“We are approaching the crucial moment in the case of Leonard Peltier. It is time to take action and ask President Obama to pardon him. Leonard is now 72 years old and in poor health. In spite of all the political factors that may have influenced the legal handling of the case, Leonard has been in prison for over 40 years and it is time to let him out.” This is what Frank and Anne Dreaver, in charge of the Canadian Leonard Peltier Defence Committee, came to tell the members of the National Human Rights Committee when they met on December 3 in Ottawa.
Leonard Peltier, Native Leader, Lakota-Anishnabe, Prisoner #89637-132, jailed in U.S.P Coleman 1, Florida, USA
CUPW has been supporting the struggle for the liberation of Leonard Peltier for over 40 years. We were there when his extradition case was heard in the 1970s, when the Defence Committee was established in Canada in the 1980s, when the request for petition for clemency was made to President Clinton in the 2000s and when demonstrations were organized in front of the White House in past years. And we will be there as long as a ray of hope remains for his freedom.
Why? Because Leonard Peltier personifies the struggle of Indigenous peoples against the injustices they suffer in Canada and the United States and the mistrust demonstrated by the law enforcement authorities directed against organizations that assert their rights. The inhumane conditions of the reserve system, such as that occurred in Pine Ridge in the 1970s continues today.
Leonard Peltier represents 500 years of struggle against oppression and colonialism, and for the liberation of all peoples.
Leonard’s request is quite simple:
“I am tired. I want to go home. I want to continue my art work. I want to plant a garden. I want to walk in the forest. I want to walk in the field. I just want to be down on the grass and feel the sun against my skin. I want to be able to hold my family close to me and not have someone tell me time’s up.”
And his request is supported by political and legal authorities all over the world, including Nobel Prize laureates, United Nations representatives, organizations such as the National Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and Amnesty International, as well as thousands of activists and human rights defenders like us.