Italian CGIL, COSATU in South Africa and the CUT in Brazil. He was made an honorary member of the media workers union in Germany. In the United States longshoremen, postal workers, hospital workers, teachers and others have joined the fight to save Mumia from execution.
It is high time to translate declarations of solidarity
into class-struggle action. To our knowledge, the action
decided upon by the Rio de Janeiro teachers union
represents the first labor action of its kind in the fight
to free Jamal. The League for the Fourth International
calls for labor strikes and work stoppages in the struggle
to save Mumia's life and win his freedom. We struggle for
labor and all opponents of racist repression to mobilize
by the thousands in the streets and workplaces to demand:
Freedom now for Mumia Abu-Jamal!
We print below translations of the resolutions of the CNTE and SEPE.
CNTE (National Confederation of Education Workers), Brazil
MOTION FOR THE FREEDOM OF ABU-JAMAL
The delegates to the XXVII National Education Workers Congress call for the immediate freeing of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the black journalist known as the "voice of the voiceless" and condemned to death in the state of Pennsylvania (USA). The defense of this courageous fighter against oppression has become the international symbol of the struggle against the racist death penalty.
Down with the racist death penalty!
Brasilia, 3 February 1999
copies sent to:
Luiz Felipe Palmeira Lampréia
SEPE/RJ (Union of Education Workers of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
RESOLUTION OF THE STATE-WIDE
The State-Wide Assembly of the Union of Education Workers
of the State of Rio de Janeiro, held on 13 March 1999,
approved the following resolution:
EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE SEPE/RJ
To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for
the Fourth International, send e-mail to: email@example.com