On the 17th, among the last round of commuted sentences and presidential pardons, Chelsea Manning has had her sentence officially commuted and will be released May 17th of this year. As well, resistance hero Oscar Lopez Rivera (one of the leaders of the FALN of Puerto Rico) has also had his sentence commuted, in a surprising, but nonetheless welcome turn of events after nearly four decades in prison. But for all the joy we must express over their release, we do not forget who it was who put them there. Further, we can never truly be satisfied until we know that the same freedom is secured for all political prisoners, not just two. The release of Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez Rivera has not even come close to numbing the pain felt by Anti-Imperialists everywhere for the continued imprisonment of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu Jamal, and the many others who remain imprisoned for their resistance to empire and to genocide.

The liberals have set about deifying Obama, already nostalgic about his reign of terror around the world before he even leaves office! We shouldn’t forget that in light of this short-lived display of false conscience, Obama has incarcerated many more government whistleblowers than he has freed, deported many millions more migrants than he has offered amnesty, and incarcerated so many more poor and colonized people on drug charges than he has absolved. What’s more is the fact that, despite promises of “transparency” a sentence of thirty-five years was given to Chelsea Manning who attempted to inform the world of the acts of genocide—labeled “collateral damage”—being carried out in the occupied countries. A sentence designed to break her, physically and otherwise. Or Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has been incarcerated for decades, eight years of which were under Obama, for resisting the colonial occupation of his country. What do these “commuted sentences” really mean?

This isn’t an attempt to “right wrongs” on behalf of the ruling administration, after all to “commute” a sentence is to recognize guilt, but lessen the punishment. They are not going to allow the soon-to-be ex-political prisoners any freedom to lead what’s left of their shattered lives in peace. They have forever branded them as terrorists and traitors. They tortured them, and confined them with almost no chance of ever setting foot outside again and now they expect us to see them as saints for deciding they’ve “had enough” and can be released? We reject this attitude. It goes without saying that there never should have been decades-long sentences, to convince them they would surely die in prison. There should be a full admission of guilt on the part of the united $tates government for having imprisoned them in the first place! There should be a full admission of guilt to the charges that they had brought against them, not the other way around! Furthermore, there should be a full admission of guilt in all the torturous cases of political prisoners held in confinement through the course of this wretched country’s existence. But we know the imperialist will never do this, so it remains the duty of progressive humanity to accuse, to try and ultimately sentence them.

Obama wants the world to remember him as a great fighter for the progress of humanity, and to thank him for all he has done to accomplish that goal.[1] Progressive humanity does not waste the strength to spit in his direction.. The united $tates is the only guilty party, not the long list of political prisoners; we will never be content until there is a full recognition of their innocence, and the full recognition of amerika’s guilt. The man who carried out millions of deportations, who has condemned freedom-fighters to death, and who has continued the long and terrible legacy of bombing unarmed people in the name of “freedom” will continue, with all the help of a weaponized liberal nostalgia, to rewrite the history of his own presidency to depict a “merciful progressive”. These prisoners deserve nothing less than absolution, which Obama had a near-unlimited power to grant them. To commute their sentences and affirm their “guilt” was an insult to justice. We stand with the billions who affirm that the great satan has no right to hand down such condemnations.

Our assertion is not that none of these people have done what they were accused of—although some truly haven’t. Our assertion is that what these people have done is not criminal, but in pursuit of real justice. The guilty cannot “forgive” the innocent.


[1] Let’s take a closer look at “all he has done” shall we? Ten times as many drone strikes as bush; 2.5 million deportations; his corrupt use of the espionage act to silence whistleblowers; the war in Afghanistan that never really ended; his destructive war-mongering in Libya; and all the headline news about Syria for the past 5 years detailing his failed attempt to destroy another independent Third World country.

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History, National Liberation, News and Analysis, Prisons, US/Canada


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