Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
Leonard Peltier - Lakota
MONTEVIDEO, URUGAUAY - The long imprisoned Leonard Peltier, Lakota, has been awarded the first Mario Benedetti Foundation international human rights prize. The award was announced Monday.
Peltier is serving a life sentence in the US Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He was convicted of the 1975 murders of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He was convicted in 1977.
"Leonard Peltier, who on September 12, 2011 will turn 67, has spent more than half his life in prison. He is a symbol of resistance to repressive state policies by the United States, where there are people in jail for ethnic, racial, ideological and religious reasons," a foundation statement said.
Ricardo Elena, a member of the foundation's honorary board, said Peltier's case "is one that is repeated over and over: violation (of rights); persecution, eviction, invasion and expropriation of the indigenous people from the time it was 'discovered' until now.
Peltier is considered to be a political prisoner of war by many American Indians throughout the United States and others worldwide. Through the years, Peltier's supporters have included: the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu, among other prominent names.
Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti, who died in 2009, is considered to have been one of the most important Latin American writers of the 20th century. After his death, the Mario Benedetti Foundation was set up to support human rights and cultural causes in line with his work.
The Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee has been credited for their hard work on helping to secure the prize for Peltier.
revised 3:23 pm edt; posted September 7, 2011 8:40 am edt
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