Don’t Let Them Silence the “Voice of the Voiceless”
No Execution by COVID –
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Now!
As we go to press, it is reported that while
hospitalized on March 3, diagnosed with COVID-19 and
congestive heart failure, Mumia was inhumanely shackled by
his arms and legs to the hospital bed, exacerbating open
bloody wounds due to his unrelenting skin ailment. This is
sheer medical torture, as was also
the case with Jacob Blake last August in Kenosha,
Wisconsin, when he was hospitalized after being shot in
the back seven times by police officers. The shackling
recalls the treatment of other Black Panthers, including
Huey Newton and Assata Shakur, and the chaining of black
slaves. Stop the torture, free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and the foremost class war prisoner in the United States, has been imprisoned for the last 39 years in the dungeons of the Pennsylvania penitentiary system, half that time on death row, an innocent black man framed by the police. On February 27, Mumia was hospitalized and diagnosed with COVID-19 and congestive heart failure. Despite having chest pains and difficulty breathing, four prior tests in the prison infirmary returned false negatives for COVID. It was only when he was moved to an outside hospital that an accurate diagnosis was made, following an outpouring of demands that he receive appropriate medical treatment. He is now back in the prison infirmary, in isolation, his health in a precarious state.
At age 67, Mumia’s life is further endangered because his immune system has been compromised by years of being denied treatment for Hepatitis-C, until in 2015 he collapsed in diabetic shock. He was only able to get appropriate treatment by filing a court suit on behalf of all prisoners suffering from this debilitating and potentially lethal disease. Now, with two life-threatening conditions in the midst of a deadly pandemic that has killed over half a million people in the U.S. alone, Mumia’s supporters are demanding of Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf that Jamal be released on medical grounds along with all other prisoners over the age of 50, all who have contracted the coronavirus, or are at heightened risk of death by COVID-19.
Now the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), the country’s largest union, has reiterated its call for the immediate release of Mumia, “framed by the corrupt racist justice system in the U.S.” His “only ‘crime’,” wrote NUMSA, “is exposing the racist, capitalist justice system in the U.S. which for decades defended and supported the Apartheid government.” Mumia’s life is in danger. Through criminal medical neglect, his jailers could carry out the death sentence that they have unable to accomplish over four decades, despite the racist judicial system that rigged his trial and relentlessly opposed his legal appeals, as the supposedly “progressive” Philadelphia district attorney, Larry Krasner, has now done as well.
The Internationalist Group has from our inception fought for workers action to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, as Brazilian teachers and West Coast U.S. dock workers did in 1999. We demand that Mumia be immediately freed, and urgently appeal to others to do so. He has been the courageous “voice of the voiceless” who has tirelessly denounced injustice around the globe. Don’t let them silence Mumia’s voice! We print below the message he read from behind bars at SCI Mahanoy to a February 22 online panel on “Julian Assange Appeal and the First Amendment.” ■
Julian Assange’s Gift
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
Julian Assange, one of the founders of the Internet transparency outfit Wikileaks, is widely regarded by the corporate press as an enemy. Why? I believe the answer can be gleaned by history of journalistic breakthroughs that came, not from the established press, but through alternative and underground presses.
At the height of the Black Liberation Struggles of the 1960s, Liberation News Service produced film interviews with people like Huey P. Newton, one of the co-founders of the Black Panther Party. It was a powerful breakthrough.
During the so-called War on Drugs, a little-known journalist named Gary Webb from a tiny West Coast newspaper the San Jose Mercury News broke the story of CIA drug-running to black gangsters in Cali. Webb won a Pulitzer and then came the counter attack. The big news guns, the big papers in New York, Washington and L.A., attacked his reporting. Mercury cut him loose, and thereafter news of an alleged suicide came. What does this tell us about new news sources against the grain of the establishment?
Now, think back to the Iraq war: remember “weapons of mass destruction”? How about Dick Cheney’s predictions that “they’ll greet us as liberators”? Julian’s Wikileaks broke through the state’s lies like a battering ram. And then Wikileaks released a video of a 2007 shoot-up of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops in an AH Apache helicopter gunship, the accompanying audio of laughter and guffaws as they shoot…
[Mumia interrupted by prison authorities]
He told the truth that only Wikileaks could tell. In this wise, Assange and his pals at Wikileaks showed the real face of war, they showed the face of the U.S. Empire. And he’s been treated like an enemy ever since. He broke through. And the fiends of corporate media, like the state itself will never forgive him.
–From Imprisoned Nation, this is Mumia Abu Jamal.■