Support Jalil Muntaqim’s Medical Parole and Commutation of his Sentence

To: New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) Commissioner Anthony Annucci

Campaign created by Northeast Political Prisoner Coalition

Originally published on OrganizeFor

Support Jalil Muntaqim's (Anthony Bottom #77A4283) Medical Parole and Commutation of his Sentence

We strongly support Medical Parole and the Commutation to time served for Jalil Muntaquim. We are confident that his release poses no danger to our communities, and we urge you to allow him to rejoin his family and friends.

Why is this important?

Widely respected elder Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) joined the Black Panther Party at age 16 and was arrested at age 19. Jalil is in his 49th year of incarceration, currently held at Sullivan Correctional Facility on a 25-years to life, minimum sentence. Jalil became ill and contracted COVID-19 in May 2020. Jalil falls into two of the highest risk categories due to his age and his medical conditions, which include chronic bronchitis, heart disease, and hypertension. He also has previously suffered a stroke with some resulting brain damage, and has scarring in his lungs as a result of a case of tuberculosis in his youth. As a result of his pre-existing health conditions, Jalil has been fighting for his life.

In an effort to avoid contracting the virus, Muntaqim initially appealed to the court for relief. On April 27th, the New York State Supreme Court granted him temporary release from prison. The order did not release him completely, as he would still be serving his sentence under DOCCS supervision. However, Attorney General Letitia James appealed the Judge’s decision, forcing Jalil to remain incarcerated. A few weeks later Jalil contracted COVID-19, as he had feared.

Jalil has an exemplary record and a reputation as a peacemaker and teacher. Our biggest fear is that if he is not released, his prison sentence will become a death sentence. At a time when people are taking to the streets to protest state violence against Black people, the Black lives of those who fought to protect Black communities from police brutality and murder should not be disregarded.

Visit the campaign site to sign the petition.

Who We Are

The formation of this coalition was compelled by the need to draw connections between national and international struggles, and between political prisoners and social prisoners, who are mostly working-class victims of poverty, racism, marginalization and neglect. The mass uprisings against anti-Black police violence, along with the COVID-19 pandemic and the threat of imminent death faced by prisoners hastened this effort. Made up of organizations and individuals spanning five continents, our position regarding prison abolition is informed by the need for an alternative to capitalism because capitalism is carceral and authoritarian.

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Standing With Black Lives Matter Protests: Opposing Police Brutality, Militarism, and All Forms of State Violence

Frieda Afary, Sara Abbas and Yasser Munif

The video of a white police officer pressing his knee on the throat of George Floyd, a Black man for eight minutes and killing him, demonstrates the reality of white supremacy and the legacy of slavery in the U.S.   George Floyd was lynched by police officers while some bystanders stood by and watched.  Others on the scene protested and a young woman filmed the murder. 

The truth is that the leading cause of death for young Black men in the U.S. is police killing. Not one week goes by without several unarmed Black individuals being killed by the police. This state-sanctioned violence against Black bodies is the vilest aspect of racial capitalism.   In fact, racist violence and brutality against people of African descent is not just an issue in the U.S.  but exists everywhere.  It is urgent for global activists to combat that in their own countries and communities.    

Scenes of multiracial protests and street battles against police brutality and state violence in Minneapolis and more than 140 U.S. cities reveal that there is something new emerging in the U.S.:  A powerful movement against the police’s systematic killing of Black men and women. It is also a movement inspiring solidarity protests of thousands in other countries, who are declaring loudly and clearly: Black Lives Matter!    

As the openly white supremacist Trump administration is using his racist base and machine gun-wielding thugs to push workers to go back to work despite unsafe working conditions in the middle of a pandemic, and now threatening to launch a full-scale assault of the U.S. military on the protesters, there are groups of people of all races coming together to protest white supremacy, police brutality and systemic violence.   It is Black people however who remain at the helm of these protests as they fight, quite literally, for their lives.

While some protesters are calling for a complete defunding of the police and the use of those resources instead to help communities that have long been exploited, neglected and targeted with state violence, most are demanding much more.  At a rally in Minneapolis on 30 May 2020, activist Tamika Mallory made a powerful speech: “This is not just a few cops doing things across the country. This is not a good cop versus bad cop situation. This is Ahmaud Arbery being shot down by white men on the streets of Georgia. Breonna Taylor being killed in her home. This is in New York City… we were just in New York, fighting the police officers, who in the name of social distancing were damn near killing Black young people on our streets. This is a coordinated activity happening across this nation, and so we are in a state of emergency. Black people are dying in a state of emergency.”  The state of emergency extends to the Covid-19 pandemic, which reveals once more that Black lives are expendable to the white supremacist power structure on which the U.S. rests. Figures compiled by the non-partisan APM Research Lab and released just a few days before Mallory’s speech provide evidence of the monumental divide in the Covid-19 death rate between Black Americans and the rest of the country. African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans.

