September 05, 2011

Peltier wins human rights prize

Jailed Native American activist Leonard Peltier wins rights prize

By Agence France-PresseLeonard Peltier, an indigenous rights activist jailed in the United States for decades, has received the first Mario Benedetti Foundation international human rights prize, the group said Monday.

The group called Peltier, a Native American activist convicted in 1977 for the murder of two US FBI agents, the longest serving political prisoner in the Americas. The case stemmed from a shootout at a reservation in the US state of South Dakota.

"Leonard Peltier, who on September 12, 2011 will turn 67, has spent more than half his life in prison. He is a symbol of resistance to repressive state policies by the United States, where there are people in jail for ethnic, racial, ideological and religious reasons," a foundation statement said.

Ricardo Elena, a member of the foundation's honorary board, said Peltier's case "is one that is repeated over and over: violation (of rights); persecution, eviction, invasion and expropriation of the indigenous people from the time it was 'discovered' until now.
Comment:  I'm not sure Peltier's case involves all those elements. And it's questionable to give someone an award as a "symbol" for others. I'd say give the award to indigenous people as a whole, or to someone who's done more than just passively represent the cause.

For more on Leonard Peltier, see Peltier Calls Churchill a "Phony" and Hip-Hop Album for Leonard Peltier.

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