Nobel Peace Prize laureates are calling for all charges to be dropped against eight former Black Panthers

Free the SF-8 Committee, November 30, 2007

Nobel Peace Prize laureates are calling for all charges to be dropped against eight former Black Panthers

At a press conference held at the Interfaith Church Center, World Council of Churches representative Lois M. Dauway officially released the International Call on the San Francisco Eight, a document drafted to bring the attention and the solidarity of the global peace and human rights community to the case. The Call, currently signed by three Nobel Peace laureates and two activists in leadership positions with Nobel peace prize winning organizations, is based on internationally recognized principles of prisoner rights, human rights, and against all forms of torture. Dauway, a senior executive of the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church, stated: “The time has come to set free those who have been bound. The case of the SF8 requires all of us to come together, and take an active stand for justice for all U.S. political prisoners.”

In addition to Nobel peace related and church organizations, the International Call will bring world-wide and key regional associations into direct contact with the Committee in Defense of Human Rights, and other groups working on behalf of the SF8. Intended also as a tool for local activists within the U.S. to help reach out to local religious and community based organizations, the Call will eventually be used to put pressure on both federal and local California authorities to see that justice is done for all members of the Eight, and all who have suffered torture at the hands of the U.S. criminal justice system. Call organizer and War Resisters International activist Matt Meyer reported that interest in the Call has already been generated amongst the founders of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, in academic circles, and in key constituencies across three continents. “We have a great opportunity,” he noted, “and a great responsibility to bring news of this case far beyond our usual circles, until justice is finally done.”

The full text and current signers of the International Call is attached and below.

International Call on the San Francisco 8

Given our commitment to and history in the global justice and human rights movements,

Given our commitment to reconciliation between peoples and governments,

Given that the U.S. government and Federal Bureau of Investigation has been shown, through past U.S. Congressional hearings and legal proceedings, to have been involved in illegal policing activities against civil and human rights organizations;

Given that these illegal activities, epitomized by the FBI Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPRO), targeted the Black Panther Party, and appears to have an ongoing presence;

Given that eight former Black Panthers–men now all in their fifties, sixties, and seventies-were arrested on January 23, 2007;

Given that these arrests were based on charges related to a 1971 murder, a murder investigated and brought to court in 1975 with the charges dismissed;

Given that no new evidence has been uncovered, and that the alleged evidence in the 1973 investigation was thrown out of court due to a judicial finding that statements were made under conditions of extreme torture, including: electric shock, cattle prods, beatings, sensory deprivation, plastic bags and hot, wet blankets for asphyxiation; and

Given that these new charges amount to little more than continued governmental harassment, violating basic principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture;

We call on all appropriate legal and governmental authorities to:

Investigate and end all incidents of torture within the U.S. criminal justice system;

Drop all current charges for all eight men in question, namely: Herman Bell, Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Henry W. (Hank) Jones, Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), Richard O’Neal, Harold Taylor, and Francisco Torres;

Convene official investigations into the ongoing legacy and possible continued operation of COINTELPRO and similar programs, with an eye towards true reconciliation and human rights based on internationally recognized standards and principles; and

Release immediately, on humanitarian grounds, Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom)-each of whom has served over thirty years of disproportionately long sentences based on the COINTELPRO criminalization of the Black Panther Party and the U.S. civil rights movement.

The Most Reverend Dr. Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa; Nobel Peace Laureate 1984

Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Community of Peace People, Northern Ireland; Nobel Peace Laureate 1976

Betty Williams, Community of Peace People, Northern Ireland; Nobel Peace Laureate 1976

Darryl Jordan, Director-American Friends Service Committee* Third World Coalition (Nobel Peace Laureate 1947)

William Wardlaw, Executive Director’s Leadership Council, Amnesty International* (Nobel Peace Laureate 1977)

* Organizations listed for identification purposes only

For more information on the International Call, contact: Matt Meyer, War Resisters International, 339 Lafayette Street, NY 10012 USA mmmsrnb@igc.org; and the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, http://www.freethesf8.org

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