Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 22:54:07 -0500
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NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news & information
Subject: Leonard Peltier: Canadian update
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Global greetings and many thanks to all our relatives, for our brother Leonard Peltier and all the good people of Mother Earth who continue to sacrifice and struggle for truth, justice and freedom. Thank you for your courage, your support and your ongoing commitment to help free an innocent man; to maintain our human integrity; our responsibility to the natural world; to free the land and free the people.
Once again in Canada, Feb. 6, 1995 has come and gone and with it another prayer vigil to mark our continuous march for justice and Leonard Peltier's freedom - a unified call for international conscience and solidarity as expressed on this historic day all across our homelands. Our special thanks to all the people who braved the coldest day of the year in front of the American embassy in Ottawa, the nation's capital. Thank you for your strong prayers and solidarity. That's what this struggle is about: people helping people; setting those good examples; and never giving up to expose the beast is our common destiny. That's how this case came to be recognized around the world as a symbol of incredible human sacrifice and resistance.
Leonard Peltier is now in his 20th year of false imprisonment as North America's foremost aboriginal political prisoner. He was arrested 19 years ago at the Small Boy's encampment near Hinton, Alberta. Despite all the many years of disappointment and regret for the way justice is still being conducted against our people here in North America, the Peltier case stands today as another example around the world that says this is what happens to indigenous people who have the courage to defend their true identity and nationhood rights.
The real truth questions and points more towards a cover-up of gross government misconduct, complicity, racism and the history of America than to any credible evidence that would determine why or who was to blame for the three people killed that tragic day of June 26, 1975. Today the LPDC-Canada along with thousands of people from around the world are constantly organizing, lobbying and patiently waiting for the outcome of a first ever official Canadian government inquiry regarding Mr. Peltier's false extradition in 1976.
This inquiry, we hope will shed new light by re-examining past violations recorded in this country. We know the justice minister could still choose to turn the case over for an independent inquiry. How indepth or when it might conclude, we don't know. However, our lobby in Canada is justified to focus on calling for an international intervention because the Canadian connection continues to play a major, political advantage and with the proper attention could alter this case completely.
We, the people must never forget the collaboration and misconduct of U.S. government authorities, whose deliberate manufacturing of false affidavits violated another country's sovereignty and jurisdiction and was simply a criminal act! The false extradition has never been fully examined in either the Canadian or American courts and certainly gives us the right to seek a remedy from an international inquiry.
Why shouldn't the Canadian government be forced to correct and fulfill its obligation as a signatory to international agreements? Many other treaty-aligned countries today have politicians, government agencies and human rights commissions who continue to lobby with one another to adopt and support this case.
All have passed numerous resolutions calling for Mr. Peltier's release, which has been presented to four U.S. presidents, including the present Clinton administration, calling for the president to grant him executive clemency or a new and fair trial.
As long ago as 1978, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals had stated
that the submission of false evidence at Leonard's extradition
shock the conscience of the court and was
to say the
least a clear abuse of the investigative process of the F.B.I.
False affidavits by Myrtle Poor Bear, whose testimony was coerced, was
presented as key evidence only after the Canadian prosecutor advised
the F.B.I. that they did not have enough evidence to extradite
Another crucial point to make is Myrtle Poor Bear was not new to the F.B.I. She had testified before against other Native American peoples. It was only after she had recanted her testimony against Leonard Peltier did U.S. prosecutors label her incompetent and wouldn't allow the defense to call her as a witness.
Also the submission of the so-called
other evidence theory
presented to the Canadian courts by U.S. agents and used largely to
guarantee and even justify his extradition was later dismissed and
ruled completely invalid. The fact is there was no other evidence.
Even the Supreme Court of Canada in 1989 acknowledged that a fraud between two friendly countries had occurred and recommended that we seek remedy with the federal government. Until now, the Canadian government has been reluctant to investigate or re-open this case. Ironically it was their own representatives who represented the U.S. government both to the Supreme Court as well as during the original extradition. They never once contested the charge of fraud.
In 1992, a landmark resolution was adopted by a former federal opposition party, the New Democrat Party of Canada, which presently heads three provincial governments. The NDP is the first political party in the world to recognize Mr. Peltier's wrongful, political imprisonment on the basis that he had the right to defend his aboriginal peoples rights.
Unfortunately his imprisonment today stands as an example that clearly says somebody had to pay. Also in 1992, 55 Canadian members of parliament condemned the false extradition in an unprecedented legal intervention of Leonard's third appeal. In their brief of Amicus Curiae to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, they stated:
As amicus, the Honourable Members of the Parliament of Canada urge
the court to redress this grievous wrong and set aside this tainted
conviction or return the Apellant Petitioner Leonard Peltier to Canada
to be subject to lawful extradition proceedings.
We, the people of LPDC-Canada would like to offer our help to create a better understanding of this Canadian connection. Remember what's very clear in our case is: If it can happen here, it can happen anywere. No country is safe as long as this issue is allowed to go unchallenged.
