By Nadrat Siddique
In addition to being Eid ul-Adha, September 12 is Leonard Peltier’s 72nd birthday. Even though he’s not a Muslim, he made an Abraham-esque sacrifice for the oppressed Lakota (Sioux) people in 1975. His sacrifice stems from his participation in the American Indian Movement (AIM) camp on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Peltier is Anishinabe (Ojibway), and not of the Lakota tribe or Pine Ridge. Hence his actions could be considered rather self-less and internationalist (or at least intertribal). AIM was an national organization fighting for the rights of indigenous people throughout North America. In this context, it came up against both corporate greed and the corrupt local tribal councils which did the dirty work of the corporations. Like many movements which fight for self-determination, human rights, and against the seizure of their peoples’ resources by U.S. and European multinational corporations, AIM was quickly labeled a “terrorist” organization by the authorities.
The camp on Pine Ridge was established to protect the local population from the reign of terror being enacted on them by the puppet tribal council of Dick Wilson. (Indian reservations typically have neither city council nor mayor; instead tribal chair and tribal council are the nearest equivalent). As a Pakistani, I would compare Dick Wilson’s reign of terror to that conducted by the Pakistan Army in Waziristan. As in Waziristan, many Pine Ridge residents were driven out of the area, while others lived in daily fear of the regime over an extended period of time. Many of Dick Wilson’s opponents wound up dead, and it was believed they were murdered by Wilson’s goon squad. Day-to-day life was totally disrupted in Pine Ridge (as was life in Waziristan by the Pakistan army incursions), hence AIM was called in to protect the local people.
It was only as a result of his presence on Pine Ridge that Peltier could be charged with the murder of two FBI agents--a crime which all the evidence, including undisputable ballistic evidence, shows he did not commit. And so Peltier, nearing 40 years of incarceration, continues to languish in an American prison.
This Eid Day, please pray for Peltier, and for all other victims of the American system of Injustice.
© 2016 By Nadrat Siddique