[Note: Following is an interview with Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, a former member of the Black Panther Party’s Black Liberation Army. He was arrested Aug. 21, 1971 and released from prison Oct. 6, 2020. He spent nearly 50 years in prison because of his activities as a revolutionary fighter in the Black Liberation Army. In 1998, he founded the National Jericho Amnesty Movement. This interview was conducted Oct. 1 by The Organizer editorial board member Alan Benjamin.]
The Organizer: Please tell us about the International Tribunal in the Spirit of Mandela that you are helping to organize on Oct. 22 through 25. What is the significance of this tribunal?
Jalil: I am glad that you asked the question. In 2018, I was held in isolation, in solitary confinement. That’s when I decided that I was going to put out a proposal to convene an international tribunal, with international jurists coming back to the United States to investigate the situation of political prisoners in the U.S.
I say “coming back” because international jurists had come to the United States in 1981. At that time, they documented the situation facing political prisoners in the U.S., and they reported their findings to the United Nations. They interviewed a number of political prisoners – including Leonard Peltier, Sundiata Acoli, and Veronza Bowers. Some of them are still in prison today, 50 years later.
The organization that I founded in 1998, the National Jericho Amnesty Movement, decided that they would support my proposal. So, on Oct. 22 through 25 we will be convening the International Tribunal in the Spirit of Mandela with nine international jurists, and we will be bringing the charge of genocide, with its six specific charges:
1.Racist police killings of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.
2. Hyper incarcerations of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.
3. Political incarceration of Civil Rights/National Liberation-era revolutionaries and activists, as well as present day activists.
4. Environmental racism and its impact on Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.
5. Public Health racism and disparities and its impact on Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, and
6. Genocide of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people as a result of the historic and systemic charges of all the above.
We will be bringing these charges to the attention of the international community. They are charges against the U.S. government, its states, and its specific agencies—all of which are responsible for imposing white supremacy and engaging in genocidal practices.
We are also commemorating the 70th anniversary of the first “We Charge Genocide” campaign brought to the United Nations by the great Paul Robeson and William Paterson. That was on December 17, 1951.
We are commemorating that historic event with the understanding that the conditions that prompted the charges they argued back in 1951 still exist today in 2021.
After the international tribunal, we will proceed with filing charges of genocide in the United States Federal District Court. The court will have to hear our petition, and it will have to respond to our petition of genocide. We will continue to build our campaign, putting forth these violations of our civil rights and human rights before the national and international communities.
And we will be convening the Peoples’ Senate in 2022 based upon the findings of the international tribunal and our petition to the federal district court.
It is our belief that the corporate parties––the Democratic and Republican parties––do not operate in the best interests of the people, and therefore we will start the process of building a campaign toward establishing what we call a Peoples’ Senate.
We will build a campaign for a new narrative. It will be a campaign of people fighting for their own liberation on an independent basis, based on the idea that we are our own liberators. We are therefore moving to build a Peoples’ Senate with the understanding that we need new a new national organization of oppressed people––particularly Black, Brown, and Indigenous People in this country.
This effort will be organized as a national united front, and we’re asking for our supporters and for all progressive people in the United States and throughout the world to join us in this campaign for the Peoples’ Senate in 2022. That is our campaign and that is our projection for what we hope to achieve.
We believe that capitalist imperialism and white supremacy need to be moved into the dustbin of history. We need to force them into the dustbin of history.
The Organizer: How can our readers support the International Tribunal?
Jalil: Your readers can go to our website–– www.spiritofmandela.org––and endorse the call for the international tribunal. We also will be establishing a website for the Peoples’ Senate. We will be putting out more information about our next steps for the Peoples’ Senate on Oct. 25, the date when the international jurists are charged with issuing their verdict.
As for the International Tribunal itself, it will be held Oct. 22 through 25 at the Malcolm X – Betty Shabazz Center in Harlem, New York. It will be a hybrid program for those who are able to attend, but we will also be streaming live over the internet so that people can tap in. Again, you need to go to our website to sign in and register.