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    Asante Sana from Assata Shakur http://www.assatashakur.org/asante_sana.htm First of all, let me say thank you, to the many people who have helped me to
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 28, 2008
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      Asante Sana from Assata Shakur

      First of all, let me say thank you, to the many people who have helped
      me to celebrate my 60th birthday. Thank you for your beautiful
      birthday cards and for your warm and eloquent messages. Thank you for
      your activism, your radiant energy and most of all for your love. I am
      sincerely grateful for your support and for your commitment to social
      justice, truth and freedom.

      It is somehow surprising for me to realize that I have lived on this
      planet for 60 years. I never imagined that I would live this long.
      Some of those years were very hard years, other years were happier,
      but I have never forgotten who I am or where I came from. For as long
      as I can remember, I was acutely aware of my oppression and of the
      oppression of my people.
      In some ways it was easier for my generation. Racism was blatant and
      obvious. The "Whites Only" signs let us know clearly, what we were up
      against. Not much has changed, but the system of lies and tricknology
      is much more sophisticated. Today young people have to be highly
      informed and acutely analytical, or they will be swept up into a
      whirlpool of lies and deception.

      Freedom, justice and liberty are words that are thrown around a lot in
      the United States, but for most of us, it is empty rhetoric. With each
      and every passing day the country becomes more repressive, the police
      more viciously aggressive and the so-called constitutional guarantees
      obliterated by scare tactics. The so-called 'Conservatives' are only
      interested in conserving their privileges and power and helping their
      rich friends to become richer. Black 'Conservatives' serve their
      "masters" and are basically interested in grinning, shuffling and
      'Uncle Tomming' all the way to the bank. This is the most corrupt
      administration that has ever existed. They have blatantly stolen not
      millions, but billions of dollars. They are actively seeking to
      preserve the old colonial order with a new face, where the oppressed
      people of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are expected
      to suffer happily, and sing praises to imperialism to the tune of the
      star spangled banner.

      It is extreme arrogance to attack and occupy a country and expect its
      people to rejoice and lick your feet. Not even Roman Emperors were
      involved in such misguided conceit. The U.S. government has no right
      whatsoever, to force its undemocratic "democracy" on the rest of the
      world. I am 60 years old and I cannot remember a time when my people
      ever experienced true democracy. It is still the active policy of the
      U.S. government to use a wide variety of tactics to prevent poor
      people and people of color from voting. And when we do get to vote,
      our votes usually do not count. For the most part, there are no decent
      candidates to vote for, because the U.S, government is a
      "dollarocracy" where candidates have to beg and pander to the
      corporate rich in order to be elected.

      I am 60 years old, and I have never in my life seen such widespread
      violence and cruelty. The U.S. government has more people in prison
      than any other country in the world, and it is now actively involved
      in creating prisons all over the world. Abu Gharib is only the tip of
      the iceberg. People all over the world are being imprisoned in secret
      prisons, with no formal charges being made against them. They are
      imprisoned under the most inhumane conditions, and detained for
      indeterminate periods of time, with no rights, no trials, and no
      justice whatsoever. In short, the leaders of this country are war
      criminals. All the U.S. government has to do is call them terrorists
      or extremists, enemy combatants or whatever and they can do anything
      they want to these people. I live in Cuba, and the Cuban people watch
      horrified, as the U.S. Army illegally occupies their land in
      Guantanamo and commits unspeakable acts of torture on their soil, in
      the name of "freedom." The U.S. government not only destroys the lives
      of people around the world, many mothers have cried because many of
      our young people have had their lives destroyed as well. I believe
      that this earth was meant for tenderness and not terror. The
      imperialist countries not only implement terrorist policies in the
      Third World, their actions also provoke terrorist activities and
      internal disputes between people. I believe that when Western
      governments learn to respect the sovereignty of Third world
      governments, and to offer solidarity and support rather that
      imperialist policies and exploitation, most of the world's problems
      will be close to being solved.

      Inside the belly of the beast, conditions are also disastrous. Most of
      the victims of Katrina are still waiting for decent housing and public
      services. Schools and hospitals around the country are either
      deteriorating or closing down. Around the country social programs to
      help poor and working people are mostly a thing of the past. Our young
      people are being marginalized, criminalized and brutalized. It is
      often an act of courage to go to school, or simply drive down the
      street. The U.S. government's occupation of Afghanistan has produced a
      record increase of heroin production, and the "war on drugs" continues
      to be a war on poor people and people of color. The police brutality
      in our communities is not a simple matter of randomly "bad" cops. This
      government is more repressive than ever and more and more of a police
      state. When you have a trigger happy president, a trigger happy
      vice-president, a trigger happy office of homeland security, you are
      bound to have an increase of trigger happy police and many of our
      young people are bound to end up dead or imprisoned. The social
      policies of the United States have deteriorated from so-called benign
      neglect to malignant hostility or indifference.

      The role the press and the media have played in all this has been
      increasingly malignant. There is no such thing as a free press in the
      United States. Journalists receive big salaries for telling "official"
      lies. The media both knowingly and naively became the vehicle for
      misinforming the people of the United States and convincing the people
      that it was "necessary" to go to war. Their "reporting" was based on
      outright lies. Now they "embedded" in the military, continuing to
      misinform the people, and distort the truth.

      I am 60 years old and I am proud to be one of those people who stood
      up against the ruthless, evil, imperialist policies of the U.S.
      government. In my lifetime I have opposed the war against the
      Vietnamese people, the illegal contras – war in Nicaragua, the illegal
      coup in Chile, the invasion of Haiti and of Grenada, and every other
      illegal, immoral and genocidal war the U.S. government has ever waged.
      I have never been a criminal and I never will be one. I am 60 years
      old and in spite of government repression, in spite of the media's
      lies and distortions, in spite of the U.S, government's COINTELPRO
      Program to criminalize and demonize political opponents, I feel proud
      to count myself as someone who believes in peace and believes in
      freedom. I am proud to have been a member of the Black Panther Party
      although the U.S. government continues try to distort history and
      continues to persecute ex-members of the Black Panther Party. Just
      recently, the U.S. government has indicted and arrested 8 ex-Black
      Panthers in a case that was dismissed 30 years ago. The case was
      dismissed some 30 years ago when it became obvious that the most
      vicious forms of extreme torture were used to extract false
      confessions from some of the so-called defendants.

      I am 60 years and it is doubtful that I will ever live to see my
      people free of oppression and repression. But I am totally convinced
      that our collective dream of freedom will some day be realized. I
      sincerely implore young people to develop their minds, to develop
      their skills, to expand their states of consciousness, and sharpen
      their abilities to analyze reality. Those Africans who conspired with
      the European slave trade to sell us into slavery were seduced by
      trinkets. I hope and pray that our young people will not continue to
      fall into the same traps. I have always loved my people and always
      loved our culture. The culture of my people has always been rich and
      always been filled with the seeds of resistance. I hope that young
      people hold fast to that tradition. I sincerely hope that all young
      people will have the courage and the wisdom to hold on tight to their
      humanity and their historical mission. Most people in the Americas,
      were either indigenous people whose ancestors were victims of
      genocide, or brought to this hemisphere as slaves, or came to this
      continent seeking freedom. I believe that it is our collective duty to
      make freedom a reality. I truly believe that it is possible to end
      oppression and repression on this planet. If we all see ourselves as
      citizens of this planet, and citizens of the world, it will be easier
      for us to save this planet and recognize the human rights of human
      beings around the world.

      Much love, Much Solidarity,
      May we all make freedom a reality,
      Assata Shakur
      July 2007
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