For Immediate Release
Calls for Russell Maroon Shoatz’ release from Solitary Confinement Gain International Momentum
On the eve of the possible release from solitary confinement of long-held Black Panther political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz, calls supporting this action have been coming from around the globe. Nobel peace laureate and former President of East Timor Jose Ramos Horta just added his name to the Campaign, noting the “absolutely crucial leadership role” played by political prisoners in his own nation’s successful struggle for independence.
Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz co-coordinator Matt Meyer, in a video release from Palesintine coordinated with Addameer (the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association representing that country’s diverse grouping of 5000 political prisoners), noted that the case of Maroon is being seen across the globe as one of the most heinous acts of judicial neglect in contemporary human rights history. “Though we are heartened and encouraged by the recent news from SCI Mahanoy where Maroon is being held,” noted Meyer – referencing information that a favorable recommendation for release from solitary was on the desk of PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel, “we also understand that there can be no celebration until the moment Maroon enters general population. Basic international legal standards and US constitutional requirements suggest that he should never have spent a week in solitary, much less the unimaginable 22 years of consecutive torture he has been forced to withstand. Even one more week in solitary is too long.”
In a visit to Ramallah, Meyer met with Addameer director Sahar Francis, who affirmed the significance of Maroon’s case. In a joint video statement, Francis and Meyer affirmed the importance for all human rights advocates to focus on the release of all political prisoners everywhere. Noting the world’s prayers for Nelson Mandela, one of history’s most famous political prisoners, they suggested that now was a significant moment to link movements and work together. In the Afterword to the recently-released PM Press collection of Maroon’s essays, South African former Member of Parliament Nozizwe Madlala Routledge quoted Mandela’s call that “a nation should not be judged based upon how it treats its highest citizens, but on how it treats its prisoners.” As knowledge of Maroon’s case and support for an end to the torture spreads across Africa, the Middle East, Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Europe, a dramatic spotlight is focusing on how Pennsylvania treats those behind bars.