On February 23, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) shared a message of support from US political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. NUMSA is part of a global campaign calling for the release of Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther in the Black liberation struggle in the US. Abu-Jamal is considered a political prisoner as supporters argue that his conviction of killing a Philadelphia police officer is wrongful, and is cover for state repression of Abu-Jamal’s political work.
“I thank you, members of the militant union, NUMSA,” Abu-Jamal began his statement recorded from State Correctional Institution—Mahanoy. He continues, “We are mindful that NUMSA itself has been the subject of brutal state repression for organizing for better pay and working conditions in South Africa. Activists here, in Pennsylvania, the United States have been organizing what they call DBI, short for death by incarceration. Meaning life sentences, for such sentences have no end but death. Many organizers here are abolitionists, who want prisons shuttered, and death rows abolished. So I thank you for your work and your support.”
NUMSA responded to Abu-Jamal’s message, writing, “We are so encouraged by [Abu-Jamal’s] strength and resilience and we hope that, despite his situation, he remains strong.”
NUMSA General Secretary Irvin Jim had previously written an open letter to US Judge Lucretia Clemmons, urging her to release Abu-Jamal. “Mumia Abu-Jamal’s situation has long struck a chord in light of the history of our own freedom struggles in South Africa… We understand the continued dehumanization of Mumia Abu-Jamal and other political prisoners within the context of the long struggle for Black liberation in America, a struggle that goes back to the days of slavery,” wrote Jim.