Jalil Muntaqim: Why it’s time for the International Tribunal

Jalil-Muntaqim-art-by-Peshka-Calloway, Jalil Muntaqim: Why it’s time for the International Tribunal, World News & Views
Jalil Muntaqim – Art: Peshka Calloway

Interview by Wanda Sabir, edited by Nube Brown

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of a powerful interview that Bay View Arts and Culture Editor Wanda Sabir conducted with Jalil Muntaqim on the upcoming International Tribunal 2021, “We Charge Genocide,” Oct. 22-25. I admit it was painful having to cut this piece to fit it into the newspaper – the woes of an editor. I encourage you to listen to the complete interview: Wanda’s Picks, https://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks. Be a witness!

Wanda: We’re talking to Brother Jalil Muntaqim, freed warrior after spending nearly 50 years of imprisonment in New York’s various slave plantations. He is co-founder, along with deceased Sister Safiyah Bukhari, who passed in 2003 and Baba Herman Ferguson who passed in 2014, of the National Jericho Movement to free all political prisoners. He is the author of “We Are Our Own Liberators” and “Escape the Prism- Fade to Black.” 

While imprisoned, Brother Jalil called for the establishment of the In the Spirit of Mandela Coalition. This major initiative will consummate at the October 2021 International Tribunal which we are here to talk about today: bringing to the international progressive community the charge of genocide against the U.S. corporate government. 

Jalil-Muntaqim-4, Jalil Muntaqim: Why it’s time for the International Tribunal, World News & Views
Founding Jericho in 1978 was just one of Brother Jalil’s many significant achievements during his time in prison. He has received a BA degree in sociology and a BS degree in psychology, plus drafting and office management certificates. In his nearly 50 years of imprisonment, he mentored other prisoners and resolved numerous prison beefs; he stood by his principles and maintained the highest level of discipline, integrity and self-respect and respect for others. Jalil’s activism never ceased and is unquestionable; he has consistently provided movement leadership and guidance under the worst of conditions behind concrete and steel bars – this is why he and his political prisoner brothers are a threat to amerikkka inc. This is the photo of Jalil most commonly used before he was released. 

Brother Jalil requests our solidarity, input and energy in this national, international determination. So once again, welcome and talk to us about this International Tribunal in the Year of the Political Prisoner.

Jalil: As Salaam Alaikum, paz, peace and all the ways in which we can engender solidarity and salutations. It was 1998 that I put together the campaign for the Jericho Movement, but in 2018 I was in solitary confinement here in Southport Correctional Facility for having taught a class at Attica Correctional Facility. 

They didn’t like me teaching about the Black Panther Party and the history of the Black Panther Party, so they put me in solitary confinement for four months. At the time, I decided it was necessary for us to once again bring International Jurors to the United States. 

We had done so once before in 1981 or ‘82. And in that campaign the International Jurors came and visited a couple of political prisoners. Two particularly were Sundiata Acoli and the warrior Leonard Peltier, both of them still in prison today. And so, our fight continues to gain their liberation as well as the many other of our comrades who have been imprisoned throughout the country.

I initiated the campaign to have the International Jurors return to the United States in 2018. I put out that proposal and it was heard by my comrades in the Jericho Amnesty Movement, and they decided this was something that we were going to do. 

Free-SF-8-display-on-Bernal-Heights-070709, Jalil Muntaqim: Why it’s time for the International Tribunal, World News & Views
Born Oct. 18, 1951, in Oakland, Jalil Muntaqim spent most of his years caged in New York State except for a sojourn from about 2007-2009 back to the Bay to face another charge. Altogether, eight former Black Panthers were rounded up, and the campaign to “Free the SF 8” created this sign on Bernal Heights in July 2009.

It has evolved to a point where now today we are calling for the International Jurors to hear testimony on the issues of genocide; that will take place Oct. 22-25. We are raising the question of genocide on the whole issue of not only the question of political prisoners but the cumulative conditions of Black, Brown and Indigenous people in the United States. 

I’d like to just read off the charges we are bringing to the International Jurors. We have nine International Jurors who will be coming to the United States and/or hear the testimony from our witnesses in person and via Zoom, and those charges are: 

1) Racist police killings of Black, Brown and Indigenous people. There is no dispute that our people have been summarily murdered, killed by state sponsored terrorism, particularly the police. 

2) Hyper-incarceration of Black, Brown and Indigenous people, which includes and amounts to the continued sanction of legally sanctioned slavery. As you well know, slavery has not been abolished in the United States. It has been institutionalized by virtue of the 13th Amendment and its exception clause, which states if you are duly convicted of a crime, you can be forced into involuntary servitude and slavery. Hyper-incarceration is mass incarceration of Black, Brown and Indigenous people. 

3) Political incarceration of civil rights and national liberation era revolutionaries and activists, as well as present day activists. And we’re talking about our political prisoners; they’re overdue to end their incarceration. 

You know I did almost 50 years, 49 years and some months inside of prison and we have comrades right now, such as Ruchell Magee, who’ve spent 58 years inside prison. He is one of the longest held prisoners in the United States.

People around the world are waiting on us to get up off our ass and do what we need to do.

4) Environmental racism and its impact on Black, Brown and Indigenous people. We know that our communities, many of our communities are held in conditions or in places where they have these corporations and businesses polluting the air, polluting the water, polluting the land. 

