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OPEN LETTER TO THE PUBLIC:

Pacifica Radio's Board Speaks Out on Haiti, Iraq, and Justice

SOURCE: Pacifica Radio's National Board
The press cannot function if it is used by the government to prosecute political speech.
BERKELEY, CA--For more than half a century, Pacifica radio has opposed violence and war and has defended basic rights. The Pacifica National Board takes this responsibility very seriously. At its recent meeting in Houston, the Board adopted motions on several crucial issues and urged Pacifica stations to give them consistent and in-depth coverage.

On Haiti

February 7th, 2007 marks the 21st anniversary of the fall of the Duvalier regime. On that date, mobilizations will take place in more than 30 cities around the world, demanding an end to the UN occupation of Haiti, freedom for hundreds of political prisoners arrested during the 2004 coup, and the return of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The climate of violence in Haiti has also had a terrible personal impact on Pacifica National Board member Ray LaForest. On January 22nd, his brother Henri was fatally shot in Petion-Ville. Both Henri and Ray were active in the struggle against the Duvalier dictatorship, and Henri participated in the mobilizations of the 1990s during the first coup against President Aristide.

The Pacifica Board reaffirms its commitment to justice, democracy, and sovereignty in Haiti, and supports the February 7th International Day of Solidarity with the people of Haiti.

On Iraq

Since the beginning of the Iraq War, Pacifica radio has aired the voices of leading anti-war critics. Recently, the Bush regime decided to send 21,000 more U.S. troops to the war and occupation in Iraq. The U.S. Senate is considering a resolution opposing this decision. The Pacifica Board voted unanimously to stand in opposition to further troop increases.

At its January meeting, the Pacifica Board called for a diplomatic solution to resolve the armed conflict in Iraq, including the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

An ever-increasing majority of Americans and people around the world oppose the war in Iraq. So does Lieutenant Ehren Watada, a Hawai’ian of Chinese and Japanese descent, who is the first commissioned military officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq. Watada says that the war is illegal and immoral, and that it is his duty under U.S. and international law to refuse illegal orders.

As a result, Watada is facing years in jail, based in part on public statements he has made against the war. This is the first time since 1965 that the military is openly prosecuting an objector for his opinions. The Pacifica Board supports Lieutenant Watada’s position of conscience, as well as his request to resign from the military and receive an honorable discharge.

The Pacifica Board also opposes military court attempts to subpoena journalists to testify against Watada. A journalist’s job is to report the news, not to participate in government prosecutions. The press cannot function if it is used by the government to prosecute political speech. The press must retain the ability to cover all aspects of a debate, not just the perspectives popular with the current administration.

On Law and Justice

The Pacifica Board is also concerned about violence at home—including police brutality and the death penalty.

In Georgia, an innocent Black man could soon be executed. The Pacifica Board has resolved to report on Troy Anthony Davis. In 1991, a jury convicted Davis for the 1989 killing of a white police officer. Fifteen people testified against him at trial. Afterwards, 13 of these witnesses recanted their testimony. Some admitted that they perjured themselves because of police pressure, and some actually identified another man as the killer. But the courts still want Davis executed.

Pacifica is calling on its listeners to stop wrongful executions and call Troy Davis' sister, Martina Correia, at (912) 484-0344 to support his last appeal.

The Pacifica National Board also supports the demand by many organizations and community activists nationwide for an end to police brutality.

There are many examples, including two recent extreme cases. In late 2006, Sean Bell, an innocent and unarmed African American male, was killed in a barrage of 50 bullets fired by five New York City police officers. Two of his friends, also African American and unarmed, almost died. In the same week, Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old African American grandmother, was killed by police in Atlanta in a botched drug raid.

The Pacifica Board condemns these and other police killings, and the harassment of all those who have been victimized by police brutality. Joining Congress members Cynthia McKinney and John Conyers, the Board demands that Congress hold hearings on the state of U.S. law enforcement agencies’ use of force and deadly force against Black, Latinos and other communities of color.

The complete texts of these motions can be found on Pacifica’s national website: www.Pacifica.org. This commentary will be aired on all Pacifica stations. We urge you to learn more and do whatever you can to make a difference.


To hear the audio cart, go HERE:

The motions can also be found at HERE

Pacifica Radio, founded in 1949 by pacifist Lewis Hill, was the first listener-sponsored radio network in the country. It operates stations KPFA-FM in Berkeley, KPFK-FM in Los Angeles, KPFT-FM in Houston, WBAI-FM in New York, and WPFW-FM in Washington, DC, and has more than 100 affiliate stations.



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This story was published on February 5, 2007.