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KINGDOM OF SWEDEN: Free Albert Woodfox – Swedish artist Meja releases new single to support Amnesty International’s campaign.

15 Jan 2015
[International Secretariat]
Region: KINGDOM OF SWEDEN
Topic: Individual at risk

Meja read about Albert Woodfox in an Amnesty International magazine  and was touched by the profound injustice that he had been held in solitary confinement for over 42 years on a conviction so weak it had been overturned three times.  Still held in isolation, Albert Woodfox is the only remaining incarcerated member of the Angola 3.

Last Christmas eve, Meja sat down to write him a letter. 

His reply inspired Meja to write the song ”Yellow Ribbon”. 

 The stamps on the envelope of Albert’s letter to Meja read, ”Liberty Forever -Justice Forever”.  These words became the opening line of the song. 

”They encapsulate the hope” says Meja, ”that justice and freedom, for so long denied to Albert, will soon be his.” A November court ruling in his favour shows how close this time may be. As Meja was writing the song, the words ’Yellow Ribbon’ came to her. ”When I looked up their meaning, I understood why: families used to tie yellow ribbons in the trees to welcome released prisoners home”.

The song is being released in collaboration with Amnesty International who have been campaigning for justice for Albert Woodfox and against the cruel use of solitary confinement in the USA.

”I was deeply affected by Albert’s strength of mind in the face of the cruel injustice he continues to suffer. It is hard to believe in 2014  that an innocent man has been entombed in a cell for 23 hours a day for more than four decades. It´s tragic. I chose to leave the Christmas celebrations to sit in quiet solitude to write to Albert, acutely aware that the solitude I sought out has been his imposed daily reality for 42 years” Meja says.

In addition to asking people to join Amnesty International’s campaign for justice for Albert Woodfox ,and to end the cruel use of solitary confinement in US prisons, Meja is donating 10% of her profits from the sales of ”Yellow Ribbon” to the organisation.

About Albert Woodfox and Angola 3

Albert Woodfox and co-defendant Herman Wallace were convicted of the murder in 1972 of prison guard Brent Miller. They were placed in isolation  in Angola Prison , together with a third man, Robert King, who was accused of a different crime. Robert King was released in 2001 after serving 29 years in solitary. Herman Wallace was released in 2013 after a court overturned his conviction on the basis that he did not receive a fair trial in 1974. He died from liver cancer three days later. Together they are known as the Angola 3.

The men always denied any involvement in the crime and said they were falsely implicated because of their political activism in prison as members of the Black Panther Party. There was no physical evidence linking them to the crime and their conviction relied primarily on the dubious testimony of a sole eyewitness who received favourable treatment in prison in return for his testimony. The case against them was based on flawed evidence and riddled with procedural errors that have been extensively documented over the years.

Albert Woodfox’s conviction has been overturned three times; twice by state courts and once by a federal court. Each legal victory has been negated by the state as the Louisiana attorney general relentlessly fights to keep Albert behind bars. In November 2014, a federal appeal court affirmed an earlier court decision that he did not receive a fair retrial in 1998. This decision once more overturned Albert’s conviction, and yet today, he remains behind bars as the state once more appeals the decision.

15 January 2015
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

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