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Activists call national attention to plight of U.S. political prisoners

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Correspondent- | Last updated: Apr 23, 2012 - 6:45:25 PM

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Mumia Abu Jamal
WASHINGTON ( - Activists supporting some of this country’s longest serving political prisoners in America used the month of April to call attention to their suffering and to rally support for freedom.

Supporters of the Cuban 5—Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, and Ramon Labinino, who were wrongfully convicted in this country—unfurled a banner on an overpass above busy Interstate 80 in the San Francisco Bay area April 5. The banner read: “OBAMA FREE THE CUBAN FIVE NOW!”

Led by actor Danny Glover and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 declared April 17-21 “5 Days for the Cuban 5” in Washington, D.C. Activities already scheduled include a rally, film screenings and events on the campuses of both Howard University and the University of Maryland in College Park.

Saul Landau’s film “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up,” will be shown April 18 at the Nyumburu Cultural Center in College Park, and again on April 19 at Howard University.

A man walks past in front a billboard with images of fi ve Cuban intelligence agents imprisoned in U.S., popularly known as the “Cuban Five,” in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. Rene Gonzalez, whose photo appears third from left in the billboard, arrived in Havana more than a week ago after a Florida judge granted him permission to visit his gravely ill brother, but the Cuban national hero hasn’t appeared in public. Photos: AP Wide World Photos/Franklin Reyes
Canadian journalist Wayne Smith, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section (embassy) in Havana will lead a discussion April 18 at the University of California Washington Center with Stephen Kimber, author of “What Lies Across the Water,” a book which reveals that The Five were assigned to work not against this country, but to gather information on exile terrorist activities against Cuba.

The new stage play “Esencias. La Colmenita in the United States,” by Roberto Chile was recently staged in Langston Hughes Hall at the popular D.C. restaurant Busboys & Poets. The performance is part of the call: “Breaking the Silence” about the plight of the Cuban 5.

And the children’s play: “Cuba’s Greatest Army,” by Obi Egbuna a correspondent for the Zimbabwe Herald is scheduled for a repeat performance at the Venezuelan embassy in April. The play supports the innocence of the Cuban 5 and it details the hundreds of thousands of medical personnel, including thousands permanently stationed in Haiti even before the devastating earthquake there.

Another film was presented April 11, this time at Sankofa Café and Bookstore. “Justice on Trial,” by Joanna Fernandez, exposes the major violations in the prosecution, and trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who his supporters insist was wrongfully convicted in 1982 of the murder of a Philadelphia police officer.

April 24 is the birthday of Mr. Abu Jamal, a former death-row prisoner whose capital sentence was overturned by the courts, but prosecutors have refused to seek its reinstatement, lest a new court hearing expose the prosecutorial errors and judicial flaws in that case. A major rally is scheduled that day at the Justice Department by his supporters. “Mumia has become a symbol for all of us. A symbol of struggle, a symbol of hope. Our final goal is to bring Mumia home. He has spent too many years in those dark chambers of death,” Prof. Angela Davis—herself a prisoner who was acquitted in a political trial in 1972—wrote in a statement posted at

Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist, whose supporters insist was wrongfully convicted of the murder of an FBI agent in a 1975 shootout at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is another prominent political prisoner. Human rights activists marched through Delray Beach, Fla., April 8 to highlight his cause.

That walk, at the Crest Theatre at Old School Square, began in California in December and is scheduled to end in May in Washington, D.C. A sweat lodge, dinner and showing of the film “Incident at Oglala,” were part of that evening’s fare.

Other political prisoners include Atlanta Imam Jamil El-Amin, former Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee Field Secretary, who supporters insist was wrongfully convicted of murdering a deputy sherriff, and who is convined under insufferable conditions, isolated, five stories below ground, in a so-called “Super-Max” prison in Colorado.

At attention is also paid to the plight of attorney Lynne Stewart, who defended a convicted blind sheikh accused of a terror plot; Herman Wallace, a member of the so-called “Angola 3 (Louisiana),” imprisoned since 1972; Kevin Cooper, on San Quentin’s death row; Rashid Kevin Johnson, in the Oregon State Prison; and Siddique Abdullah Hasan, on death row in Ohio.