On October 21, 2015, Patrick Le Hyaric, a member of the European Parliament and Vice Chair of the European United Left, sent a formal letter to Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Le Hyaric’s letter announced that he’d be traveling with a French delegation to Pennsylvania to meet with Mumia Abu-Jamal in person, and would like also to meet with Mr. Nutter about Mumia’s condition.
The letter and visit were prompted by the expressed “alarm” of people all over Europe, at Mumia’s suffering months of debilitating complications from a potentially fatal but very treatable and curable illness (hepatitis C), for which he has been denied care. And this is occurring within a prison system, among many others within the U.S., that outright refuses to treat prisoners for this and other deadly and highly contagious viruses.
Why the French?
Why, in the face of Amerika’s incessantly denouncing the human rights violations of its enemies, would a delegation of its own European allies feel the need to visit the U.S. to bring attention to Mumia’s and other U.S. prisoners’ medical situations? Why indeed? Perhaps it’s because Amerika’s behavior amounts not only to human rights violations, but replicates mistreatments of prisoners by the German Nazis, for which several were tried and imprisoned or hanged as war criminals following World War II. Perhaps, too, it’s because Europe, France in particular, sees frightening reminders in Amerika’s actions, of their own terrible intimate experiences with overt fascism and terroristic violence against critical journalists.
The world knows that Mumia has been living in the U.S. officials’ crosshairs for decades, all because of his critical journalism which has frequently and fearlessly exposed the lies, hypocrisies, and outright murderous anti-human practices and designs of the U.S. government in service to wealthy corporate interests.
From police gunning him down in cold blood on the streets of Philly, to trumped up kangaroo court proceedings presided over by a racist judge who went on record vowing to help hang “the nigger” (referring to Mumia) that landed him on death row for decades, to his now having contracted the deadly hepatitis C virus for which he is being denied basic necessary treatment and curative care.
The world also knows that the only reason Mumia has so far narrowly survived these repeated efforts to murder him, is because the voices of its collective masses have been raised in continuous chorus in defense of his life and against Amerika’s vile designs against him.
French sensibilities cannot but be disturbed by Mumia’s plight as a targeted critical journalist.
Undressing U.S. fascism
On January 7, 2015, France suffered a deadly attack against its satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which saw dozens of its staffers gunned down, much as U.S. police had targeted Mumia. The world joined the French masses in a united mass assembly in protest of such efforts to silence critical media with violent terror, just as many mass rallies have convened across the world and in France over the decades in protest of Mumia’s plight.
It’s no wonder, then, that U.S. President Barack Obama, was conspicuously absent from the gathering of heads of other world states in France, in their show of unity with the French masses’ assembly against the Charlie Hebdo attacks and in symbolic defense of critical speech.
The French also cannot but recall the crimes of the Nazis, who occupied and set up the puppet Vichy government in France, which the French masses rose up against in a civil war. They, and all of Europe, must remember the Nazi concentration camps – of Holocaust notoriety – in which millions, including those who spoke out against and criticized the Nazis, and “racial” minorities, were tortured, butchered, and massacred.
They certainly remember the Nuremburg Trials after the War where Europe and Amerika put Nazi officials on trial and imprisoned or executed many of them for crimes against humanity, including deliberately allowing contagious diseases to go untreated and run rampant in those concentration camps, exactly as the U.S. is doing now to its racially targeted prisoner population in general and to Mumia in particular.1
Recall, during the Nuremburg Trials, U.S. officials announced, in embodying the Nuremburg Code, that the U.S. will be accountable for the same violations in the future for which the Nazis were. As U.S. Supreme Justice and Nuremburg prosecutor Robert H. Jackson stated:
“If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."2
Of course this pronouncement was purely rhetorical. In fact, in 1946, when the U.S. led in establishing the World Court, it created a condition that it cannot be prosecuted under international treaties and the United Nations Charter; and has since held that the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction over it. This explains why a European delegation is confined to making a humble appeal to low level officials, rather than taking high level ones before an international tribunal on human rights violations and crimes against humanity, such as for the present treatment of Mumia and other U.S. prisoners.
But of course, France also remembers U.S. “handling” of the worst Nazi War criminals like Klaus Barbie, who headed the Gestapo in Lyons, France and slaughtered Slavs, Jews, and French Resistance fighters (including Jean Moulin, the head of the Resistance).
The U.S. used Barbie, also known as “The Butcher of Lyons”, to spy on France and Germany after the War, and to protect him from war crimes prosecutions, helped sneak him out of Europe to Bolivia via the Vatican-run “ratline”, where he continued his bloody career until France finally got ahold of him (despite efforts of the CIA to protect him) in 1983. He was there prosecuted, found liable for the deaths and deportations of many thousands, and sentenced to life imprisonment.3
Certainly, the French have not forgotten nor overlooked Amerika’s sordid practices and its continued implications in the treatment of Mumia and its millions of others imprisoned. The thing is, most Amerikans don’t know of these things, and it is by design that they don’t, which is why officials determinedly persecute and aim to kill critical messengers like Mumia. This is why he has been under attack for decades, and why we cannot allow them to now succeed in murdering him by medical neglect.
Dare to struggle! Dare to win!
All Power to the People!
- For classifications of crimes for which the Nuremberg defendants were tried, see Agreement for the Prosecution and Punishment of the Major War Criminals of the European Axis Powers and Charter of the International Military Tribunal (“Four Powers Agreement”, 59. Stat. 1544, 82 U.N.T.S. 279, Sept. 10, 1945) in Burns H. Weston et al., eds., Basic Documents in International Law and World Order (St. Paul, MN: West, 1990), pp. 138 -139. [↩]
- Quoted in Richard A. Falk, “The Circle of Responsibility, Nation, January 26, 1970, p. 77. [↩]
- See, e.g., Christopher Simpson, Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and its Effects on the Cold War (NY: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988), pp. 185-195; Erhard Dabringhaus, Klaus Barbie: The Shocking Story of How the U.S. Used This Nazi War Criminal as an Intelligence Agent – A First Hand Account (Washington: Acropolis, 1984); John Loftus, The Belarus Secret (NY: Knopf, 1982), ch. 5; Tom Bower, Klaus Barbie: The “Butcher of Lyons” (NY: Pantheon, 1984); Kai Hermann, “A Killer’s Career”, Stern (Germany), May 10 and following, 1984 (six part series based upon declassified U.S. government documents and interviews conducted in Bolivia); Alexander Cockburn et al., Whiteout: The C.I.A. Drugs and the Press (London: Verso, 1998), chs. 6 and 7; etc. [↩]