Sunday 30 March 2008

Now Mumia must be freed!

The news that Mumia Abu Jamal is no longer on death row in the US (BBC News: US court overturns death sentence) is welcome as far as it goes. But it is no cause for celebration - Mumia has not been freed, and has not even been granted the retrial he has been demanding for decades, merely a new sentencing hearing.

Mumia Abu Jamal is a former member of the Black Panther Party, a socialist organisation which fought for black people's rights in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Following the smashing of the Black Panthers by the American Establishment, he went on to become a journalist and radio presenter. In 1981, while working part-time as a taxi driver, he was framed for the murder of a policeman. After an extremely flawed trial, where racism was abundant, he was sentenced to death. Yet, even while he was on death row, Mumia - a brave and deeply political man - continued to write about the injustices of capitalist society, raging against the system yet rarely mentioning his own plight! For more info about Mumia and his campaign, visit the Free Mumia Abu Jamal Coalition website.

Mumia's case, sadly, is far from unique. Indeed, it is the tip of a grotesque iceberg; the death penalty is routinely used in many US states - especially Texas, from where president George W Bush hails. A disproportionate number of people executed in the US are black, even people with learning difficulties or mental illness have been put to death. No wonder anti-capital punishment campaigners in the US call to an end to "the racist death penalty"!

Thankfully, here in the UK, we no longer have the death penalty - despite regular calls from sections of the Establishment, notably Tory MPs and their allies in the right-wing press, to have it brought back. The thought of bringing back capital punishment fills me with horror as, like the US, the UK has no shortage of miscarriages of justice; prominent examples include the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and Bridgewater Four. And as the government passes more and more 'catch all' laws (such as ever more ill-defined "anti-terrorist" legislation), and as Police are demanding - and being granted - more and more powers, the risk of such miscarriages of justice can only increase.

I guess there's no wonder the US Establishment (and sections of the UK Establishment) are so gung-ho about the death penalty. To see how cheaply they value life, we only have to look at their wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and any other country which refuses to do the imperialist West's bidding, where men, women and children are slaughtered for oil, money and power.

Mumia is no murderer, and should be free. Bush, Blair, Brown et al, on the other hand, are murderers who should be rotting in jail!

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