14 Freedom for political prisoners and prisoners of war and justice for victims of human rights violations

Final Resloution for Workshop 14
Approved by the Plenary of the ILPS First International Assembly
25-27 May 2001
Zutphen, The Netherlands

Freedom for political prisoners and prisoners of war and justice for victims of human rights violations

In most countries, basic human rights of the toiling masses and the oppressed are not fully enjoyed nor protected. The vast majority of the world’s humanity are denied of their basic civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, and are effectively marginalized from political processes established for and dominated by the interests of imperialism and its landlord-big business cohorts. Gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are committed in the course of the implementation of the policies of imperialist globalization.

The accumulation of capital in optimizing profits is pushing states to be more and more repressive and the people’s rights are more and more suppressed. As the people resist the impositions of imperialism, state apparatuses — the courts, laws, jails, military — are all used to violate, if not completely deny with impunity, the basic human rights of the people. In spite of their being signatories to various human rights instrumentalities and international humanitarian laws, states are able to circumvent provisions of such instruments by putting forward notions of national security, state of emergency, and/or economic development. In fact, the worst and biggest violator of human rights in the world — the United States — declares itself as the biggest democracy and protector and defender of human rights. In actuality, the US holds more people in prison than any other country – two (2) million and 150 political prisoners.

The number of victims of various forms of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law continues to increase; from warrantless arrests, unjust and arbitrary detention, violations of due process, torture, forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, disappearances, mass displacement, militarization, and other blatant forms of human rights violations. The victims of these violations are the basic sectors like the workers, peasants, women and children, the migrants, the minorities who are the powerless and voiceless in society.

Arrest and detention of people opposed to the policies of globalization like workers, peasants and other oppressed sectors, members of the revolutionary movements fighting for national freedom and genuine democracy, minorities, and native and indigenous peoples who are all asserting their basic human rights are happening all over the world. This gives rise to the continuing existence of political prisoners who are kept in different conditions in jails worldwide but whose political resolve to fight for changes in society the states would like to break. Most of these political prisoners are denied due process, suffered torture and, in extreme cases, are attacked, maimed, disappeared and killed even inside prisons, as happen among Turkish political prisoners.

In most cases, states systematically conceal the existence of political prisoners by slapping criminal charges, instead of political offenses, against them. Through this, not only are the states able to conceal the violation of arresting persons because of their political beliefs, but they are “legally” able to hold political prisoners for longer periods inside prisons. By calling them common criminals and terrorists, states try to hide the real reason for their incarceration people’s active resistance and revolutionary struggle. Leaders and members of revolutionary organizations, when apprehended and imprisoned, are not called prisoners of war so that international laws are not applied to them. Instead, they are branded as terrorists and common criminals. Criminalization of political offenses is being resorted to by the states even as this completely violates their own laws.

To break the will and resolve of political prisoners, states try to keep them in the worst conditions that can be possibly imposed. Political prisoners are kept in jails that are damp and congested; sent to prisons that are far from their families and, in worst cases, thrown in isolated prison cells that deny them human touch like the cases of Mumia Abu-Jamal of the United States, Abimael Guzman of Peru and the Turkish political prisoners. Restrictions or denial of visits of friends, families, counsel and supporters are common.

States unleash the worst punishment for political prisoners perceived as being leaders of revolutionary movements. The death penalty is meted out specifically to Mumia Abu-Jamal, Abimael Guzman, and to hundreds of Turkish political prisoners.

The struggle for justice for victims of human rights violations must always be pursued. Whenever possible, and as far as can be achieved, the components of justice — i.e. admission of guilt of the violator, apology to the victims, indemnification of the victims of human rights violations, prosecution of the violators and a promise not to repeat the crime — must be realized in our struggle.

Vigilance must be exerted in relating with non-government organizations that offer resources for the victims and declare themselves as members of civil society but who, in fact, wittingly or unwittingly, are used by states to maintain the status quo.

The oppressed and exploited peoples must therefore wage a relentless struggle to defend, protect and promote the human rights of the toiling masses and the oppressed. The struggle for human rights is an integral part of the people�s struggle against imperialism and all the ruling classes that perpetuate the system of oppression and exploitation.

NOW, THEREFORE, we the members of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), hereby RESOLVE, as it is hereby RESOLVED to:

  1. Fight to end all forms of human rights violations and all cases and forms of injustice by supporting the promotion and protection of human rights.

  2. Strengthen solidarity and networking among human rights organizations and conduct coordinated efforts and struggles.

  3. Conduct initiatives to investigate human rights violations and call for the prosecution and punishment of all perpetrators of human rights violations.

  4. Support the call for justice and indemnification of human rights victims.

  5. Strive for the formation of an International Tribunal that will hear cases filed and pass judgments on violators of human rights.

  6. Demand for the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of war.

Within the immediate period, we hereby resolve to undertake efforts toward:

  1. Linking-up with other human rights organizations for information-exchange.

  2. Creating an international watchdog to highlight the issue of political prisoners, prisoners of war and victims of human rights violations in all countries.

  3. Launching specific and parallel campaigns calling for the:

    1. Stop to the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal and demand for his release after 20 years of incarceration in the US; granting him a new trial and that during the trial, demonstrations in different countries be conducted to demand his release; or if a new trial is denied, protest demonstrations be conducted;

    2. End to the 8-year inhuman and illegal isolation of Dr. Abimael Guzman (Chairman Gonzalo) in a specially-constructed underground dungeon in Peru; access to lawyers; and visits from family and friends;

    3. Stop to the planned transfer of Turkish political prisoners to F-type prison cells;

    4. Release of Donato Continente from the National Penitentiary in the Philippines and stop American intervention in his case.

  4. Saluting the initiative of US human rights organizations and support groups of holding a conference in solidarity with US political prisoners to be held in Cuba in November 2001.

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