Black is Back Coalition Demands - Free All Political Prisoners

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We, the undersigned, demand the immediate release of all African, Indigenous, Arab, and other people incarcerated as political prisoners and prisoners of war in the United States. 

We believe that these heroic freedom fighters, including such forces as Sundiata Acoli, Jalil Muntaqim, Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu Jamal and others, are correctly identified as "political prisoners" and  "prisoners of war," as per the definitions provided by the Special International Tribunal on Human Rights Violations of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War held in New York City in December 1990:

 1)   A "political prisoner" is a person who is incarcerated as a result of her/his activity in opposition to injustices perpetrated by the United States government and its political subdivisions.

2)   A "prisoner of war" is a person incarcerated because of her/his actions as combatants in a movement seeking liberation from the United States.

The Tribunal, which claimed jurisdiction under international law approved by international organs, specifically Resolution 1503 (XLVIII) approved by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, ruled that the African and other anti-colonial revolutionaries locked down in the U.S. prisons "are anti-colonial combatants captured in the course of their struggle for national liberation, as stipulated in Article I, Paragraph 4 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention of 1949."

Despite the heroic struggle of African people for civil and constitutional rights during the 1960’s, many of these anti-colonial freedom fighters have been the main targets and victims of U.S. colonialism, a condition of existence where people are dominated politically, socially, and economically, by a foreign and alien state power in the form of the U.S. capitalist-colonialist system.

Furthermore, the Black is Back Coalition (BIBC) for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations is asserting that the U.S. is a settler-colonial power and uses its prisons as a form of control against African people and rightfully demand the immediate release of all political prisoners to their colonized communities in the U.S or to any friendly country that is willing to accept our fighters and provide political asylum without political conditions that would restrict their movement and political activities.   

Synopsis of Evidence

In this petition we present but a synopsis of thousands of pages worth of documentation, serving as evidence of the U.S. government's use of the colonial prison system as a tactic to suppress the struggle of African and other colonized people for national liberation.

•COINTELPRO: The U.S. government’s counterinsurgency against the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s and assassinations of African political leaders in the U.S. who were struggling for civil rights and political power over black communities. (See the book: The COINTELPRO Papers by Ward Churchill)

•Mass imprisonment of African people. The U.S. has by far the largest prison population on Earth with 2.3 million people incarcerated and about 7 million people awaiting trial, on probation or behind bars. Half of the prisoners in the U.S. are impoverished African people and another quarter are Mexican or other subject and oppressed people. By comparison, China has three times the U.S. population but only 1.5 million in prison. The U.S. prison system has created an enormous economy mostly benefitting the white population. (See: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. For the economic gains to the U.S. economy, see: Overturning the Culture of Violence by Penny Hess)

•Massive stop and searches in the U.S. targeting black and Latino men: (See: The Nation: The Outrage of Stop and Frisk Policing http://tinyurl.com/plljydd and http://tinyurl.com/o9lj9vx

•Massive police violence and murder of African people. The police murders of unarmed civilians plagues the African community with another killing almost daily. African people of both genders and all ages have been brutally gunned down by police, sparking outrage from the community. (See: Malcolm X Grassroots study: http://tinyurl.com/m8ad557 ; and Police Brutality: An Anthology by Jill Nelson)

•The rise of black women in prison in the U.S. There has been a 646 percent increase in black women in prison between 1980 and 2010 (The Sentencing Project: http://tinyurl.com/n9zpw74

•The numbers of black children locked up in prison in the U.S.; black juveniles sentenced to life without parole. (See: http://tinyurl.com/pazffxu)

•African communities are under siege by a fully armed occupation by militarized police forces and SWAT teams. Since the 1990s the U.S. Defense Department has given $4.3 billion in military equipment to police African and other oppressed communities. (See: http://tinyurl.com/qeoystn

The U.S. government is responsible for mass murders, as well as mass and discriminatory imprisonment. These conditions of existence imposed on African people are not just a disparate set of unconnected incidents, they are symptoms of the disease of colonialism. The prison system is but one example of how colonialism dominates all aspects of the lives of African people.

There are extraordinary sentences still being carried out against some of our most dedicated fighters such as Sundiata Acoli, who has spent nearly a half century rotting away in the dungeons of the U.S., and the defacto death sentence given to deceased liberation fighter, Mafundi Lake, who spent more than 35 years in some of the worst prisons in Alabama.

These are but two of the examples of political prisoners held captive by the U.S. government. The list of political prisoners in the U.S. is long. Ironically, the U.S. government still arrogantly and hypocritically tours the world demanding human rights be practiced by other countries as our liberation fighters from the 1960’s and 1970’s suffer from the humiliation of lifelong imprisonment for righteously fighting for the liberation of African people. 

Holding our best fighters in U.S. prison for 30, 40 and 50 years with the intention for them to die in these circumstances and to not even get the recognition they deserve as defenders of the African nation and as freedom fighters, is genocide. 

Part of the definition of genocide taken from “The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide include: 

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

And 

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

The evidence is clear and can not be disputed: scores of political prisoners languish in U.S. prisons even as the U.S. capitalist-colonialist state denies the existence of such prisoners.

We call on the world to join the Black is Back Coalition in making the demand for the immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of war. 

To emphasize the gravity of the contradiction surrounding these brave warriors. We are listing just some of the political prisoners and their sentences to date:

  • Sundiata Acoli - Black Panther Party, already served 47 years
  • Mumia Abu Jamal - Black Panther Party, already served 39 years
  • Jamil Al-Amin - Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, already served 19 years
  • Jalil Muntaqim - Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, served 48 years, paroled in 2020
  • Ruchell Cinque Magee - Accused in the August 1970 attempted liberation of George Jackson, already served 56 years 
    Leonard Peltier - American Indian Movement, already served 43 years
  • Ed Poindexter - Black Panther Party, already served 48
    Mutulu Shakur - Republic of New Afrika, already served 33 years
  • Russell Maroon Shoatz - Black Liberation Army Served 48 years
  • Byron Chubbuck - Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN, already served 19 years
  • Kojo Bomani Sababu - Black Liberation Army, already served 46years
  • Veronza Bowers - Black Panther Party, already served 44 years

Free Them All!