We, the people desperately need your global co-operation and solidarity if we are ever to amend this grave injustice. We ask that you direct your lobbying to both Canadian and American governments; collect petitions and pass resolutions; and include the Canadian Justice Minister Allan Rock in your letter-writing campaigns, thanking him for attempting to set the record straight.
All we, the North American Indian people have ever asked for is justice in our own homelands. And where there is no justice, there can be no peace. The fact is we know it took false evidence to extradite Leonard Peltier and believe other illegal tactics and serious manipulation of evidence was used in order to convict him.
Former Congressmen Don Edwards said it the best when asked why Leonard
Peltier should receive a new trial. He said:
I can't see why
not. Why shouldn't he get a new trial. That would solve all our
We would like to remind you of a time 19 years ago when we were
honoured by 52 traditional chiefs of the Kwakiutl nation of British
Columbia, Canada, who together with Kwakiutl elder Ethel Pearson,
adopted Leonard Peltier into their nation where he received his name:
Gwarth-ee-lass which means
to lead the people.
Immediately exercising their nationhood rights they granted him sanctuary as a final attempt to stop his extradition, fearing for his life and believing he would not receive a fair trial in the U.S. The Justice Minister of the time, Ron Basford, only after receiving assurances from U.S. government authorities that they had an eye witness, agreed with the extradition.
In principle, this country should anul all past proceedings and request the return of Mr. Peltier; join the worldwide campaign for his clemency and forward all evidence and information regarding this case to any future inquiry. If the Minister of Justice was to register a complaint in accordance with international law, he would be defending Canada's jurisdiction and the right to question this case beyond the U.S. domestic concern where it continues to be suppressed. All this remains extremely significant when all Leonard has left is a clemency request!
After all legal avenues in the U.S. were exhausted, we organized some key people in Canada to help strategize a course of action we could legally take to protect the interests of all Canadian people. Shortly after, on Nov. 19, 1993, Canadian defense committee representatives gave testimony before the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, a multi-million-dollar, government-sponsored investigation into the aboriginal peoples' never-ending crisis. Upon examination of the evidence, commissioners communicated directly to the Canadian justice minister recommending that he immediately call for a comprehensive, independent review.
We continue to closely monitor and support all the growing political consciousness to this case from around the world, Thanks to Frits Terpstra and friends in the Netherlands, another victory was accomplished for the record on Dec. 15, 1994 when a full house of the European Parliament voted in a majority (202-238) to officially approve a request to the United States government supporting executive clemency for Leonard Peltier.
We are presently petitioning the European Parliament to amend its request to include a clearer understanding of the Canadian involvement to the U.S. In addition, 48 members of the Dutch parliament have also officially pledged their support. These are the kinds of international achievements that builds hope that we, as a global society must empower ourselves to demand freedom when all else fails.
In Italy, a similar dedication and effort can be awarded to the Italian people. Edda Scozza and members of the Italian defense committee, whose successful lobby resulted in 66 national politicans, including 18 senators, endorsing the call for justice and freedom.
We continue to share a close working relationship with many other popular resistance movements and networks including the arts. Thanks to Sibille, Radio Onda Rossa and others who helped bring together 19 national music bands to collectively cut an album in tribute to Leonard Peltier and all political prisoners.
Frank Dreaver, (a Plains Cree Indian from Saskatchewan/LPDC-c spokesperson & founder) along with the late Lew Gurwitz,one of Leonard Peltier's original attorneys spent many weeks and months together on different, intensive lobbying agendas including visits in (Rome, Terni, Florence); with numerous city mayors and presidents of the provinces; Italian politicans and parliamentarians as well as the government's human rights commission. Further agendas also took place in Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark and Sweden between the years 1989 and 1994.
This year, Frank will accept another invitation to speak at the International Conference on Prison Abolition taking place in Barcelona, Spain in mid-May. From there he will continue to lobby through Italy and possibly back to Geneva to refocus the Canadian case at the United Nations human rights commission (in preparation for a formal submission to seek international remedy under the U.N. Covenant of Civil and Political Rights - a treaty ratified as of 1990 by 92 of the world's countries, although it does not include the United States.)
As we continue to define our communications and develop a better public awareness in Canada and around the world, we are setting a new agenda for a more focussed international lobby in Ottawa with visits to other countries' embassies in order to further international political conscience.
We continue to encourage the native students in this country to continue their lobby and put forward resolutions to all their nation councils for endorsement.
As our determination to demand justice continues to unravel around the world, we send our solidarity and thanks to all our friends and comrades of the many different working groups across North America and internationally. We dare not forget the thousands of people who sacrificed their lives in the long, hard struggle for justice, like Micmac Indian activist Anna Mae Aquash.
After 22 years of political imprisonment, German political prisoner Irmgard Moeller is finally free, released from prison Thursday Dec. 1, 1994. Happy New Years, Irmgard. We thank you for your courage and extend our sincere solidarity for your long healing journey ahead.
We can only hope that more will follow like Silvia Baraldini from Italy - locked away in the United States of America but will never be forgotten.
