Bolivian President Evo Morales honors Leonard Peltier, National Lawyers Guild joins call for clemency

by Peter Clark, International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Oct. 12, 2015 – Today, at the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and Defense of Life, President Evo Morales – joined by Vice President Linera, Chancellor Choquehuanca and Ambassador Caceres – acknowledged Leonard Peltier as a defender of Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth, and urged President Obama to grant him clemency.

Bolivarian President Evo Morales honors Leonard Peltier as a defender of Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth, the award accepted by Lenny Foster, Leonard’s spiritual advisor and a board member of the International Indian Treaty Council, on Oct. 12.
Bolivarian President Evo Morales honors Leonard Peltier as a defender of Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth, the award accepted by Lenny Foster, Leonard’s spiritual advisor and a board member of the International Indian Treaty Council, on Oct. 12.

Leonard Peltier was wrongfully convicted in 1977 in connection with the shooting deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. The federal prosecutor has twice admitted that the government did not and cannot prove Peltier’s guilt.

Evidence shows that prosecutors and federal agents manufactured evidence against him, hid proof of his innocence, presented false testimony, ignored court orders and lied to the jury. In 2003, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found: “Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed.”

Imprisoned for nearly 40 years – currently at the federal prison in Coleman, Florida – Peltier has been designated a political prisoner by Amnesty International. Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, 55 Members of Congress and others – including a judge who sat as a member of the court in two of Peltier’s appeals – have all called for his immediate release.

In 2003, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found: “Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed.”

President Evo Morales hosted the landmark 2010 World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. This year’s conference focused on climate, the threat of capitalism and the concept of living well. President Correa of Ecuador, President Maduro of Venezuela and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon were in attendance, as were other interested parties from around the world.

Though Leonard Peltier’s portrait of Evo Morales is not yet available, Leonard is recognized as an excellent artist; this is an example of his beautiful work. – Art: Leonard Peltier
Though Leonard Peltier’s portrait of Evo Morales is not yet available, Leonard is recognized as an excellent artist; this is an example of his beautiful work. – Art: Leonard Peltier

Specifically invited by President Morales, Lenny Foster, spiritual advisor to Leonard Peltier and board member of the International Indian Treaty Council, said: “I gratefully accept this important acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by Leonard Peltier in defense of his people and of Mother Earth. We can think of no other award so precious. Defense of our Mother is the first right we must assert as Indigenous Peoples.”

Foster also read Leonard Peltier’s words: “We’ve seen that the pursuit of maximized profits through globalization, privatization and corporate personhood has become a plague that destroys life … The people most closely associated with the Earth suffer first and most … To live free of the fear of forced removal, destroyed homelands, poisoned water and loss of habitat, food sources and our overall life way is our righteous demand. We, therefore, continue our struggle to survive in the face of those who deny climate change and refuse to curb corporate powers … It is time for all our voices to be heard.”

Afterward, Mr. Foster presented President Morales with his portrait – painted by Leonard Peltier.

National Lawyers Guild urges President Obama to free Leonard Peltier

Oct. 7, 2015 – Today, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) in coordination with the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee sent a letter urging President Obama to grant executive clemency to 71-year-old political prisoner and Native American activist Leonard Peltier.

“Despite overwhelming evidence of FBI misconduct – including the coercion and intimidation of witnesses, the utilization of false testimonies, and the concealment of a ballistics test reflecting his innocence – Mr. Peltier has been denied a new trial and is long overdue for parole,” the letter states.

Widely recognized for his humanitarian works and a six-time Nobel Prize nominee, Peltier also is an accomplished author and painter.

“Despite overwhelming evidence of FBI misconduct – including the coercion and intimidation of witnesses, the utilization of false testimonies, and the concealment of a ballistics test reflecting his innocence – Mr. Peltier has been denied a new trial and is long overdue for parole,” the letter states.

“Hawkman,” a self portrait – Art: Leonard Peltier
“Hawkman,” a self portrait – Art: Leonard Peltier

The NLG also advocated for Peltier’s release during the Clinton administration. “It’s long past time for the healing to begin between Indigenous Nations and the U.S. government – with regard to the Peltier case, as well as other tragic incidents of the past” said Peter Clark, co-director of the Defense Committee.

The Peltier case has been examined by renowned author Peter Matthiessen (“In the Spirit of Crazy Horse”) and by a documentary film produced and narrated by Robert Redford (“Incident at Oglala”). Although the courts have acknowledged evidence of government misconduct – including the coercion of witnesses, the intentional use of false testimonies, and the concealment of ballistics evidence reflecting his innocence – Peltier remains in a maximum security prison.

The power to commute Peltier’s sentence of two life terms rests with President Obama.

“Mr. Peltier is 71 years old and in poor health. This is the very time for renewed commitment and unity. We’re very pleased that the National Lawyers Guild have taken this action on Mr. Peltier’s behalf and are actively involved in securing his freedom,” the ILPDC spokesperson said.

“Mr. Peltier is 71 years old and in poor health. This is the very time for renewed commitment and unity. We’re very pleased that the National Lawyers Guild have taken this action on Mr. Peltier’s behalf and are actively involved in securing his freedom,” the ILPDC spokesperson said.

Contact Peter Clark, co-director of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, at 505-217-3612 or contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info.