An appeal to Barack Obama: Please free Leonard Peltier, the seriously ill Native American civil rights activist!

US President visits Lakota reservation

On occasion of the visit of US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to the Lakota reservation "Standing Rock" in North Dakota, the Society for Threatened Peoples would like to draw attention to the tragic fate of the Native American civil rights activist Leonard Peltier. "We appeal to President Obama to finally pardon the seriously ill Anishinabe-Lakota Indian, who has been imprisoned since 1976. Peltier was blamed for the deaths of two FBI officials who – in 1975 – were killed in another Lakota reservation. He is innocent!" said Yvonne Bangert, the STP's expert for questions concerning indigenous peoples, in Göttingen on Friday.

Over the years, many prominent voices campaigned on behalf of Leonard Peltier, including the late Simon Wiesenthal, director of the Documentation Centre of the Association of Jewish Victims of the Nazi regime, the Nobel Peace Prize winners Rigoberta Menchu and Nelson Mandela, numerous members of the US Congress, the Canadian, Belgian, Dutch and the European Parliament as well as members of the German Bundestag. Apart from the STP, Amnesty International campaigns for the civil rights activist too.

"Despite the proven fact that there were irregularities and attempts to obstruct the defense, the proceedings could not be revised or re-opened – so the legal process is exhausted. This is why Peltier's only chance is to be pardoned by President Obama, who has so far shown more commitment towards the rights of the indigenous population of his country than any of his predecessors. Peltier, who will turn 70 this year, is almost blind on one eye because of a stroke in 1986. He is suffering from diabetes and a heart disease. It would be an act of humanity to finally let him return to his native reserve and spend his old age together with his family. Please consider the appeals of the many thousands of people all around the world who have repeatedly expressed their support for this brave man."


Yvonne Bangert - Indigenous Peoples Department - is available for further questions: Tel. 0551 49906 14 or indigene@gfbv.de.