Note This is a rant. I speak only for myself. In no way do I speak for the community of American Indians on this blog or anywhere else. My rant should be understood as reflecting my personal feelings at this specific hour.
I am not the one who should ask this question. But it irks me so much to hear that President Putin could pardon M. Khodorkovsky, who is now in Germany, but President Obama can't get over himself to pardon Leonard Peltier. Why not?
President Putin, who surprised Russians and gave a brief lift to the stock market by announcing Khodorkovsky's pardon on Thursday, said he was acting out of "principles of humanity" because Khodorkovsky's mother was ill.Below are some thought, I wished I had the guts to write about directly to President Obama. But I have to calm myself down and be a little bit more polite in my wording. Feel free and yell at me and edit my words and thoughts. Or better yet, start writing a petition for L. Peltier.
A Russian government source said freeing his best-known and potentially most powerful critic could deflect international complaints about Putin's human rights record as Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics at Sochi in seven weeks' time.
Dear Mr. President:
Mr. President, allow me to ask you this: If President Putin can claim "Principles of Humanity" for his pardon of M. Khodorkovsky (in addition to imprisoned green peace activists and many more Russian prisoners), I am sure you too have many, many "Principles of Humanity" to show for.
But they are difficult to detect these days considering the fact that you are the President who has pardoned very few prisoners. I was reminded today of that and to be honest it does upset me.
Therefore I ask you politely to please take the time and visit the website of Leonard Peltier's Defense Committee. When you have a calm moment during the Christmas holidays, Mr. President, cuddle down with your daughters and your wife read with them Leonard Peltier's book "My Life is My Sun Dance" and discuss with them a potential pardon.
In the words of the book's editor, Harvey Arden:
"Leonard Peltier's powerful memoir, a Native American spiritual testament, will shake the conscience of the nation... & the world. It's a flaming arrow aimed at the circled wagons of American injustice."It shook my conscience, it shook the conscience of Queen Elizabeth and the European Parliament. Former First Lady Danielle Mitterand of France called for the release of Leonard Peltier. Desmond Tutu called it:
A deeply moving & very disturbing story of a gross miscarriage of justice & an eloquent cri du coeur of Native Americans for redress and to be regarded as human beings with inalienable rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution. We pray that it does not fall on deaf ears. America owes it to herselfMr. President, in my opinion you owe this pardon to yourself and to the American people.
I beg you to consider Leonard's Human Rights Achievements, which are these among others (copied from Peltier's Defense Team):
Leonard’s Human Rights AchievementsPeltier is in prison since 1977, now full 36 years. Please consider that Leonard Peltier is now 69 years old. Whatever hesitations you might have had to not pardon Leonard Peltier, they seem to me, in theses days, to be rather incomprehensible, unreasonable and heartless .
Advocate of peaceful resolution of all issues that deal with Native Americans; always taking a non-violent approach and argued for respect for rights of others.
Has helped several prisoners rehabilitate themselves by advocating drug and alcohol free life styles while encouraging pride and knowledge in their cultures and traditions.
Has been key in getting people from different tribes, with a history of animosity, to come together in peace.
Has worked with Dr. Steward Selkin of New York (ear, nose, and throat specialist) on efforts to restructure health delivery systems on reservations. A pilot program on Rosebud was undertaken in order to document needs and requirements for delivery and care. This is known as the Leonard Peltier Health Care Reform Package, and the ultimate intent is to fundamentally alter health care delivery on reservations throughout the US. Substance abuse programs are an important part of this program.
Has worked with professor Jeffery Timmons on a job creation/job training program to stimulate reservation based economics and investments in Native American business enterprises.
Also worked with Professor Timmons on a youth entrepreneur p<strong>rogram for reservation kids to teach them to learn how to establish and run their own businesses.
In 1992 he established a scholarship at New York University for Native American students seeking law degrees.
Instrumental in the establishment and funding of a Washington (state) Native American newspaper by and for Native young people.
Has been the sponsoring father of two children in Childreach, one in El Salvador, and the other in Guatemala.
Serves on the board of the <strong>Rosenberg Fund for Children.
Donates his artwork to several human rights and social welfare organizations in order to help them raise funds. This most recently includes the ACLU, Trail of Hope (a Native American conference dealing with drug and alcohol addiction), World Peace and Prayer Day, the First Nation Student Association, and the Buffalo Trust Fund.
By donating his paintings to the LPCF, he was also able to raise substantial supplies for the people of Pine Ridge after last year’s devastating tornado hit and caused a multitude of damage on the reservation.
He has been widely recognized for his efforts and has won several human rights awards, including the North Star Frederick Douglas Award, Humanist of the Year Award, and the International Human Rights Prize.
Listen to the words Leonard Peltier wrote a long time ago, Mr. President:
Doing time creates a demented darkness of my own imagination; doing time does this thing to you. But of course, you don't do time. You do without it. Or rather, time does you. Time is a cannibal that devours the flesh of your years day by day, bite by bite.Mr. President, do you want to wait til time has eaten bite by bite the being of Leonard Peltier til nothing is left?
Here I am reminded of something. We used to keep as young teenage German school girls a little book in which our best friends and family members wrote something that we were supposed to remember together with them for our lifetime. One girl wrote the following German saying in my book:
Du rennst im Kreis und suchst ein Loch? Du rennst umsonst! Begreif es doch! Besinn dich! Ein einz'ger Ausweg bleibt dir noch: Geh in dich! Erich Kästner
(Round about translation: You run in a circle and look for a hole? You run in vain! Understand that! Bethink yourself! There is but one way out. Turn inside to yourself and search your soul.)
May be that would be a thought you would consider, Mr. President?
Please pardon Leonard Peltier.