Socialist Worker

The voice of the struggle rings out from death row

Issue No. 1681

Mumia must live! Read his writings

The voice of the struggle rings out from death row

IN JUST over four weeks time a US judge will begin considering whether radical black journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal will be put to death or will be granted a retrial. Mumia, a former Black Panther, was framed for murder. To understand why the police and the US state hate Mumia, all you need to do is read his words.

The illusion of international law

"THE VERY term "international law" evokes in us a sense of calm, arising from the near certainty that an umbrella of law shields and protects us from the raging downpour of chaos. So often have we heard the words, that it now echoes inconsciousness, as a thing unquestioned. The late revered Malcolm X taught that history is best equipped to reward our research, so let us look to history. Over a million ethnic Armenians were annihilated under Turkey's Ittihad Party, and millions of Jews were massacred under Germany's Nazi Party. These historic horrors arose in a world where the Geneva Conventions (of 1864 and 1906) and the Hague Conventions (of 1899 and 1907) forbade war crimes, protected the prisoners of war, and ordered protection and respect for civilians and private property. International law, it turns out, is the creation of the ruling class elites, on behalf of elites. Millions of so-called "stateless peoples" (like Jews of World War Two or Armenians of World War One) were sacrificed to the national interests of the "International Community" who saw them as expendable. In the end, it didn't matter what was written on paper, in the glazed texts of law books, nor in scripted treaties. International law bowed to national (economic) interests, and the weak fell before the strong. Here was the grim historical blueprint for Bosnia, for Rwanda, and for genocides to come."

  • May 1988

The poor still suffer

"FOR MILLIONS of poor people in America, poverty is their daily reality. Homelessness isn't a thing of the past, it is an enduring burden upon the spirit. In the ongoing War Against the Poor that is politically popular in America today, the poor are getting truly poorer and the rich are getting it all. There are jobs out there, but at levels that barely approach subsistence. Capital is strengthened, labour is weakened and the poor are simply crushed, expendable. This then is Clinton's gift to the poor. Clinton has always been the darling of the wizards of Wall Street, those who own wealth, and it's in their interest to keep labour in constant terror of starvation. For millions of people in America the rising of the Dow Jones Average, the stocks and bond volumes increasing, the raging markets mean next to nothing at all. They live a bare and frugal existence, hoping tomorrow will be better than the hellish yesterday."

  • November 1998

Why a war on the poor?

"SEVERAL WEEKS ago French unemployed took to the streets nationally, rocking the neo-liberal establishment with a wave of militant demonstrations. This remarkable mobilisation showed the power of a movement of unemployed, that beat back the state's attempts to cut back on French income maintenance programmes. That movement leaped across the border to Germany, where marches sprung up in over 200 cities. We can learn from the French who did not hesitate to organise and mobilise the poor and unemployed. The slogan of the French bears repeating: "Who sows misery, reaps rage." The politicians ain't the solution-the people are. Let us organise."

  • February 1998

US out of Yugoslavia!

"NATO IS but a figleaf for American interests and the bombing of Yugoslavia is but a global demonstration of the ruthlessness of the American empire. Consider the case of the Palestinians, the Kurds, the East Timorese, the Colombian rebels-who has the US supported, the oppressed or the US armed governments? This isn't about "human rights". It isn't about "ethnic minorities". And it also isn't about "genocide". It's about establishing who's boss in the next century. It's about keeping Russia in its place. It's about keeping the European Union under the thumb of Wall Street. The bombing of Serbia is an echo of the bombing of three other countries in the past six months-of Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan. And for precisely the same reason-to show that it can be done, to instil terror, to establish a New World Order."

Zapatista Dreams

"OVER 500 years after European conquest of the Americas, the native indigenous peoples still live on the margins of society and are the poorest of the poor, the people most dispossessed of so-called "New World" populations. Many of us forget that so-called "Indians", not Africans, were the first slaves of the Americas, pressed into service by Admiral Cristobal Colon (known to the Americans as Christopher Columbus) and crew to dig for gold, and if felt they were unproductive, their hands were chopped off. This Columbian injustice was the opening which brought genocide to untold millions of natives and transformed an ancient Indian world into a "New" white one. Every country in this hemisphere rests upon the shattered bones of native genocide. In the southernmost "kneecap" of Mexico, in Chiapas state, an indigenous revolutionary movement is growing. Named after the Indian revolutionary Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919), whose forces fought the Spanish dictator Porfirio Diaz under the slogan Liberty and Land, the Zapatistas draw their strength and their vision from the most oppressed segments of Mexican life. That they exist is something of a miracle, and they bring something to life's table that is wonderful."

  • May 1997

Privilege of empire

"WITH THE dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, there is only one real superpower left in the world, and superpowers make their own rules. Who's to stop them? In an age of the American empire, the entire world is open to US exploitation. As in 1986 Libya or 1983 Grenada (when US forces bombed and invaded, respectively), nothing quite cures the political ailments of an embattled presidential administration like the rocket's red glare, preferably against a brown or a black nation. In the nauseous throes of L'affaire Lewinsky, the prospect of bombing African and Afghan sites must've seemed attractive indeed."

  • August 1998

Warlust again (Iraq II)

"ONCE AGAIN we are in the maw of war. The deaths of Iraqi men, women and children to protect the corporate interests of Western industry. Is there something obscene here? American politicians and their PR specialists are revving up for death. American women talk of "collateral damage" on TV, as if they are talking about washing dishes, not the tortured, horrific deaths of babies. Once more into the breach-for oil!"

  • February 1998

A quiet and deadly violence

"IN THE struggles over the commons in Europe, when the peasants struggled and lost their battles for their communal lands, violence was sanctified, by church and crown. The law was, and is, a tool of state power, utilised to protect the status quo, no matter how oppressive that status quo was, or is. No system that causes this kind of harm to people should be allowed to remain. Systems must serve life or be discarded. Such systems must pass away, so that their great and terrible violence passes away with them."

  • September 1998

How you can help

Rush letters demanding a retrial to Judge William H Yohn Jr, c/o Leonard Weinglass, 6 West 20th Street, Suite 10a, New York, NY 10011, US. Book transport and build for the national demonstration to save Mumia's life. Organise local petitioning and campaigning meetings. For more information contact the Mumia Must Live! Campaign on 020 7538 5821.

  • Mumia must live! National demonstration 
  • Sat 4 March Central London, assemble 1pm, 
  • Embankment Tube, 
  • rally Trafalgar Square

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Article information

Thu 27 Jan 2000, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1681
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