IJAN joins with the National Lawyers Guild, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and National Conference of Black Lawyers in rejecting the U.S. government’s attempt to smear Assata Shakur as a”terrorist.” The outrageous FBI designation of Shakur as a “most wanted terrorist” further lays bare the blatant politicization of the term. As Noam Chomsky argues, “terrorism” as it is used in this instance means violence of which the U.S. government does not approve and that reflects dissent from its domestic and foreign policies.
As Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out years ago, the United States is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” including within communities of color in the United States.
Shakur and many other political prisoners from the 60s and 70s who resisted this violence were victims of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, which waged war on a wide swath of social movements – particularly the Black liberation struggle. COINTELPRO’s aims were to neutralize and destroy movements and organizers and used all means available, including assassination.
By labeling Assata Shakur a terrorist, the U.S. government is looking to justify its repression of political activists and movements and its absurd notion that Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism. In reality the U.S. has done everything to undermine the socialist Cuban government including backing and providing refuge for people like Luis Posada Carriles who orchestrated the bombing of a commercial Cuban airliner, killing 78 people, as well as of several Cuban hotels.
Similar labeling has been used to describe those who have fought for the liberation of oppressed people from Palestine to Colombia,Lebanon to Oakland; from Black liberation to environmental justice activists in the United States. Through branding those who challenge the violence of the United States as terrorists, the U.S. government seeks to intimidate those who demand a more just society in the United States and who work against the violence of U.S. foreign policy.
We reject the nakedly politicized use of”terrorism” to corrode our human rights and attack our movements for justice. We refuse to be intimidated and will continue to fight for justice. We stand with those who fight for our collective freedom and pay for it with their own.