And this environmental racism also includes what we call food apartheid. We have food deserts in our communities or all around our communities, but we don’t get the proper nutritional food that other communities receive. And so, we’re raising those charges as well. 

5) Public health racism and disparities and their traumatic impact on Black, Brown and Indigenous people. That one particularly, in my opinion, more so than anything else, is dealing with the disparity between the mortality rates between Black and White people in this country and also Brown and Indigenous people, and also sterilization of our women. 

I understand there is a problem right now in prisons in California where women have been sterilized without their consent. But this is not new. The forced sterilization of Puerto Rican women was uncovered several years ago, and it was well known Indigenous women have suffered the same type of fate. 

And so when we look at the cumulative aspect of this dynamic of this institution of white supremacy, institutionalized racism that we confront on a daily basis, its tantamount, in its totality, to conditions of genocide. 

6) Genocide of Black, Brown and Indigenous people based on the broad, historic and systemic charges. And so, cumulatively, these conditions have been brokered and in many respects demonstrate the diminishing of our people, of our nation, of our race. 

We are also commemorating the 70th anniversary of the great Paul Robeson and William Paterson when they brought the first charge of genocide, “We Charge Genocide,” to the United Nations; that was Dec. 17, 1951, about two months after my birth. 

Spirit-of-Mandela-logo, Jalil Muntaqim: Why it’s time for the International Tribunal, World News & Views
This is the logo for the International Tribunal.

So, we’re commemorating the 70th anniversary of that heroic effort on their part, and we think that the conditions that existed then, back in 1951, have not changed significantly outside of cosmetic ideas or maybe getting a Black person to be the president of the corporate government or vice president of this corporate government. Outside of that, the conditions of Black people, Brown people and Indigenous people on the ground have not significantly changed. 

Therefore, we feel it’s necessary to bring our charges, our issues to the international community and by virtue of doing so build out a basis of a new movement here in the United States. So those are the charges being raised and will be brought Oct, 22-25. The tribunal will be held at the Malcolm X Betty Shabazz Center in Harlem, New York, and again it will be hybrid (in person and online). 

We have individuals who will be there participating, particularly some of the International Jurors and also our witnesses who will be there to testify on these issues and these questions. We will have expert witnesses, expert testimony, being presented on all those issues and more. 

Beyond that of the tribunal, if I may, we will be submitting a petition to the United States Federal District Court with the charge of genocide. And in that capacity, hopefully with the assistance, the support, particularly through the amicus brief, friends of the court brief, it will be submitted on our behalf across the country and internationally. We will be building out our campaigns on a domestic level with support of the international progressive community. 

Jalil-Muntaqim-hits-the-streets, Jalil Muntaqim: Why it’s time for the International Tribunal, World News & Views
In this very recent photo, Jalil Muntaqim hits the streets of his neighborhood in Rochester after a year out of prison with the confidence of someone who’d lived there for the past 50 years. 

We are looking for in 2022, as I said, to build out our campaign to what we call a People’s Senate. We not only seek to organize what we call a People’s Senate; we think there needs to be a new narrative in regard to the conditions of people of color, specifically in this country. 

And I just wanted to make one more note about the issue white supremacy. White supremacy is an aberration in human history, right. It is an aberration based on the idea that a people believe that they are greater or superior to any other people on the planet. 

So, we said it’s time for the end of this. It’s time for us to make a dynamic move, building a new wave of struggle in this country based upon the whole gamut of fighting against capitalist imperialism and white supremacy.

Wanda: Wow, that was a lot. Perhaps we can have you on again before the 22nd to talk in more depth around some of these points that you just brought out. 

Jalil: Yes, let me make clear this last point. The American population has blood on their hands. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated the United States is the greatest purveyor of violence on the planet. 

These are not my words. These are the words of Dr. King, for whom this country made a national holiday. He said that. He was absolutely correct. 

And people around the world are waiting on us to get up off our ass and do what we need to do. Because they are fighting against colonialism, they’re fighting against neo-colonialism, they’re fighting against imperialists throughout the world.

Nelson-Mandela-w-fist-raised-iconic-photo-for-Spirit-of-Mandela-International-Tribunal-1400x700, Jalil Muntaqim: Why it’s time for the International Tribunal, World News & Views
This is the photo of Nelson Mandela, coming out of 27 years of prison, that the Spirit of Mandela Coalition has chosen as the inspirational symbol of the International Tribunal.

Who’s the imperialist? The United States! Because of our silence, they suffer. Because of our complicity, they suffer. And so, the world is looking at us and wondering what the hell are they doing over there in the United States? 

They’re suffering here in the United States and yet they are complicit in the suffering of people around the world. The international community is waiting for us to do what we need to do to end the bloodshed that Dr. King said the U.S. was the greatest purveyor of throughout the world.

Listen, the United States is not only killing the people, but also the planet, understand that.

Wanda: Thank you so much. Let’s do this again leading up to the Tribunal.

Jalil: Thank you, my sister. Please endorse and register for International Tribunal 2021. Go to spiritofmandela.org to learn more, and register at tinyurl.com/spiritofmandela. You can attend by zoom for free. As Salaam Alaikum!

Bay View Arts and Culture Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at wanda@wandaspicks.com. Visit her website at www.wandaspicks.com throughout the month for updates to Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 a.m., can be heard by phone at 347-237-4610 and are archived at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks.