The following statement by Leonard Peltier was read by the German writer Claus Biegert at the 40th anniversary events of the human rights organization Society for Threathened Peoples, held in the old university town of Göttingen, in the heart of Germany, during the weekend of December 6-7, 2008.
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My Relatives and Friends,
I am extremely sorry I can't be there with you today in person to celebrate the 40th birthday of Society for Threatened Peoples (STP). At the same time I am deeply honored that I am able to convey this message to you this morning/afternoon through Claus Biegert. First, I want to commend all of you for your dedication in furthering the rights of Indigenous People and all other threatened people throughout the world.
I can't say that I know what answer is for our survival, but I truly believe that whatever the answer is, it has to begin with us. We must find every way that we can to make ourselves strong, to make our children strong, to make our faith strong and our connection to the Creator strong. We must teach our children how to effectively resist and fight back. We must be resolute in warning our children not to become like the enemy. We must be teach our children to respect Mother Earth, the Creator, their fellow man and woman, and to respect their brother and sister's vision while maintaining their vigilance and guard over our lands and resources.
As you may know, I have now served more than three decades of my life as a political prisoner of the United States Government for a crime I did not commit. I have served more time than provided for under applicable federal law. Authorities have arbitrarily denied my prior bids for parole. Amnesty International, Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama of Tibet, my Guatemalan sister, Rigoberta Menchu, and many more friends and supporters have recognized me as a political prisoner and called for my immediate release from prison. Millions of people around the world view me as a symbol of injustice against the indigenous peoples of this land. STP has supported me for many years in Germany and German-speaking Europe with great persistence and for that I am very thankful.
I believe that the truth will set me free, but it will also signify a symbolic break from America's undeclared war on indigenous peoples. With my indigenous sisters and brothers, I am waiting for the new era of President-elect Barack Obama who has indicated that as President he will deal with all indigenous peoples within the United States on a “nation-to-nation” basis. This will be a welcome and long overdue change that has been a long time coming.
I would like to say a special thank you to the organizers of this event and a special thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I thank you with all my heart. You can't imagine how much it means to me that I have not been forgotten and that so many people have and continue to struggle to secure my liberation from prison. When I am released from prison it will be because of people like you who remembered me, the reasons I was sent to prison, and who graciously accepted the challenge to seek justice for our people.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker e.V. (GfbV)
Society for Threatened Peoples (STP)
D - 37010 Goettingen
Tel.: +49 (0)551 499 06 -14
Fax: +49 (0)551 58 028