American Muslim activist Sekou Odinga said that the "internally oppressed nations" - including the indigenous people, the "New Africans," Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Hawaiians - had the right to conduct armed struggle for their "self-defense and liberation." Speaking at the opening plenary session of the annual Left Forum convention, held at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, on June 2, Odinga claimed that the U.S. was using the war on terror and the "xenophobic war on immigrants" to repress minorities and immigrant communities. Odinga, who served a long prison sentence for attempted murder and for RICO violations, was presented by moderator Laura Flanders as a former "U.S.-held political prisoner of war." He said that it was the responsibility of the left to agitate and organize the people "to resist the oppressor state by any and all means." Other panel members were artist and author Molly Crabapple, journalist and black activist Glen Ford, and American Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour. Oscar Lopez Rivera, a leader of the Puerto Rican FALN paramilitary organization, who was recently released from prison, addressed the audience by phone. A video of the session was posted on the YouTube channel of Other Voices, Other Choices on June 26.
Sekou Odinga: "For the US to acknowledge the existence of political prisoners and prisoners of war would be to admit that there are fundamental injustices that stem from the settler colonialism that built this country, that the internally oppressed nations, the indigenous people, New Africans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Hawaiians, etc., have the right to freedom and self-determination. They have the right to struggle, using whatever tactics and strategies – armed and otherwise – for their self-defense and liberation.
"Mass incarceration has been used to repress, control, and destroy black self-determination, in the same way that the war on poverty and the war on drugs was used. This is the same way that the war on terror and the xenophobic war on immigrants is being used to control and repress Muslims and immigrant communities today. These are strategies of war, meant to dismantle, disrupt, and otherwise neutralize poor working-class families and communities. They are meant to prevent self-determination and the potential for militant resistance.
"It is the responsibility of the left to educate, agitate, organize the people, especially young people, to resist the oppressor state by any and all means."