May 22, 2011

Organization of American States Inter-American Commission of Human Rights takes note of FBI repression of antiwar, solidarity activists

In the 2010 Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), a body of the Organization of American States, the IACHR took note of the FBI and grand jury repression of antiwar and international solidarity activists (full report is attached below). The IACHR discusses the FBI raids in a section called “Evaluation of the state of freedom of expression in the hemisphere.” In that section, the IACHR notes:

The right to freedom of expression is a universal right of all individuals, without which the most important of liberties — the right to think for oneself and shares one’s views with others — is denied. The full exercise of the right to express one’s own ideas and opinions, to share information that is available, and to deliberate openly and without restrictions regarding the issues that concern us all is an indispensable condition for the consolidation, functioning and preservation of democratic regimes.”

This chapter describes some of the most important aspects of freedom of expression in the hemisphere during 2010. […] As in previous annual reports, this chapter exposes the aspects of the right to freedom of expression that merit greater attention and that have been reported to the Office of the Special Rapporteur during the year. […] The cases selected in each topic seek to serve as paradigmatic examples that reflect the situation in each country in relation to the respect and exercise of freedom of expression.”

The mention of the FBI raids occurs in a section of the report in which the IACHR notes “several judicial decisions with important implications for freedom of expression handed down by United States federal courts in 2010,” including the notorious Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project decision. Following a discussion of these judicial decisions, the IACHR report notes:

On September 24, 2010 the FBI conducted searches at eight addresses in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois linked to individuals and organizations critical of United States policy in the Middle East and Colombia. According to the information received, the persons affected by the raids, some of whom were reportedly subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury, include: Meredith Aby, Mick Kelly, Sarah Martin, Tracy Molm, Anh Pham and Jess Sundin in Minneapolis, as well as Joe Iosbaker and Stephanie Weiner in Chicago. These persons are reportedly linked to organizations such as Freedom Road Socialist Organization and the Minnesota Anti-War Committee. According to the public statements of FBI officials and the warrant to search the residence of Mr. Kelly in Minneapolis, the searches were conducted in relation to an investigation into possible violations of the prohibition on “providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations” established in 18 U.S.C.§2339B. As mentioned previously, this criminal provision was challenged by civil society organizations on First Amendment grounds and upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2010 in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project.”

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression welcomes the fact that the government repression against antiwar and solidarity activists within the United States is gaining the attention of international observers concerned about human rights. The CSFR urges other international human rights observers to assist with the defense of the activists being unjustly targeted by the FBI for their freedom of expression.