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Elections on Hold - Human Rights, Leonard Peltier and Myrtle Poor Bear's Tortured Testimony

The U.S. Presidential Election has divided the two party system pretty equally, and demonstrated, once again, the impact of a third party contender to benefit the opposing side of the liberal-conservative spectrum. A two-party-rule system is what it is. It happened in 1992 when Ross Perot helped Clinton, and in 2000, Nader helped Bush. You would think leaders wouldn't keep making the same mistakes. Perhaps, however, with enough humility, the U.S. could learn a thing or two from young democracies like Russia that hold Elections without the inevitable outcome of the "spoiler," as in the U.S. system for upcoming Parties. In Russia, if there is no majority rule for an election, then a runoff election would allow the peoples' choice between the two leading candidates. Is the U.S. too proud to learn from Russia, or have those who inherited an old archaic system, too corrupt?

Star Wars is on hold since President Clinton has passed the buck on advancing the expensive defensive/offensive weapon system that cannot work for the next President to decide. Gore is noncommittal and Bush wants to accelerate its development. The Bush direction could kill any chance we have to seriously contend with such crises as Global Warming and nuclear proliferation. People better learn to unite soon for human rights, justice and for our very survival.

A good opportunity for a new positive direction for human rights is on December 10, 2000. On this 52nd Anniversary of "Human Rights Day," many people around the world will be focused on the "Countdown to Clemency" campaign to help free Leonard Peltier. Peltier's family and residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation will lead a Truth and Reconciliation Walk, beginning at Noon, from Union Square to the United Nations, NYC. Speakers and cultural activities will be presented from 2:00 to 4:00 P.M. at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. The UN has recognized Leonard Peltier as a Human Rights Defender, who could die in prison unless granted Executive Clemency. Please join this effort for Human Rights and Justice before it's too late. President Clinton has until January 20 to decide the Clemency issue, which could be a beginning for Truth and Reconciliation for Indigenous and all people. Don't wait for the next President to be elected, support Clemency Now - Free Leonard Peltier.
Call the White House Comment Line Weekdays (202)456-1111, 0
Support Presidential Executive Clemency to Free Leonard Peltier
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New York City <> Human Rights Day <> December 10, 2000
Truth and Reconciliation <> Peltier Walk for Freedom

The following articles show much progress for the freedom of Leonard Peltier.

1. An article in the Ottawa Citizen
Topic: United States judge condemns Peltier's extradition from Canada

2. An article in the Globe and Mail
Topic: Myrtle Poor Bear speaks to Canadian Justice

3. Amnesty International press release
Topic: Support for Clemency

These articles can be accessed from

The article on Myrtle Poor Bear is particularly startling and revealing on FBI Misconduct regarding the "interrogation." Although this information was broadcast on CBS TV's "Sixty Minutes" in the early 1990's, the timing of it surfacing now for the Clemency Campaign is very significant. It is important to note, once again, that an illegal land transfer occurred on the day before the shootout at the Incident at Oglala, pertaining to the exploitation of the Earth for U.S. Plutonium mining interests.




Kirk Makin, Justice Reporter, Toronto

Twenty-five years of pent-up fear and guilt gushed from Myrtle Poor Bear as she recanted the utterances that led to aboriginal activist Leonard Peltier being extradited to the United States in 1976 over the murder of two FBI agents.

"I was forced into this, and I feel very awful", the weeping woman testified, at a unique hearing held in a Toronto office tower. "I just wish that Leonard Peltier will get out of prison".

In her first public statement on the case, Ms. Poor Bear testified that she agreed to implicate Mr. Peltier in the 1975 shooting deaths of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in North Dakota only after she had endured months of unrelenting harassment and threats from other FBI agents.

"They told me they were going to take my child away form me. They told me they were going to get me for conspiracy, and I would face 15 years in prison if I didn't co-operate. They said they had witnesses who placed me at the scene."

The 48-year-old woman said her claim that she was Mr. Peltier's girlfriend and that she saw him shoot the agents was utterly false. She testified that she has never met Mr. Peltier, and that she was actually 80 kilometres away at the time of the shooting.

The hearing held to put Ms. Poor Bear's statements on the record, was presided over by the commissioner of several high-profile inquiries - former Quebec Court of Appeal judge Fred Kaufman. The witnesses were questions by Scott Fenton, a former federal prosecutor, and Michael Code, a onetime assistant deputy attorney-general in Ontario.

(Organizers asked The Globe and Mail to delay coverage of the hearing until the U.S. election campaign was over, lest Ms. Poor Bear's testimony spark an inflamed campaign debate.)