For this reason and many others, Black protesters say that getting rid of Trump and his administration is simply not enough. There has to be a complete and fundamental change in race relations, social and economic relations in the U.S.

In the meantime, Trump is using the intensifying capitalist competition and war threats with China to turn attention away from the deep crises at home and globally.  Both the U.S. and China are instrumentalizing the pandemic to increase state security and authoritarian rule. In China, the state silenced frontline healthcare workers who warned about the rise of the coronavirus epidemic in December 2019. China is also where Africans have faced intense racism during the pandemic.    In the U.S., the Trump administration denied the seriousness of the pandemic and then refused to coordinate the effort to stop the disease’s spread and to provide testing, safety, protective equipment for workers on the frontlines and basic needs and healthcare for the population. This has resulted in a catastrophe with more than 100,000 people having died from Covid-19 in the U.S.  up to now. The U.S. accounts for only 4% of the global population and 30% of the Covid-19 deaths, putting it ahead of any country. To conceal their incompetence in addressing the pandemic, both the U.S. and China are accusing each other of negligence and corruption and each is using disinformation to promote lies, claiming that the coronavirus was made in a lab to wreck havoc on the other.

Although street protests without a genuine alternative to this inhuman capitalist racist sexist system are not enough on their own to overcome this ominous reality, it is very inspiring to see that youth and dispossessed communities around the world, through their creative and tech-savvy struggles, are building networks of solidarity across national borders. The U.S. protests against the murder of Floyd, Arbery and Taylor and more generally against state violence, represent a new hope for people around the world.   

Juliana Goes, a Brazilian activist, draws comparisons between the systematic murder of Blacks by US police and the killing of Afro-Brazilians by Brazilian police.  She writes: “In recent days, resistance by Black people has taken different forms. In Brazil, more than 800 organizations, brought together by the Black Coalition for Rights, protested the death of João Pedro, a fourteen-year old Black teen who was killed in his home’s living room when the police came in, shot him and disappeared with him.“ (See article by Juliana Goes elsewhere on this website)

There are long lasting relationships between the U.S. and Brazilian Afro-descendant communities which the recent protests in both countries will hopefully further consolidate. 

Many Iranian activists inside Iran are also following the protests in the U.S. closely.   The writers of Sarkhat, a progressive underground Telegram station, draw connections between the murder of George Floyd and the Iranian police murder of poor and dispossessed women or Afghan refugees or the Iranian state’s brutal repression of a popular uprising in November 2019.   Many youth  oppose the Iranian government’s repression, and also oppose Trump, U.S. imperialism, capitalism and white supremacy.

It is in the spirit of bringing these and other global struggles together and developing their revolutionary potential that the Global Prison Abolitionist Coalition was formed.    

This coalition brings together the expertise and knowledge of socialist and abolitionist groups and individuals who struggle against racism, police brutality, state violence and the carceral system in different regions and joins that effort with a dialogue on alternatives to capitalism, racism, sexism, heterosexism and all forms of dehumanization.

We invite individuals and organizations who are interested in participating in this effort to read our statement of purpose and contact us.    

What Is Holding Back the Formation of a Global Prison Abolitionist Movement to Fight COVID-19 and Capitalism?

Frieda Afary and Lara Al-Kateb
Originally published in Spectre

The COVID-19 pandemic has given new urgency to the need to abolish prisons, refugee camps and the inhuman capitalist carceral system.  Prisoner and refugee populations are facing an imminent death sentence from the fast spread of the virus in the crowded and unsanitary conditions of prisons and camps.

During the past week, there have been protests inside some detention centers and prisons in the US, Iran, Italy and elsewhere.  Prison abolitionist and refugee and immigrant support groups in the US are calling for “a thorough plan to release people from jails, prisons, and detention centers.” Although, the US and several other counties have started to release limited portions of their prison populations, it is way too small to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Effectively fighting the COVID-19 pandemic demands a global prison abolitionist movement based on opposition to all forms of exploitation and domination. In the first part of this article, we offer some an overview of the world’s prison and refugee camp populations. In the last part, we will discuss some key obstacles to the formation of a global prison abolitionist movement. We hope to spark discussion with prison abolitionists around the world, so that we can make a difference at this critical moment.


On a global scale, the U.S, China and Russia have the highest numbers of prisoners and hold half of the world’s prison population of nine million. Brazil, India, Mexico, and South Africa also have large prison populations.

The US prison population is estimated at around 2.3 million people, with approximately 540,000 detailed because they cannot pay cash bail. The “War on Drugs” targeted African-Americans, resulting in a Black incarceration rate five times that of whites. Today U.S prisons are incubators of disease, where overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and the lack of medical care and medical staff  leave many prisoners vulnerable to the coronavirus.

In China, over 1.5 million people are currently detained and more than half are political prisoners, the majority of who are ethnic minority Uighurs held in re-education camps in Xinjiang province. By late February, over 500 cases of COVID-19 were reported across five Chinese penitentiaries, and many more are unreported or covered up.

Russia has an estimated prisoner population of 874000. Police forces arbitrarily arrest protesters, including university students and children. At least half a million prisoners in Russia do not have access to hygiene and sanitation protections against the coronavirus.

In the Middle East and North Africa region, Syria has the highest number of political prisoners with roughly 100,000 people. A letter signed by 43 human rights groups calls for the immediate release of all prisoners from detention centers and jails and prisons inside Syria.

Turkey has between 200,000 and 300,000 prisoners. According to Human Rights Watch, it is the world’s leader jailer of journalists. Many activists have also been prosecuted for their social media posts.  There are currently 49,000 political prisoners in Turkey.  Recently,  Turkish officials have agreed to release ⅓ of the incarcerated population in face of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, journalists, Kurdish militants and political activists will be excluded from the measure. Since social distancing is not possible in prison cells, this puts thousands of people at risk of infection.

In Iran, the prison population is approximately 240,000, with no accurate count of political prisoners. The Iranian government’s effort to cover up the spread of the virus until late February   has led to Iran’s population suffering the highest coronavirus death toll in the MENA region so far. There are currently reports of riots in prisons in Tabriz, Azarbaijan, Saqez, Kurdistan, Ahvaz, Khuzestan, Hamedan, as well as a hunger strike of 200 women prisoners in Urmia, all demanding furlough to be saved from COVID-19. The Iranian government claims that it has temporarily release 85,000 prisoners in face of the pandemic. Very few among them are political prisoners.

In Israel, there are over 19,000 imprisoned people, of who over 4500 are Palestinians.  Palestinian prisoners have been cut off from any contact with family or lawyers since the imposition of emergency regulations to combat COVID-19.  In protest over medical negligence, Palestinian prisoners are refusing the meals provided to them by the prison authorities.

In Egypt which has a prison population of over 100,000, some political prisoners have been released.  However tens of thousands remain detained for peacefully protesting, and the number of political prisoners including women political prisoners is rapidly increasing.

The number of people in refugee camps, another form of prison, is the highest since World War II.   Of the 70 million forcibly displaced  people around the world, 29 million are refugees and over half are children.  Two-thirds of refugees come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. The situation of Syrian refugees in Idlib, and in other camps camps in the region  is atrocious. A refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece intended to house 3000 people is now holding 23,000 refugees.  Several aid groups warn of catastrophic consequences for refugees without access to testing, medical facilities and running water.

In South Sudan, there are more than 1.6 million internally displaced people. According to the  International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nairobi, it takes days for adequate healthcare to reach people for treatable diseases like malaria or diarrhea which sometimes end in fatalities. So far, no confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported in South Sudan. However, contagion in such densely-populated areas could devastate an already fragile healthcare system. Scarcity and lack of beds in two major refugee camps in Southeast Africa which hold around 418,000 refugees and  asylum seekers puts thousands of lives at jeopardy.

In the US, there are 37,000 undocumented immigrants in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers. At least 7000 children of migrants are being held either in various group homes away from their parents or in detention centers with their parents. Tens of thousands of rejected asylum seekers are in camps at the US-Mexico border.

In light of these realities, it is clear that the world’s detained and displaced will be disproportionately affected by the pandemic, requiring a global response from prison abolitionists.


Until now, the US prison abolitionist movement against mass incarceration and police violence has focused on US prisons, only recently broadening their scope to address the detention of undocumented migrants by ICE. Few connections have been made with activists defending political prisoners in China, Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa; or with those organizing in solidarity with the over 70 million refugees and displaced people in camps around the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic compels us to create a global prison abolitionist movement that addresses the connections between prisons, refugee camps, racism, sexism, imperialism and the inhumanity of the capitalist system.

Opposing the carceral system demands taking a stand against all forms of authoritarianism and oppression internationally. Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Golden Gulag (2007) and a leader of the US prison abolitionist organization Critical Resistance, has analyzed both the relationship not only between economic crises and the rise in incarceration in the US; and the role of prisons as an instrument of social control to legitimate the power of the capitalist state globally. In a speech to a recent gathering of Critical Resistance in Los Angeles, she emphasized that “reforms will not end prisons. Abolitionism has to be Green, Red, and Internationalist.”


Erich Fromm, a socialist humanist theorist from the Frankfurt School, has written about the ways in which the carceral and police system displace mass anger from social and economic conditions and toward prisoners.

While this may explain why broad layers of the popular classes acquiesce to the growth of incarceration, what are the factors impeding coordinated efforts among prison abolitionists and socialist solidarity activists on an international scale?  We want to point to four issues:

  1. There are real distinctions between political prisoners, and “common prisoners” who have been jailed for petty crimes rooted in poverty. However, these differences do not justify a political strategy that focuses exclusively on only on political prisoners. We cannot accept a “class distinction” among prisoners, but most oppose the carceral system itself.
  2. US prison abolitionists recognize the profoundly racialized character of the US prison population where two thirds of the current prison population of 2.3 million and many of the millions on parole are poor and working class Blacks and Latinos. Middle Eastern and North African activists have also highlighted the repression and incarceration of the Kurdish national minorities in Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. Unfortunately, the same solidarity is often not extended to the over one million Uighur Muslims in Xinxiang province who are imprisoned in the Chinese government’s forced labor/“re-education” camps.  We also need to extend our solidarity to the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the Black population of Darfur, Sudan or of Brazil.
  3. Although the population of women prisoners around the world (officially 714,000) is smaller than the male prison population, women’s imprisonment is  growing at a much faster rate than men’s imprisonment. While some are political prisoners, the majority are in prison because poverty led to their being trafficked, forced to become sex workers, to use or sell drugs,  or because they defended themselves against or were held responsible for the debts of abusive partners. Transgender prisoners are also facing severe abuse around the world.
  4. Finally, there is a tendency among some on the global left to ignore or defend authoritarian rulers who claim to be against US imperialism. This selective anti-imperialism refuses to defend political prisoners in countries such as Syria, Iran, Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua even if they oppose all imperialist powers and religious fundamentalism. Of the over 100,000 political prisoners in the brutal Assad regime’s dungeons, the majority are not jihadists – they are youth, Kurdish, labor, and feminist activists who dared to participate in the uprising against the Assad regime in 2011 and after. The millions of Syrian refugees who are being bombed by the Assad regime and their Russia and Iranian allies suffer in refugee camps in the region.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its genocidal ramifications compels us to address these barriers to solidarity and overcome them in order to create a global movement for abolishing prisons and refugee camps.  Part of our program must point to the need to an alternative to the capitalist system itself, which is carceral and authoritarian whether in its neoliberal form or “statist”  forms.



Afary, Kamran.  Performance and Activism:  Grassroots Discourse After the Los Angeles Rebellion of 1992.  Lexington,  2009.

Fromm,  Erich.  “The State as Educator:  On the Psychology of Criminal Justice”  in Critical Criminology:  Beyond the Punitive State.  Kevin B. Anderson and Richard Quinney, editors.   University of Illinois Press,  2000.

Gilmore,  Ruth Wilson.  Golden Gulag:  Prisons, Surplus Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California.  University of California Press, 2007.

Hartnett, Stephen John.  Challenging the Prison Industrial Complex.  University of Illinois Press, 2011.

Law, Victoria.  Resistance Behind Bars:  The Struggles of Incarcerated Women.  P.M. Press,  2009.

Alexander,  Michelle.  The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.  The New Press, 2012.

Wang, Jackie.  Carceral Capitalism.  Semiotext(e),  2018


“Fighting the Prison Industrial Complex” in Communication and Critical Cultural Studies. Volume 4, 2007 – issue 4 (pp. 402-420)

Ralston, Romarilyn.  Revisiting the Prison Industrial Complex.  Open Democracy, April 15, 2018.


لیلا حسین زاده.  “گزارشی کوتاه از بند زنان زندان اوین.”  زمانه 29 اسفند 1398

گزارشی از زنان زندانی در زندان های ایران.  بیدارزنی.  20 اسفند 1398

انتشار گزارش سالانه اطلس زندان های ایران.  زمانه 21 اسفند 1398

Video Dialogues

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Alliance of MENA Socialists.  Campaign in Solidarity with Feminist Political Prisoners in the Middle East