August 20, 2013

Justice for Lynne Stewart

Lynne Stewart is a renowned human rights attorney who is currently being held political prisoner by the US government at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Texas. Lynne has worked tirelessly in support of people’s movements and in defense of the oppressed in the US and internationally. Her commitment to movements for liberation both foreign and domestic is shown by a lifetime of struggle against imperialism, racism, and sexism. She has stood up for Muslims and Arab people in a time when the US government seeks to attack not only Muslims and Arabs but anyone who is willing to stand with them. Now she needs our help. In 2002 her office was raided by federal agents and she was falsely charged with “conspiring to provide material support to terrorism” for doing nothing more than operating in her role as an attorney to defend her client.
Lynne has Stage 4 breast cancer and has been given a prognosis of only months to live. Supporters of Lynne are calling for compassionate release which is a legal process that would allow Lynne to be with her family and die with dignity. On August 8, 2013 Lynne Stewart was denied compassionate release by Federal District Court Judge John Koeltl. Lynne has filed a second request for compassionate release.
On July 12 2013 an SDSer gave the following speech in support of Lynne at a rally for Justice for Lynne Stewart in Washington, D.C.:
I am from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and I am here today to demand the immediate release of Lynne Stewart. Lynne has fought tirelessly for the poor, the oppressed, and for all those who struggle for change in this world. She is, without question, a hero of the people of this country and the world.
Even though she was unjustly convicted on fabricated charges, she is asking not for a pardon, not for a reinstatement by the Bar, but just simply that she can be with her family in these precious moments. The Federal Medical Center Carswell Warden Jody R. Upton and South Central Regional Office Director J.A. Keller have recommended compassionate release. However, she has been blocked by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
This is absolutely barbaric and unacceptable. Lynne Stewart has dedicated her life to the principles that everyone deserves a fair hearing and a chance at justice. Instead, they are sadistically keeping her locked up to punish her for a lifetime of service to the movement and the people.
As students, we can clearly see the governments strategy of repression and punishment of activists. Lynne stands against anti-Muslim bigotry and against imperialism and endless wars. Currently, the US government is waging a campaign of fear to criminalize and imprison Muslims and Arab-American at home in an effort to justify and promote US war and occupation in the Middle East and Asia. They are attempting to deter us from carrying forward the struggle against war and racism and advancing the movement. However, all we have to do is look to Lynne Stewart’s life of selfless struggle to realize the necessity of struggling against this system of injustice.
At our last SDS conference we approved a resolution to stand against political repression of all kinds. The case of Lynne Stewart is clearly a case of political repression. She is not being held because of any alleged criminal behavior. She is being held because of her political opinions and her courage to speak truth to power. She is being held because she is willing to fight for the oppressed. We take courage and hope from her example and we will continue to struggle as she has.
As an organizer for the upcoming annual SDS National Convention in Clarksville this October, just a few days after Lynne’s birthday, I can state definitively that I will demand that Students for a Democratic Society support Lynne and that her struggle to be with her family will become front and center. This is oppression plain and simple. It is brutal and ugly and we will not stand for it
We will not rest, we will not wait, so long as there is no justice for Lynne Stewart!
To learn more about the case and to sign the petition demanding compassionate release for Lynne go You can also call to urge these offices to grant compassionate release:
White House, President Barack Obama: 202-456-1414
Attorney General Eric Holder: 202-514-2001
Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Charles Samuels: 202-307-3250