The hearing was the latest event in a worldwide effort to free Mr. Peltier, who has languished behind bars since 1977, when he was convicted in the Murders of FBI agents Ray Williams and Jack Cooler on June 25, 1975. Mr. Welter's supporters have long believed the FBI was so incensed by the murders that they went to great lengths to frame Mr. Peltier - including eliciting false affidavits from Ms. Poor Bear in order to bamboozle Canadian authorities.

The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee intends to approach both Prime Minister Jean Chretien and U.S. President Bill Clinton with evidence from the Toronto hearing to convince them the extradition was obtained by fraud.

A member of the committee, Dianne Martin, said there is a realistic possibility Mr. Clinton may grant clemency to Mr. Peltier before he leaves office next January.

"It's not asking a lot, as a Canadian, to have an honest look at the factual foundation under which he was sent back to an unfair trial", Prof. Martin said. "A strong case has now become overwhelming."

"There is a clear pattern of [U.S.] government misconduct. We hope there will be diplomatic pressure from Canada because the only person who can do anything now is President Clinton."

Unfortunately, Prof. Martin said, Canada has dodged the Peltier controversy for years. Justice Minister Anne McLellan even sent a letter to U.S. Attorney-General Janet Reno last year saying that there seemed to be nothing untoward in the case.

"I've seen a lot of things happen in the Peltier case over the years, but that stunned me," Prof. Martin said. "She didn't just keep ducking, she added a nail to the coffin."

Mr. Coler and Mr. Williams were shot during a chaotic, daylong firefight between a large contingent of federal agents and about a dozen Indian activists on North Dakota's sprawling Pine Ridge Reservation. The agents had arrived to investigate the theft of a pair of cowboy boots.

Ms. Poor Bear told the Toronto hearing that several weeks after the shooting, FBI agents started showing up at her workplace. She was allegedly told that she would face dire consequences unless she cooperated with them.

Ms. Poor Bear said she was taken on long drives - sometimes in neighboring states - and confined, incommunicado, for days or weeks at a time in hotel rooms. She said the agents worked continuously to break her resistance.

On rare occasions, she was briefly allowed to return to her family - a daughter, her father and 10 siblings - Ms. Poor Bear said she was ordered to reveal nothing of her ordeal.

"They told me I could go home and by with my family if I signed is [a false affidavit; that they wouldn't bother me any more." Ms. Poor Bear said, "I was telling the agents I didn't want to go through with anything that I didn't know."

Ms. Poor Bear said she was eventually told that word had leaked out on the reservation that she was a FBI informant. She said the agents said that without their protection, she would be killed as a traitor by the American Indian Movement.

Ms. Poor Bear also testified that she was shown autopsy pictures of an Indian activist from Nova Scotia - Anna Mae Quash - who had just been shot to death, execution-style, and dumped in a ravine on the reserve.

"They showed me certain parts of her body that were decomposed." Ms. Poor Bear testified. "They said that's how I was going to end up if I didn't co-operate with them. They said they could kill me and get away with it. [I] was very scared. I got to the point where I believed they would do it.

"They talked to me real mean. They were threatening me mostly every day. I remember that at one point, they hung the autopsy pictures of Anne Mae up in the hotel room wall. I decided to go ahead with what they wanted me to do."

Ms. Poor Bear was drilled for hours on minute details she was expected to memorize and shown models of the murder scene, complete with the positions of each participant. Later, she was taken to see the scene in person. "I recall them saying they had to make the story very serious, because they were going to convict Leonard", Ms. Poor Bear said.

The first affidavit she sore stated that Ms. Poor Bear was far from the shooting scene that day, but that Mr. Peltier - her "boyfriend" - had confessed to her several days later.

As it turned out, Canadian officials did not see this affidavit until after the extradition was approved. Instead, they were given two other affidavits for use at the extradition proceeding. In these, Ms. Poor Bear claimed to have actually witnessed the shooting.

In 1977, the district attorney handling the Peltier murder trial quietly dropped Ms. Poor Bear from his witness list, claiming she was unstable and incredible.

Ms. Poor Bear's sister - Elaine Poor Bear-Martinez - also testified at the recent Toronto hearing and recalled Ms. Poor Bear being at home on the day of the shootout doing laundry.

Ms. Poor Bear told the hearing that the Peltier incident has marred her life. "I'm always fearing for my life - not only mine, but my family." she concluded, tears streaming down her face. "I pray for Leonard every day.

"I want him to be free just as much as you all want to see him free. I would probably rest in peace if I knew he was out of prison."

[Also see: Warren Allmand's Statement on the Leonard Peltier Case ]

For more information contact the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC) (785)842-5774. or call the NYC Free Peltier March Hotline (212)539-6027. Leonard Peltier's book, Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance, is available from bookstores, libraries and the LPDC. Contact the Leonard Peltier Support Group of Greater New England (413)549-2739 for local efforts and transportation to NYC on 12/10. For LPSG/GNE E-mail Updates send an email to: with "Subscribe" in subject field.

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