Clockwise from top left. Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera, National Boricua Human Rights Network - working tirelessly for Oscar's freedom, the last of Oscar's co-defendents Carols Alberto Torres is Free! July 26, 2010, and youth calling for the release of the remaining Puerto Rican Political Prisoners,
The US Parole Commission has daily received hundreds of calls, along with thousands of faxes and letters in support of US Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera over the last 3 week period. (Please see the 2/12 Freedom for Oscar López Rivera! post for more info) The National Boricua Human Rights Network is continuing the campaign to win freedom for Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. On Friday, February 18, the U.S. Parole Commission issued its decision in the case of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, stating “Deny parole. Continue to a 15-year reconsideration hearing in January 2026 or continue to expiration, whichever comes first.”
This decision ignores the express will of the Puerto Rican people and those who believe in justice and human rights, counting tens of thousands of voices supporting his immediate release, the Commission ignored the evidence establishing that Oscar met all the criteria for parole, and also ignored its own rules in the process. Among these many ignored voices are members of legislatures including the United States Congress; the state legislatures of New York, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania; the city councils and county boards of many locales in the U.S. and Puerto Rico; the mayors of many towns in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, including the Association of Mayors of Puerto Rico; bar associations including the Puerto Rico Bar Association, the National Lawyers Guild and the American Association of Jurists; clergy and religious organizations, including the Ecumenical Coalition representing every religious denomination in Puerto Rico; human rights advocates, academics, students, artists, community organizations, and workers.
Oscar and his attorney Jan Susler will meet next week to discuss the decision. Meanwhile, the National Boricua Human Rights Network in the U.S. and the Comité Pro Derechos Humanos in Puerto Rico will continue the campaign to express to the Parole Commission the depth and breadth of support for Oscar’s immediate release.
Oscar, his family, his attorney, National Boricua Human Rights Network in the U.S. and the Comité Pro Derechos Humanos in Puerto Rico want to express our deepest gratitude for the vast support for his release.
Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Project Denounces US Parole Commission's Decision
The Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Project denounces the US Parole Commission's decision to deny the parole petition of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, a father, grandfather, artist, community organizer, and decorated Viet Nam veteran who has spent nearly 30 years in prison for acts and beliefs in favor of independence for Puerto Rico.
In making this decision, the Parole Commission clearly failed to follow its own guidelines, which stipulate that the petitioner not pose a safety threat and not be likely to commit a future offense.
Past and present supporters of his release include Nobel Laureates such as Desmond Tutu and Rigoberta Menchu; scores of other prominent people, including elected officials, celebrities, and religious leaders and denominations, reflecting the broadest cross-section of the Puerto Rican society. Clearly his supporters would not be working to welcome him home to Puerto Rico if they considered it remotely possible that he posed a danger to themselves or their loved ones.
A whole generation has grown up in the thirty years that Mr. López Rivera has been in prison. Around the world, we see people breathing in the new possibilities of freedom and democracy, while students in one of the few remaining colonies in the Americas are maced and tear-gassed for engaging in peaceful protest at the University of Puerto Rico. Regardless of one's views concerning Puerto Rico's political status, it's past time for people of conscience everywhere to join in this call to pray, meditate, demand, and struggle to bring Oscar home.
Rev. Dr. C. Nozomi Ikuta
Co-Chair, Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Project.