by Jihad Abdulmumit
The October 2021 International Tribunal stands as a powerful and viable tool in the people’s movement to challenge and eradicate the historical and continued genocidal structures and practices established and perpetrated by the United States government and its states. The history of racism, exploitation and oppression of Black, Brown and Indigenous people in the United States is undisputed.
What needs to be understood is that this history is rooted in America’s colonizing of African slaves and Indigenous people, and that genocide, in whole or in part, was and continues to be a necessary and functional mechanism of colonialism. Colonialism, as universally understood, is the act of acquiring full or partial political control over another country or people, occupying it with settlers and exploiting it economically.
It is the act of one nation subjugating another, conquering its population, exploiting it, and forcing its own language and cultural values upon the colonized. This is exactly what the white settlers imposed upon Indigenous people already living in America and the African slaves who were a people with their own religion, culture and language.
American settlers from Europe – many who were tramps, vagabonds, criminals and outcasts – discovered a land already inhabited by Indigenous nations, and then imported captured Africans, forcing them into slavery. The often bragged about rough and rugged start of building a nation in North America began in earnest. As this budding nation grew, it continued to enslave more and more Africans, torturing and slaughtering thousands in the process.
The control methods included rampant killing of members of the “group,” causing serious bodily and mental harm, deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction, imposing measures intended to prevent births, and forcibly separating and transferring children from their parents and families. Hence, all the elements of the crime of genocide were committed.
The 2021 International Tribunal creates a space where we prove the already proven facts of racial violence, exploitation and oppression. It is a space where we invoke international scrutiny, where we declare enormous documented human rights violations committed by the United States on the world, and where we prop up a mirror for the centuries-old finger of white supremist leadership, institutions, culture and immoral values to point back to itself in its accusations and criticisms of other countries’ treatment of their citizens.
The 2021 International Tribunal creates a space where we invoke international scrutiny, where we declare enormous documented human rights violations committed by the United States on the world, and where we prop up a mirror for the centuries-old finger of white supremist leadership, institutions, culture and immoral values to point back to itself in its accusations and criticisms of other countries’ treatment of their citizens.
It is the intention of the 2021 International Tribunal to expose the practice of genocide committed against Black, Brown and Indigenous people and demand that the United States government and its states reckon with the legal and political consequences of its genocidal actions. The Tribunal will smash the social and political narrative that such injustices no longer exist and that everything is better now for everyone.
The Tribunal will bring to light the old saying that the more things change, the more they remain the same, and that the rich have gotten richer and fewer, and that the ranks of the poor and working-class people have grown and become disproportionately poorer.
The Tribunal will prove the fact that capitalism fueled by greed, corruption and racism is destroying the environment. It will show that the lives of Black, Brown and Indigenous people do not matter in the face of profits and the unbridled acquisition of wealth.
That the legacy of slavery lingers and haunts the descendants of slaves in every aspect of their lives – mental health, chronic trauma, dysfunctional families, substance abuse, relentless poverty, marginalization, mass incarcerations, racial profiling, despair, ignorance, fratricide, self-hatred, health disparities, food apartheid, decadent and degrading life-styles, and the creation of a culture that is calculated to maintain this reality and to ensure the continued existence of the powers that be.
The Tribunal will facilitate the legal and political presentation of accurate information to build a peoples’ human rights movement with the eyes of the world watching. It will prove to the international community – and to American citizens themselves – how real democracy is or isn’t.
The Tribunal will prove to the international community – and to American citizens themselves – how real democracy is or isn’t.
The 2021 International Tribunal builds upon the shoulders and wonderful work of past Tribunals, including the 1990 “Special International Tribunal on the Violation of Human Rights of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War in United States Prisons and Jails.” Similarly, it is not only an educational political event, but also a people’s judicial proceeding which will establish a strong foundation to launch international solidarity campaigns, civil and legal proceedings in US federal and state courts, and potential congressional legislation.
The international community, including the United Nations, has been historically ineffective and non-responsive to the issues of oppression, racism and exploitation of Black, Brown and Indigenous people in the United States. In the context of the 1951 “We Charge Genocide” documentation and the Organization of Afro-American Unity’s attempts to bring these issues before the world arena and subsequent efforts, the 2021 International Tribunal plans to go beyond basic presentation of the findings and verdict to the UN.
Though these results will be presented to the UN at the close of the Tribunal on Oct. 25, the coalition has a unique set of outcomes which provide an opportunity for organizing on a mass level across many social justice arenas. “We are our own liberators!” This empowering statement by Jalil Muntaqim, recently released Black Panther Political Prisoner, co-founder of the National Jericho Movement and Tribunal organizer, clarifies in a word what we the people must do.
The Spirit of Mandela coalition strongly agrees with this sentiment and plans to build the Tribunal as a powerful and effective organizing tool to mobilize people from all walks of life. The charges are expansive yet focused enough to embrace and address much of the oppression experienced by Black, Brown, Indigenous, poor and working-class people throughout history to today.
The 2021 International Tribunal not only vets the facts and proclaims a demand for justice; it is also a plan of action, which leaves us with – Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!
Jihad Abdulmumit, chairperson of the National Jericho Movement, was born in 1954 in New Jersey, joined the Black Panther Party at 16, then went underground with the Black Liberation Movement and served 23 years in federal penitentiaries. He earned an MBA in health services and now lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife and three children, working as a health care provider in a free clinic. Jihad, who is also a playwright, and his wife have a community theater company called For Our Children Productions. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and @jihad_abdulmumit. Learn more about the Tribunal at https://spiritofmandela.org/.