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Nelson Mandela Day: Building a new type of unity

August 28, 2018

by Kwame ‘Beans’ Shakur

The following is a speech by Kwame Shakur read by a supporter at the Indiana Department of Corrections headquarters. Comrades gathered on July 18 in Indianapolis for Prison Lives Matter: In the Spirit of Nelson Mandela, beginning with a panel discussion at 11 a.m. at Light of the World Christian Church, followed by a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Indiana Department of Corrections.

A lively panel discussion on Nelson Mandela Day focusing on the politics of imprisonment prepared participants for an inspiring rally outside the headquarters of the oppressor, the Indiana Department of Corrections, one of the most repressive DOCs in the country. The photos on the steps are of comrades who are playing lead roles in the struggle: Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Keith “Malik” Washington, Kinetik Justice and Kwame Shakur.

The basis for the Prison Lives Matter Campaign and this demonstration is not only to shed light on the poor treatment and inhumane living conditions that prisoners are subjected to, although we know this is the initial motivating factor for most families and supporters who get involved with the prison movement and demonstrations such as this one. However, the objective is to tie this struggle into our overall class and national struggle against racist capitalist-imperialist domination and exploitation of the proletariat.

We could organize these protests and demonstrations every week and put boots on the ground outside these razor wire plantations and DOC headquarters, but all that would lead to at most is reform on a policy here or there and turning individuals into reactionary reformists. So, more important is that we create these panels and have these discussions to educate the people around the antagonistic class contradictions of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat – the owners of land, property and the means of production vs. landless neo-slaves – in order to raise class consciousness among the masses to help them overstand the core issues of our oppression and the politics of imprisonment in the United States.

Many times we hear that families of prisoners want to challenge repressive policies or expose brutality but say they just don’t know what they can do and they feel powerless against the state. Organizations like IDOC Watch are here today to give them the tools they need by introducing them to local chapters and political education classes each month that will allow them to get involved.

The basis for the Prison Lives Matter Campaign and this demonstration is not only to shed light on the poor treatment and inhumane living conditions that prisoners are subjected to, the objective is to tie this struggle into our overall class and national struggle against racist capitalist-imperialist domination and exploitation of the proletariat.

Also, when building this national and international amnesty campaign for Political Prisoners of War in the United States, it is fundamental that we break down our national liberation struggle for independence through the perspective of international law as it relates to

  • protection of peoples who are fighting for self-determination against the colonial government;
  • those freedom fighters who in the course of their struggle for independence took up arms and engaged in politico-military acts; and
  • the FBI’s counter-intelligence programs such as COINTELPRO and the “Extremist, Revolutionary, Terrorist, and Subversive Activities in Penal Institutions Program” that allowed the government to neutralize and control these revolutionary fighters even after they had been captured.

This will help make it clear to the masses and progressives all around the world the international crimes of genocide and colonialism that the U.S. government has committed and continues to commit. The United States refuses to honor international law when it comes to the New Afrikan (Black) Liberation struggle or acknowledge that there is an actual New Afrikan Independence Movement in this kkkountry. For one reason – they would then have to acknowledge and give credibility to the New Afrikan, Puerto Rican and Euro American Freedom Fighters and Prisoners of War who are being held captive not for “criminal” acts, but rather acts of liberation as permitted during times of anti-colonial wars to be free.

Comrade Jalil Muntaqim lays this out for us in his book “We Are Our Own Liberators”:

“Accordingly, Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: 1. Everyone has a right to a nationality; 2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

“Hence, U.S. colonial rule has been found to be against international law (the deprivation of national identity and genocide) which gives cause for these colonized people to wage national liberation struggle against continued colonization. The United Nations Declaration on the Granting of Independence to colonial countries and people affirms: … the inherent right of colonial people to struggle by all means at their disposal against colonial powers which suppress their aspirations for freedom and independence …

“While the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights states: ‘All people have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.’

“Political Prisoners of War are protected by international law, as they are members of organized bodies of oppressed colonies fighting for national liberation and self-determination. General Assembly Resolution 2621 (XXV) specifically provides in (6)(A) that ‘[all freedom fighters under detention shall be treated in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention Relation to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, of 12 August 1949]’ (United Nations, Treaty Series, Vol 75 [1950]). Subsequent resolutions of the General Assembly reaffirmed the legitimacy of the ‘peoples’ struggle for liberation from colonial and foreign domination by all means available, including armed struggle (see #2708 [14 December 1970];33070[XXVII] [30 November 1975]); and that persons participating in resistance movements for independence and self-determination in case of arrest be treated as Prisoners of War in accordance with the principles of the Geneva Convention (see #2852 XXVI [20 December 1971]; #3103 XXVII [12 December 1973]). This is important based upon the fact that the U.S. government continued to attack these political prisoners of war in its efforts to prevent the development and fruition of national liberation struggles.”

Just like all corrections policies or state and federal laws, the kkkourts only honor and apply them when it benefits them. When we turn around and try to use these laws and policies against them to work in our favor, suddenly they mean nothing.

Our national liberation struggles are discredited; our freedom fighters and activists are labeled criminal and domestic terrorists; our political and military formations are labeled as gangs and criminal organizations; and when we come together in our community to protest or resist the pigs killing our youth, the national guard is deployed into our streets and local police departments show up in military vehicles as if it’s a war zone.

Just like all corrections policies or state and federal laws, the kkkourts only honor and apply them when it benefits them. When we turn around and try to use these laws and policies against them to work in our favor, suddenly they mean nothing.

Yet just this year, when the people overseas in a country that the U.S. supports take to the streets and pick up arms in resistance movements against their government, we see Trump take to Twitter praising these people for what he acknowledges is their right to wage war against an oppressive government that denies them the right to self-determination!

Not only do these international laws apply to comrades like Jalil Muntaqim, Mutulu Shakur, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli and so many more who were captured and left to languish in these slave kkkamps for the past 30 to 40 plus years because they were criminalized, but when coupled with the facts we have proving the intent of the FBI’s counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) to target and frame these individuals, it makes the need for an international amnesty campaign and a U.N. investigation into the human rights of U.S. Political Prisoners that much greater.

We have the actual FBI memorandum explaining the purpose of COINTELPRO to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist, hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder.

“The pernicious background of such groups, their duplicity, and such publicity will have a neutralizing effect. Efforts of the various groups to consolidate their forces or to recruit new or youthful adherents must be frustrated. No opportunity should be missed to exploit through counterintelligence techniques the organizational and personal conflicts of the leadership of the groups and where possible an effort should be made to capitalize upon existing conflicts between competing Black Nationalist organizations. When an opportunity is apparent to disrupt or neutralize Black Nationalist, hate-type organizations through cooperation of established local news media contacts or through such contact with sources available to the seat of government, in every instance careful attention must be given to the proposed to insure the targeted group is disrupted, ridiculed or discredited through publicity and not merely publicized.”

Is this not the very definition of genocide? Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of a national, racial, political, religious or cultural group. So it’s important that we point out that the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide states in Article II:

“In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

“(a) Killing members of the group;

“(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

“(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

“(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

“(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

And Article III states:

“The following acts shall be punishable:

“(a) Genocide;

“(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;

“(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

“(d) Attempt to commit genocide;

“(e) Complicity in genocide.”

The U.S. government, FBI and Indiana Department of Corrections has declared war on our national and political leaders in an effort to neutralize our national independence as we struggle to control our own educational, economic, political and socio-cultural affairs. Their counterintelligence tactics don’t stop at the prison gate.

I can just imagine what you elder comrades and forerunners who paved the way for myself and this new generation of revolutionaries have been through over the decades. Since Shaka Shakur and I founded the New Afrikan Liberation Collective in 2015, I have been under constant attack from the state: mail censorship, over a year and a half of JPay and phone restriction, and solitary confinement in an attempt to silence me.

Because of my political beliefs and determination to create a collective struggle to unify and rebuild the Republic of New Afrika, I am being punished and “neutralized” for educating and uplifting my people. They hate that we have launched Prison Lives Matter; we’re uniting all across the kkkountry, building class consciousness and destroying the plurality of “race” behind these walls – and that’s what scares them the most.

The U.S. government, FBI and Indiana Department of Corrections has declared war on our national and political leaders in an effort to neutralize our national independence as we struggle to control our own educational, economic, political and socio-cultural affairs.

We may have our New Afrikan formations and cadre organizations that are specific to the New Afrikan Nation and Black community, but Prison Lives Matter is for all nationalities and peoples held captive with the same class enemy oppressing us all. The state witnessed this unification last month when they wrote me up for “inciting, coercing, and directing a riot.”

I had Euro-Americans, Chicanos, Mexicans and New Afrikans standing in solidarity with me as we listed our demands and stood firm until the end. They aren’t used to seeing that type of unity.

That’s the same type of national and international solidarity we have to build on the outside in order to move the people towards a true proletarian revolution.

In closing, I ask that everyone go to our GoFundMe account at gofundme.com/KwameShakur and continue to share the link on social media in order to raise the funds needed for future Prison Lives Matter demonstrations, as well as helping us keep the San Francisco Bay View newspaper alive. Without the Bay View and Mary Ratcliff there would be no Kwame Shakur, NALC or Prison Lives Matter.

Without the Bay View and Mary Ratcliff there would be no Kwame Shakur, NALC or Prison Lives Matter. The San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper has been serving the people for 42 years.

The San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper has been serving the people for 42 years. The Bay View has never failed us or let us down, so we must do everything we can to keep it going. If the numerous attacks on the publication from the FBI and Internal Affairs inside these kkkamps with the help of judges to ban the Bay View wasn’t strong enough to censor us, then we can’t let a financial issue that we can all come together and fix destroy a platform that is fundamental to the overall movement in this kkkountry. REBUILD!

One love, one struggle,

Kwame “Beans” Shakur

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