November 15, 2001
An Urgent Call for Support of a New Growing Momentum
Lest we forget those who are wrongfully and unjustly imprisoned, who continue to suffer each day the persistent violation and erosion of our collective civil and human rights. Lest we forget that Leonard Peltier, imprisoned for 26 years, has never once, in any court anywhere on Earth, received a fair hearing that would fulfill his constitutional right to due process.
To the Chairpersons and Executive Councils and Members of CUPE locals together with the encouragement and support of CUPE regional and national offices. We would like to ask that you present this letter of conscience and request at your earliest upcoming executive council meeting.
We are urgently requesting your support through a financial contribution to the LPDC Canada, which will go towards the renewal and rebuilding efforts of an emerging campaign.
Can we possibly imagine what the innocent are forced to endure who are imprisoned day in and day out for the rest of their lives condemned within a living tomb? Or imagine that there never was solid evidence to convict or even to accuse someone of a crime? And what if the person was only defending the rights of his peoples against inequality, racism, poverty and the extinguishments of their land and treaty rights?
This is the tragic reality for Leonard Peltier, who is serving two consecutive life sentences in an American prison for the 1975 shooting deaths of two FBI agents. We are reminded of Canada’s failure to recognize its responsibility to this case. In 1976, Canadian authorities surrendered Leonard to the United States, which gave us assurances he would receive a fair trial. We now know that he was extradited solely on the basis of false evidence, mainly supplied by the FBI’s own witness, she herself a victim of its coercion and manipulation. But Canada’s court and the minister of justice turned down all efforts of appeal, refusing to consider the victim’s conflicting testimony, which surfaced after the extradition hearing but before Leonard was turned over.
Many of you are aware, deeply aware of this human rights case. Although our campaign for clemency failed last year, we achieved a great deal. A more global understanding of the realities of this case was reached. More importantly, the evidence was at long last heard in the Kaufman Inquiry, a semi-judicial inquiry held in Toronto last year, presided over by a retired senior judge. The only reason why brother Leonard is in prison today is that such evidence was not permitted in any court of law. No just court would ever have convicted him had this evidence been allowed to be presented! That is why we can never turn our backs without contradicting the fundamental basics of what we truly stand for when we claim to support human and civil rights.
So, without choice our struggle must and will continue to demand justice and freedom for our brother Leonard Peltier. We are inspired that there is a new momentum growing and a lot of work still to be done.
Examples of projects and avenues we are investigating and developing include:
¨ FILING FOR DISCLOSURE OF POTENTIALLY NEW EVIDENCE:
Filing under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for the release of any suppressed FBI, RCMP and government documents on the case being withheld by American and Canadian governments.
¨ DEVELOPING A POLITICAL LOBBY AND ACTION PLAN:
Developing with MPs from all parties a renewed parliamentary lobby that would include members filing for FOIA documents, petitioning, introducing a Parliamentary motion, and other lobby and international advocacy. One goal is for government to acknowledge the extradition hearing was flawed and misled.
¨ LAUNCHING INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS APPEALS:
Submitting a case grievance and appeal with the United Nations and with other international human rights, political and judicial bodies.
¨ OUTREACH CO-ORDINATION AND COALITION BUILDING:
Letter-writing and continuous lobby and solidarity work within labour, aboriginal, human rights, legal and international organizations & their networking structures.
The Canadian labour movement is a strong, committed partner in our coalition efforts to build a new campaign. We applaud its creative efforts to prioritize the fight for Leonard’s freedom. On December 5, 2001, the Ontario Federation of Labour will be awarding brother Leonard its human rights award. In Ottawa, other CLC members, including CUPE-SCFP and The National Union, are launching their own updated campaigns to members nation-wide. Trade unionists are drafting new resolutions, publishing updates and bringing to their councils a united call for support. And finally, we extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the executive councils and members of CUPE for their leadership in supporting our work and assisting us in reaching you all directly.
Please contact LPDCC for information on speakers, draft resolution
and letter writing, documentary films, and other resources at Leonard Peltier
tel/fax (416) 439-1893 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations to the Campaign Fund can be made payable to LPDC Canada,
43 Chandler Dr., Scarborough, Ontario Canada M1G 1Z1. Pls.
Send copies of letters to Harminder Magon, c/o CUPE-SCFP, 1375 St. Laurent OTTAWA, Ontario K1G 0Z7