Partisan Defence Committee Press Release
25 April 2008
Partisan Defence Committee P.O. Box Q217, QVB, Sydney NSW 1230
Phone: (02) 9281 2181 Fax: (02) 9281 2185
Contact: Chris McCarthy, Phone (02) 9281 2181
Sydney demonstration, amid protests worldwide, demands:
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Upcoming international united-front protests demand Mumia’s immediate freedom: Chicago and Los Angeles on 26 April. For more information: www.partisandefense.org.
Chants of “Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Mumia is innocent! Abolish the racist death penalty!” rang out on Wednesday, 23 April, outside the U.S. Consulate in Sydney when more than 50 supporters of foremost U.S. death row political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, gathered to protest the 27 March ruling by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Mumia’s frame-up conviction for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Those protesting included death penalty abolitionists, prisoners’ rights activists, anarchist and immigrant youth, Iranian leftists, and socialists. Greetings of solidarity from Len Cooper, the Victorian Branch Secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union (CEPU) were read out to the protest. The rally was part of the international campaign initiated by the Partisan Defence Committee and its fraternal defence organisations. United-front protests have taken place in Oakland (U.S.), Toronto, London and Mexico. The PDC also mobilised Class-Struggle contingents for protests called by other organisations, including the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal in Philadelphia, Collectif unitaire national “Ensemble, sauvons Mumia” in Paris, as well as in Berlin.
The Court’s ruling means that Mumia faces either execution or the living death of life in prison. A former Black Panther Party spokesman, MOVE supporter and renowned journalist, Mumia is an innocent man, framed up for his political beliefs. He should never have spent a day in prison. As Rachel Wolkenstein, counsel for the Partisan Defense Committee, stated on 27 March: “The court’s decision is an outrage, a slap in the face to all opponents of racist injustice. This ruling shows that no justice can be expected from the capitalist courts. It shows yet again that the cops, prosecutors and courts—with the support of capitalist politicians, Democrats as well as Republicans—are determined to carry out Mumia’s legal lynching or bury him for life in prison. We must not let this happen! Mumia must be freed now!”
At the Sydney rally, Chris McCarthy of the PDC spoke to the overwhelming evidence of Mumia’s innocence, including the 1999 sworn confession of Arnold Beverly that he, not Mumia, killed Faulkner. McCarthy said, “The racist rulers see in Mumia the spectre of black revolt, and that in a country founded upon chattel slavery and where black oppression is the very bedrock of capitalist society. Mumia was framed up for his political beliefs and activism; convicted and sentenced to death for his lifelong commitment to the fight for black freedom.” Speaking of the need to mobilise mass protest centred on the working class, he continued, “Mumia is the victim not of one rogue cop, or racist judge but the entire capitalist injustice system. It was international protests, involving many trade unionists that won Mumia a stay of execution in 1995. This needs to be replicated today! The fight to mobilise the power of the working class stands sharply opposed to those groups internationally who subordinated the fight for Mumia’s freedom to the call for a ‘new trial,’ promoting the fiction that Mumia could get a fair hearing from the courts that railroaded him to death row in the first place.”
Speaking on behalf of Justice Action and the Australian Prisoners Union, long-time supporter of the struggle for Mumia’s freedom, Brett Collins, noted “Mumia is the symbol of a generation now, of people who have been arrested for their political beliefs and their activism.” In protesting Mumia’s unjust incarceration, a speaker from Iranian Democratic Unity noted: “We have seen [the] U.S. injustice system in Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons.” The rally was also addressed by a member of the Wollongong Anarchist Collective. A speaker for the Spartacus Youth Club noted: “As part of our fight for socialist revolution we have long been a part of the campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, seeking to win students and others to the need for a class-struggle fight for Mumia’s freedom!”
Spartacist League speaker, Margaret Rodda, told the protest, “We oppose the death penalty on principle and demand its abolition. We do not accord the state the right to decide who lives and dies. While the death penalty was officially abolished in Australia, as previous speakers have made clear, it is applied in practice against the deeply oppressed Aboriginal population in the prisons and police cells. This gives Mumia’s case a deep resonance in this country. The military and police takeover of Aboriginal lands in the Northern Territory––a naked land grab now prosecuted by the Rudd Labor government––has meant more Aborigines in prison and more deaths in custody. It highlights the vicious racism endemic to the capitalist system. We say: Down with the occupation! Cops and military out of Aboriginal communities! The Aboriginal people must not be left to fight alone—mobilise the organised workers’ movement in a class-struggle fight for Aboriginal rights!” During the rally, demonstrators keenly took up the chant “Drop the charges against Lex Wotton now!”, opposing the ongoing racist state persecution of this Aboriginal community activist for protesting the brutal killing of Mulrunji Doomadgee in the Palm Island lockup in 2004. The SL spokesman explained, “Our struggle to free Mumia and all class-war prisoners is part and parcel of our struggle to mobilise the working class and the oppressed to break asunder the hellish prison that is capitalism. This capitalist economic system offers no future for youth, for minorities, for the working class. What is necessary is to mobilise the multiethnic working class for the revolutionary overthrow of Australian imperialism once and for all.”
Over the last two weeks, more than 300 organisations and individuals have endorsed the PDC-initiated united-front demonstrations internationally, including trade unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers. From Australia, endorsers include the Victorian Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia, Chris Cain, State Secretary of the Maritime Union Western Australia Branch, Black Rose Anarchist Library & Books, Aboriginal activists Sam Watson and Jenny Munro, and Workers Radio Sydney. International endorsers include the SUD Rail Workers Union of Paris Left Bank, the Timor Leste Trade Union Confederation, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Locals 241 and 308, Chicago, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)—Western Cape, which issued a statement declaring, “We will stand with the millions of people across the world that are calling for justice to be done and will join the protest against this travesty of justice.” Also endorsing these demonstrations are writer Gilles Perrault in France, and Professor Dr. Heinrich Fink, Chairman of the Association of the Victims of the Nazi Regime—Coalition of Anti-fascists, in Berlin. In Mexico, Senator Rosario Ibarra, the head of the ¡Eureka! defence committee and an endorser of the protests, declared: “Tyranny imposes a duty upon us—to fight it. Mumia fulfills that duty.” For a full list of endorsers go to: www.partisandefense.org/events/index.html#endorsers.
Following the 27 March Court decision, U.S. PDC counsel Rachel Wolkenstein, who served on Mumia’s legal defence from 1995 to 1999, said, “The fight for Mumia’s freedom is at a critical juncture. The statements in defense of Mumia must be turned into mass action, centered on labor’s power. We call on everyone to redouble their efforts to build the upcoming united-front demonstrations.” United front protests will take place in Chicago and Los Angeles on 26 April. For more information: www.partisandefense.org.
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The Partisan Defence Committee is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defence organisation which champions cases and causes in the interest of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League.