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ASI Demands Release of Alleged Somali Pirate

Naira Ruiz | 5/13/2009, 9:55 a.m.

Members of the African Socialist International (ASI), a worldwide Socialist party that is part of the Uhuru (Freedom) Movement, held a press conference in front of the State Department on Thurs., May 7 to demand the release of Abdi Wali Muse and the end of what they described as €U.S. and European piracy throughout Africa.€

Muse is the alleged teenage Somali pirate who is being tried in the U.S. as an adult. ASI members contend that Muse is 15-years-old, but other sources put his age at anywhere from 16 to 19-years-old. However, according to Diop Olugbala, an ASI member and chair of the African Liberation Day Steering Committee, the fact that Muse is being tried at all is the main cause of outrage.

€His age is not the primary question, his captivity is a crime in itself,€ Olugbala said.

Muse€s treatment was likened to that of other African Americans under the current U.S. penal system.

€Now we see young Abdi Wali Muse treated like any other young African in the U.S. prison system. He has no humanity in the eyes of his oppressor,€ Olugbala said.

According to ASI members, any alleged piracy is the result of exploitative treatment of Somalia by other nations.

€We recognize that the Africans being characterized in Somalia today as €pirates€ are Africans whose ability to make livelihoods by any traditional means have been taken away by imperialism€s actions of real piracy,€ Olugbala said.

€The European and Asian companies that over-fish the waters in that region are stealing more than $300 million worth of fish from Somalia€s waters every year. On top of that, European companies have been using Somalia€s waters as a dumping ground for the past two decades for deadly toxic waste they wouldn€t allow anywhere near their own shores.€

According to Chioma Oruh, an ASI member and the National Secretary for the African Liberation Day Steering Committee, the need to protect Africa€s resources is crucial not only in Somalia but in other parts of Africa as well. However, ethnic and national divisions have hindered this effort.

€All over the continent of Africa, we see wars about ethnicity and national identity. We are committed to a unified African identity and to helping others recognize that ethnic and national divisions in Africa are secondary to the main issue, which is we don€t have access to our resources in Africa,€ Oruh said. €Industrialization cannot function without resources from Africa and yet Africans have some of the most horrific mortality and poverty statistics.€

Another objective of the press conference was to promote African Liberation Day weekend (ALD) which will take place May 23 to 24 in Washington, D.C. at the Carlos Rosario Charter School. The event will commence on Fri., May 22 at 7 p.m. with a Black and Proud Concert. The goal of the African Liberation Day weekend event is to establish a North American Regional committee of the ASI.

In spite of the outrage over the situation in Somalia and elsewhere in the African Diaspora, ASI members insist that the goal of the ASI comes from a positive place.

€Our need for unity is not a reaction to our oppression; it comes from the need of progression of African people,€ Oruh said.