SOCIETY FOR THREATENED PEOPLES – PRESS RELEASE
Göttingen, September 18, 2015
Pope Francis visits the United States (September 22 to 28, 2015):
Your Holiness, please try to persuade President Obama to pardon the seriously ill Native American civil rights activist Leonard Peltier!
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has sent an urgent appeal to Pope Francis, asking him to use his meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on September 23 to persuade Obama to pardon Leonard Peltier, the seriously ill Native American civil rights activist who is imprisoned in the US. “You often stated how much you feel connected to the Indigenous Peoples of America and have repeatedly asked for forgiveness for the crimes committed against them. Now, please consider the case of Leonard Peltier. The Native American civil rights activist has been detained in the US for 40 years, although he is innocent,” the STP wrote in a letter to the Pope before his departure to Cuba on Friday. “Please recommend President Obama to allow the 71-year-old long-term prisoners, who became seriously ill in prison, to spend the evening of his life in freedom. Due to his charismatic nature, he has become known as the Nelson Mandela of the Native Americans. 40 years of imprisonment are enough for this old man, who – as far as can be judged today – is not guilty of the crimes he was charged with! Please do not let him die in his cell!”
Leonard Peltier was held responsible for the deaths of two FBI-officers who got killed on the Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in 1975 – but he is innocent! Despite the proven formal errors and obstruction of the defense, it was not possible to initiate a revision or a reopening of the case. Thus, being pardoned by president Obama is his only chance to freedom. The 71-year-old is almost blind in one eye after he had a stroke in 1986 – and he is suffering from diabetes and problems with his heart.
Over the years, many prominent voices campaigned on behalf of Leonard Peltier, including the late Simon Wiesenthal, director of the Documentation Centre of the Association of Jewish Victims of the Nazi regime, the Nobel Peace Prize winners Rigoberta Menchu and Nelson Mandela, numerous members of the US Congress, the Canadian, Belgian, Dutch and the European Parliament as well as members of the German Bundestag. Apart from the STP, Amnesty International campaigns for the civil rights activist too.
Contact: Yvonne Bangert, Indigenous Peoples Department
Phone: +49 (0)551 – 499 0614; Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org