June 26 is a day of remembrance for many Native Americans across the States, but despite their honoring of a hero, Leonard Peltier, their Day of Anguish is rarely reported.
Over 30 years since entering prison for the murder of two FBI agents, Leonard Peltier remains behind bars. Members of foreign parliaments and even Mother Teresa herself referred to Peltier as a political prisoner that suffered an unfair trial. With former witnesses saying they were arm-twisted by agencies to testify against the Native American, why does Peltier still stay behind bars?
“It’s only because of the FBI’s war against Leonard Peltier that he remains in prison,” says Brian Becker, national coordinator at the ANSWER Coalition. Becker says the trial against Becker was a farce, and even though the evidence used against him turned out to be fraudulent and witnesses lied on the stand, the FBI won’t let him go as they continue to champion a movement against indigenous Americans.
“The FBI is a powerful lobby in the United States,” says Becker. Government agencies and law enforcement keep Peltier behind bars only because they can, he attests. When President Clinton was rumored to be considering a presidential pardon for Peltier, Becker says that the FBI organized demonstrations against a possible parole.
Peltier isn’t incarcerated for an assassination of agency officials, he claims. Rather, Becker says Peltier is behind bars because of “The FBI’s ongoing covert war against the Indian people.”
There was and still is a counter-intelligence program designed to destroy the Indian movement, says Becker. As a champion of human rights and a symbol for the struggle for freedom, justice and civil rights, Peltier should be free.
“On a humanitarian basis, he should be released immediately,” says Becker. Since being incarcerated, Peltier has suffered a stroke, the onset of diabetes and went partially blind.
In the meantime, Becker says the “frame-up” perpetrated by the US government will keep Peltier behind bars.
Even though President Obama has claimed to back Native American rights, he has yet to touch on the topic of the injustices imposed on Leonard Peltier.