URGENT: Endorse UN Coalition Report on U.S. Political Prisoners and State Repression!

On November 5, 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder will represent the United States in its first human rights compliance assessment by the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The review will be a public, interactive dialogue between Clinton and Holder and member and observer States of the Council based on reports submitted by the U.S. government, the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and individual and organizational U.S. stakeholders. The Working Group sits in Geneva and is composed of 47 regional member States (countries) of the Human Rights Council.

At the end of the review, the Working Group adopts an outcome document with recommendations.  It is subsequently considered and adopted by the Human Rights Council at a later session.  The United States will indicate which recommendations it supports or accepts and these, among other things, become the basis for future evaluations.  Under the auspices of the U.S. Human Rights Network's UPR Project, COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era Political Prisoners, Prisoners of War, Exiles and Domestic Repression, among other issues, has been submitted for the United States' examination.

Unlike the walk out by the Bush administration of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) and Obama's failure to appear at the 2009 WCAR Review, the U.S. attended this year's Hiroshima Memorial, in Japan, and will be present with cabinet level representation, in Geneva, for its UPR review. Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder's presence suggests that the Obama Administration sees the UPR as a useful forum in which to advance its global charm offensive. Clinton, "elevating the role of diplomacy along with defense" in foreign relations abroad, and Holder, symbolizing the embodiment of human rights enforcement at home, will attempt to maintain the myth of the U.S. as human rights standard bearer.  On one hand lecturing African governments about corruption rather than acknowledging the continuing impact of colonialism and, on the other, holding a three day "Young African Leaders Forum" at the White House challenging them to "bring change to their countries by standing up for freedom, openness, and peaceful disagreement."

Both Clinton and Holder have dealt with the issues of political prisoners and state repression before.  Holder, as assistant attorney general under Bill Clinton, processed the well-deserved commutation of the sentences of 16 FALN (Puerto Rican Independistas) and two North American anti-imperialists. Hillary Clinton, running for U.S. Senate from New York, initially supported and then later withdrew her support for their commutations. Although it continues to hold political prisoners, the Obama Administration chided Cuba for its agreement to release 50 "dissidents," "expressed concern over government repression" in Sudan, Zimbabwe, and North Korea, demanded an investigation of Scotland's humanitarian release of Libya's Abdelbaset Magrahi (so-called Lockerbie bomber), privatized U.S. prisons and allocated funds for "more humane" Afghan and Pakastani prisons to reduce "radicalization" of internees, and continued the Bush adminstration policy of withholding court ordered documents, and crack downs on whistle blowers and journalist.

As the United States attempts to re-brand itself, we must seize the moment to expose its continuing human rights violations, wrest the freedom of our comrades, and reclaim the dignity of our struggle.

TAKE NEEDED ACTION NOW!
1.   Review, endorse, gather endorsements for the reports (www.ushrnetwork.org/campaign_upr), individually and organizationally, by end of business, Wednesday, August 11, 2010, at lbaum@ushrnetwork.org and enjericho@aol.com.

2. Share your human rights story with the UN through the USHRNetwork's Testify! Project (http://www.testfyproject.com/).

3. Organize local committee to learn and follow the UPR Process (http://www.upr-info.org/) and lobby, call/fax/e-mail elected representatives and the president, blog, write letters to editors of local newspapers and magazines and serve as a local organizing/response committee beyond November 5th.

4. Plan November 5th actions at embassies and consulates of UPR Working Group member States and U.S. federal buildings.

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