December 17, 2015
Philadelphia: Pam Africa – 267-760-7344; Joe Piette – 610-931-2615
NYC: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition - 212-330-8029
12/18: MUMIA SUPPORTERS CONVERGE IN SCRANTON TO DEMAND HEP C TREATMENT FOR PA PRISONERS
On Friday, December 18, a car caravan from Philadelphia, a bus from New York City, and other vehicles from Pittsburgh, Baltimore and other cities will converge in Scranton, PA to support political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal at a Federal Court hearing on Friday, December 18.
The Philadelphia car caravan will take off at from JFK Blvd & 31st St., west of 30th St. Station, across from the BOLT & MEGA buses.
In New York City, a full bus will begin loading at at the MLK Labor Center 1199SEIU, 310 West 43rd Street (between 8th – 9th Aves.).
Federal Court Judge Robert Mariani has ordered a full evidentiary hearing to determine if the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) will be required to provide the new direct-acting, antiviral medication with a 95 percent cure rate for HCV (hepatitis c virus) to Abu-Jamal.
The hearing will take place at the William J. Nealon Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 235 N. Washington Ave, in Scranton. The proceeding starts at and is expected to last a full day, perhaps extending into .
Supporters who cannot fit into the courtroom will participate in a rally and direct action outside the courthouse, which will include speakers, banners and signs throughout the day.
On December 15, a letter including 108 members of the European Parliament and the French senate was sent to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe encouraging the following, e would like to share our concerns about the very poor health of Mr. Mumia Abu Jamal, suffering from hepatitis C, which can be fatal if not treated quickly with the appropriate care. As you know, nternational law provides that every human being, even a prisoner, is entitled to health care. We would be grateful for your quick intervention in order to provide to Mr. Mumia Abu-Jamal with the appropriate care, in a hospital with doctors of his choice.” The hearing takes place in the wake of this letter and thousands of signed petitions, phone calls and emails plus meetings, street actions and pressure from sympathetic state officials.
Mumia’s wife Wadiya Jamal said in a December 17 statement to Judge Mariani “One year ago today Samiya, our youngest daughter, died of cancer at the age of thirty-six. Mumia wasn’t home to see her, to hold and comfort her, her two young daughters or me. He hasn’t been to her gravesite. Mumia is in prison for life for a crime he did not commit! This past year Mumia has been critically ill. He is suffering from a horrible, itching torturous skin condition and almost died of diabetic shock. He has Hep C that the prison has refused to treat.”
The DOC currently has no standard of care for treating prisoners with HCV. Prison authorities willfully ignored Mumia's health crisis until a fellow prisoner, Major Tillery, confronted prison superintendent John Kerestes, warning him that Mumia might die unless he was hospitalized immediately. The superintendent refused to listen, and Mumia went into a diabetic coma. Major Tillery was shipped to another prison to be placed in solitary confinement for four and a half months.
Supporters initiated a campaign that led to the discovery of medical proof that Mumia’s ailments stem from untreated HCV that he contacted via a blood transfusion after being shot by police 34 years ago. The DOC is denying the lifesaving treatment "until the final stages of the condition" - which would be equivalent to a death sentence for Mumia!
Abu-Jamal's legal team will make a strong case during the hearing on why Mumia and thousands of other HCV-infected prisoners in Pennsylvania need immediate treatment. Most leading hep C specialists and national HCV organizations now recommend immediate treatment with this drug. Abu-Jamal will testify via videoconferencing - the first time in decades he will be given the opportunity to testify in court. If he is successful in winning the hep C treatment, it will set a precedent that can potentially help infected prisoners throughout Pennsylvania and other states.
Medical evidence and statistics show that HCV, if left untreated, will spread throughout communities when prisoners return home, generating a public health crisis that has a disproportionate impact on people of color and impoverished communities. The same population is also impacted negatively by the outrageously high prices charged by pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences for this lifesaving medicine.
Amnesty International and other human rights organizations maintain Abu-Jamal was unfairly convicted in the 1982 killing of a Philadelphia policeman. A solidarity movement won his removal from death row, but he is still in prison and will die of medical neglect from untreated hepatitis C unless state officials are forced to give him proper treatment. As an innocent man, supporters demand that Mumia be released immediately.
The International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC), Educators for Mumia, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, the International Action Center and other organizations are urging the public to attend the hearing.