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The convening was one of this century's most significant events on the issue since the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa and the 1990 Special International Tribunal on Human Rights Violations of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War, also held in New York City. The current proceeding was held at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, the former site of the Audubon Ballroom, where Black human rights leader Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, after calling for the U.S. to be brought before the World Court.
The evidence will prove that the treatment of Black, Brown and Indigenous people, historically as well as currently, "amount to genocide," declared Nkechi Taifa, author, activist and internationally acclaimed human rights attorney who prosecuted the case as the tribunal's Chief People's Counsel.
In the tribunal's opening statement, she outlined how its convening "comes on the heels" of not only the 1990 event, but also the January-February 2021 International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence Against People of African Descent in the United States, the 1992 International Tribunal of Indigenous Peoples and Oppressed Nations in the USA and the 1979 international jurists' report of their visit with U.N. human rights petitioners from America.
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"This tribunal stands on the shoulders of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), whose models were land, self-determination, self-defense and internationalization …His DNA still manifests (here) as we gather to continue to honor his sacrifice and carry on the tradition of his work," Taifa declared to cheers and applause.
Taifa led a powerful team of seasoned attorneys and students of law who directed the testimonies from more than 20 impacted victims, expert witnesses, and professionals with firsthand knowledge and/or data raised in the five counts of the tribunal's indictment.
The event, which consisted of two full days of testimonies and concluded with the international jurists' verdict read aloud in front of the United Nations, was held amid increased attention on the study of reparations for Blacks in municipalities across America, and that issue was one highlighted as part of the Chief People's Lawyer's riveting closing statement.
On the tribunal's final day, an announcement was made following the verdict, that Russell "Maroon" Shoatz, 78, a former member of the Black Liberation Army and Black Panther Party and a political prisoner in Pennsylvania since 1972, would be freed on compassionate release because of his stage 4 cancer. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiHn8qDCzzg)
The nine-member, internationally-chosen panel of jurists included Magdalene Moonsamy (South Africa), former member of the South African parliament; Wilma E. Reveron Collazo (Puerto Rico), long-standing member and leader, Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican Bar Association); Binalakshmi Nepram (India/Manipur), Founder-Director of Global Alliance; Mireille Fanon Mendes-France (France), former Chair of the UN Working Group on People of African Descent; Sherly Fabre (Haiti/USA), International Fellowship of Reconciliation United Nations Representative; Dr. Vickie Casanova-Willis (USA) former Executive Director US Human Rights Network; Kassahun Checole (Eritrea/USA) renowned Pan Africanist and Pan American scholar; Dr. Alexander Hinto (USA), Director of Center for Study of Genocide and Human Rights, Rutgers University); and Chairman Brian Moskwetah Weeden, chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
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The jurists unanimously found the United States guilty of the following five counts, which attorney Taifa explained fit well within the internationally-accepted definition of genocide:
- Police violence and killings
- Mass incarceration;
- Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War;
- Environmental racism;
- Public health inequities
The Spirt of Mandela coordinating committee, which organized the tribunal, stated it will use the outcome as an opportunity to organize on a mass level across many social justice arenas.
For more information, contact the Spirit of Mandela at https://spiritofmandela.org.
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