ANOTHER LEONARD PELTIER SCANDAL IN THE MAKING - U.S. EXTRADITION ATTEMPT OF JOHN GRAHAM FOR ALLEGED MURDER OF ANNA MAE AQUASH
MNN. May 12, 2007. John Graham, an Indigenous man from the Yukon Territory in Canada, is being accused by the U.S. authorities of participating in the murder of Indigenous woman, Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, another “Canadian”. This happened more than 30 years ago. Both were members of the American Indian Movement [AIM]. Since when did the U.S. ever go after someone for killing an Indian? What’s behind it? John Graham is currently awaiting an extradition hearing in Vancouver, scheduled for May 17th, 2007. He has been under house arrest there since his apprehension in December 2003.
John Graham is well known for his lobbying on Turtle Island and Europe against Uranium mining in Canada and the Black Hills in South Dakota. This could be a factor in his being victimized by the U.S. and the FBI. They want to destroy an articulate Indigenous spokesman. Due to his strict bail conditions he can’t work. His main resource is worldwide support for his advocacy.
Forgotten by the U.S. and FBI is the reign of terror in the 1970s on Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. This was after the take over of “Wounded Knee” by the Lakota and their supporters. There has never been an investigation into the deaths of 64 native people. Many of these cases have been well documented and made public since then. Authorities have done nothing to try to achieve justice in these cases.
Just like the Leonard Peltier case, true to form, U.S. government agents are not using real evidence against Graham because they have none. Their case is based on hearsay “evidence” concocted by coerced witnesses. Peltier was convicted over 30 years ago for allegedly killing two FBI agents in a shoot-out on Pine Ridge reservation. It’s all been discredited. This time they are relying on testimony of another Indigenous man even though it is “so full of big holes you could drive a truck through it,” as John Graham’s lawyer has put it.
A well known FBI tactic used as part of COINTELPRO [counter intelligence program] was “bad-jacketing” where AIM members were falsely accused in order to cause internal conflict. Other well documented FBI tactics are infiltration, also with the purpose of causing internal conflict, and falsely charging and jailing innocent people. One of the first rumors initiated by the FBI was that Anna Mae was an FBI informant. This was ridiculous! After her death, the FBI then spread the rumor that she was killed by AIM.
A lot of people know John. No one has seen any evidence that he is capable of violence. No matter what our people do, we don’t have a tradition of killing our own. We are not Europeans.
There are all kinds of weird issues like the two autopsy reports. After the first autopsy, the FBI said she died of exposure. The family insisted on a second autopsy, which clearly showed she was shot in the back of the head. There have been lots of violations of due process. Canada has not even asked to look at the evidence.
Why is Canada so anxious to turn John Graham over to the U.S.? Is it to legitimize an unethical extradition treaty?
It’s a standard tactic to tie people up in court, take their resources and keep them from doing resistance work. This reflects the Canadian government’s racist approach. Canada is taking an unexamined approach to this case, passively following the U.S. lead.
The US and Canada have essentially agreed to rely on a handshake and a brief procedural review of the documents. Canada pretends to assume the US Government will act in good faith when prosecuting a case against a Canadian citizen. The lawyers are not allowed to see the evidence, even though they have raised many important issues which are not being addressed.
It is unconstitutional and a violation of international law for the Canadian Government to uphold only the rights of the United States in these proceedings. These practices do not allow Canadians to be protected as in other court proceedings. In this case, as an Indigenous person who never agreed to become “Canadian”, John isn’t a “citizen”. He’s deemed to be a citizen by the colonial state of Canada.
Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and sovereignty are in question when it allows a foreign nation with such an evil history of prosecutorial abuse to override its laws. Canada fears defending this individual against the foreign government's claim, even though there is plenty of reason to expect that the charges are false and malicious.
At the very least the Government of Canada, and the Ministry of Justice should make sure there is hard evidence submitted that can withstand reasonable scrutiny; that John Graham be provided with sufficient funding to mount a complete defense; and that the proceedings for extradition be open and accountable to the public.
The U.S. is in the habit of walking all over Canada. They’ve done it time and time again. Amnesty International has condemned the FBI for using false evidence to extradite Leonard Peltier from Canada in 1976. He’s been in jail every since. Amnesty International has called for his immediate release on the grounds that he no longer has adequate recourse to justice.
Once again the US authorities are presenting questionable evidence, this time to extradite John Graham. Violations of established legal standards seems to have become habitual in the U.S. Note the international outcry over U.S. violations at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. We have to wonder why Canada is pandering to a known human rights abuser.
Amnesty International in 2003 demanded that “there must be scrupulous respect for due process and fair trial proceedings…” They demand to know about “possible political interference in the course of justice”.
This case is another example of what the U.S. does. They want to destroy Indigenous opposition by publicly crucifying us. They know we have the legal interest to the land and resources and will protect it. This is a tactic to scare us, by extraditing us and putting us on big public trials and a media show to try to paint us as criminal and unworthy people. The U.S. way relies on fascist policing and terrorizing the opposition.
Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada