Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. Zugzwang
    08 Jun '07
    11 Jul '17 21:453 edits
    Who remembers the controversial case of Leonard Peltier?

    Leonard Peltier (born in 1944), a Lakota, is a member of the American Indian Movement.
    In 1977 he was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in a conflict at an Indian reservation.
    As of today, he's still in prison, serving two consecutive life sentences.

    Many people (including some white American writers) believe that Leonard Peltier
    was unfairly convicted and has been inhumanely treated at times in prison.
    Amnesty International regards his trial as unfair. (Some witnesses against him
    later recanted their testimony.) In addition to overwhelming support from
    diverse native American communities, Leonard Peltier has received support
    from anti-racist activists such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
    The European Parliament has called for the US government to grant clemency.

    This post intends to focus, however, only upon one issue (which might have
    some, though far from exact, comparison with the Charlie Gard case).

    In 1986, Leonard Peltier began developing a retinal problem that threatened
    to make him blind in one eye. Apparently according to his American prison doctors,
    nothing more could be done to help me. According to his lawyer, William Kunstler
    (a famous defender of leftist prisoners), the prison authorities refused
    for eight months to allow any outside ophthalmologist to examine him.

    The primary, if not the only, reason why American prison authorities changed
    their minds was political pressure applied by the USSR. In the USSR,
    Leonard Peltier was celebrated as a political prisoner who had been
    framed by the racist USA. Soviet children were encouraged to write
    letters to the US government, urging his release. (As a proud Native
    American, Leonard Peltier said that he had no wish to settle in the USSR.)
    The USSR began denouncing the USA for depriving Leonard Peltier of medical treatment.

    Although prison doctors apparently believed that Leonard Peltier's eye condition
    was incurable, if not untreatable, Soviet doctors offered a treatment normally
    available only in the USSR. Under much pressure, the American prison allowed
    two Soviet doctors to examine Leonard Peltier and give him Soviet drugs.
    But either it already was too late or the drugs were ineffective, so, according
    to his lawyer, Leonard Peltier suffered 'irreversible blindness' in his eye.

    "The Soviet ophthalmologists, Eduard Avetisov and Lev Katselson, said the drugs would
    not improve the blurred vision in Mr. Peltier's left eye but could prevent it from getting worse.

    ''I've been fighting eight months to get some treatment,'' said Mr. Peltier,
    who is 42 years old. ''It took the Soviet Union to put some pressure on it.''"

    "After he had suffered a retinal hemorrhage, no outside ophthalmologist
    was allowed in the prison for more than eight months after the onset of
    this condition, including an available and willing expert in nearby Kansas
    City, Mo., thus causing ir-reversible blindness in one of his eyes."
    --William Kunstler (a lawyer for Leonard Peltier)