A recent tragedy shocked the nation when a televised showing of an emergency male response team or riot squad was called into the prison for women in order to suppress and put down what authorities were claiming to be a riot. What took place was a brutal, degrading assault against women and all people. Male guards were used to forcibly strip women, and in some cases, actually cut away their clothing; forcing them to kneel on their knees naked, with their hands behind their heads while they were putting on handcuffs and shackles. (P4W is Canada's only federal prison for women.)
We, the people must support and demand an immediate, indepth public inquiry. Other violations and administrative abuse was also reported and linked in with an inquest of five other unrelated suicide-deaths of aboriginal women. Prison is a common global enemy that clearly must be stopped. It has become one of the largest growth industries in the world today.
We would like to honour a dear friend and long-time member of our team, Ojibway elder Art Solomon, who has dedicated a greater part of his life working for the abolishment of prisons and spent a larger part of his life going into prisons helping to restore the sanity and spiritual foundation of his aboriginal people.
Art has worked extensively at the prison for women and recently on
March 10, 1995 launched his second book titled,
A Vision Beyond the Prison Walls. (We encourage people to order
his books, including his first book,
Songs for the People:
Teachings on the Natural Way from NC Press, 345 Adelaide
St. West., Suite 400, Toronto, Ontario Canada M5V 1R5 at (416)
The committee would like to send their sincere condolences to the wife and family of Louis Irwin, Leonard Peltier's long-time friend, elder and spiritual advisor, who passed away into the spirit world on Jan. 22, 1995. We thank the creator for allowing him to touch our spirit by sharing his gifts with all of us through his good example and long, hard dedicated work.
We ask all people, particularly from the International community, to please focus their energy, resources and commitment in solidarity with this Canadian initiative. We are asking please help us to help others. Contact us by fax, phone or e-mail, in order to determine what it is we can do and how it can be co-ordinated together. If you are organizing and would like to invite a speaker to come, make sure you contact us in advance. The question will be timing, accommodation and whatever it takes to get there.
In the spirit of commitment and true solidarity, we thank you all for your time.
Frank & Anne Dreaver LPDC-Canada
We include an important copy of a F.B.I. comparison of how they lost the case in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; how the case was moved from Iowa to Fargo, North Dakota where none of the evidence presented in the Robideau/Butler case was allowed, taking away Leonard's right to self-defense. Even the U.S. government openly admits today they don't know who actually killed the F.B.I. agents. Now they say it doesn't matter because he was found guilty as an aider and abettor. Whatever it is, we can assure you of one thing: Leonard Peltier was convicted on pure circumstantial evidence in an unfair trial of the century.
The following is a comparison by the F.B.I. of the Cedar Rapids and Fargo trials and shows very clearly why Butler and Robideau were acquitted and why Leonard Peltier was convicted for the agents' deaths.
A. BUTLER-ROBIDEAU TRIAL, CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA - only a few autopsy photos of the dead agents were allowed for fear of prejudicing the jury.
PELTIER TRIAL, FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA - all autopsy photos were entered into evidence plus F.B.I. academy graduation photos of the two agents.
B. BUTLER-ROBIDEAU TRIAL - F.B.I. special agent, Gary Adams testified to the presence and departure of a red pickup truck at 12:18 p.m. moments after the agents were shot.
PELTIER TRIAL - F.B.I. special agent Gary Adams denied existence of the 12:18 p.m. red pickup truck.
C. BUTLER-ROBIDEAU TRIAL - extensive F.B.I. 302'S entered into
The court rulings..forced the government to furnish the
defense with all 302's prepared by special agents who testified
for the government.
PELTIER TRIAL - no 302's entered as evidence if agent who wrote it testified.
D. BUTLER-ROBIDEAU - witnesses told of F.B.I. coercion in obtaining
The defense was allowed freedom of questioning of
PELTIER TRIAL - F.B.I. coercion of important defense witnesses not allowed to be presented to jury.
E. BUTLER-ROBIDEAU - defense allowed to present testimony concerning the number of unsolved murders that occurred on Pine Ridge Reservation as well as a climate of fear and intimidation on the reservation.
PELTIER TRIAL - defense allowed to talk of unsolved murders ocurring on Pine Ridge only in a general sense, and were not allowed to exhibit evidence of F.B.I. creation of climate of fear.
F. BUTLER-ROBIDEAU - history of F.B.I. misconduct allowed as
The court allowed testimony concerning past activities
of the F.B.I. relating to its
Cointelpro<\q> policy towards Native
PELTIER TRIAL - no evidence regarding past history of F.B.I. allowed to be introduced, citing the F.B.I. was not on trial.
G. BUTLER-ROBIDEAU - defense lawyers and members of Butler-Robideau support group held frequent meetings and rallies in an effort to educate the public about June 26, 1975 and events leading up to it. National press blackout existed, but local press carried daily related articles.
PELTIER TRIAL - judge ordered the only news carried about Peltier could come from the court room. Defense lawyers and potential witnesses were not allowed to speak publicly about the trial.
H. BUTLER-ROBIDEAU - the jury was not sequestered.
PELTIER - jury sequestered under complete control of U.S. Marshall services.