April 5th for the Cuban 5 - Father Michael Lapsley, Victim of Terrorism, Sends a Letter to Obama in Support of the Five
Michael Lapsley, who was born in New Zealand, joined the Society of the Sacred Mission and was sent to South Africa in 1973. There he became active in the anti-apartheid movement, ultimately joining the African national Congress. Exiled to Lesotho and then Zimbabwe, where he narrowly survived and assassination attempt, he returned to South Africa to found the Institute for Healing of Memories.
"Micheal's life represents a compelling metaphor...a foreigner who came to our country and was transformed. His life is part of the tapestry of the many long journeys and struggles of our people", Nelson Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa
To read his last book go to: Redeeming the Past My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer,
April 5, 2013
Dear President Obama,
I was in your country with friends the night you were first elected and I remember vividly the feeling of joy, relief and most importantly the hope that your victory represented. It was like a heavy weight being lifted not just off the U.S. but the whole world in general. The only comparison I can make to that night in 2008 was what I felt when after centuries of struggle apartheid was defeated in my country of South Africa.
I wish that I still had that hope about what your presidency represents. I am appealing to that sense of natural justice that I saw in you that night to release 5 Cuban men who came to the U.S. to monitor the activities of anti Cuban terrorists in Southern Florida in the 1990's. These men are now serving long sentences in your prisons, and the wives of two of them are even denied visas to visit them. I know that with all the international support that these men enjoy around the world that you are well aware of this case and that you could through the power bestowed on you in the U.S. Constitution have them released.
Mr. Obama what could be more noble than what these 5 men did in the war against terror and in defense of their homeland? If they had been young men from your country who had prevented a terrorist attack against the United States you most likely would be inviting them to dinner at the White House so you could bestow medals upon them.
I personally feel tremendous love and affinity for the Cuban 5 because I myself am the victim of a terrorist letter bomb during the waning days of the apartheid regime in 1990 that blew off both my hands, destroyed an eye, and other injuries. That bomb was a reaction of hatred to my work as a priest immersed in the liberation struggle against one of the most brutal and severe systems of racial oppression that the world has seen. Cuba stood with the people of South Africa against this oppression. One of the small ways that I have tried to pay my country's debt to Cuba is by visiting one of them, Gerardo Hernandez serving consecutive life sentences. As a South African these visits with Gerardo have a particular poignancy about them because they remind me of how our finest leaders were imprisoned, not because they were criminals, but because they sought freedom and justice for all.
Since my recovery I have embarked on a journey of healing with victims of terror conducting work shops around the world called the Healing of Memories. In this work I have come to realize that none of us have to be trapped in the past. The animosity that the U.S. has had towards the island of Cuba for decades does not have to be your burden. You have the unique position of being an active agent of change in helping to shape a better world.
The simple act of freeing the Cuban 5 will not only be a gesture of doing the right thing but will dry the eyes of an entire nation who view these men as heroes. This gesture will also be a catalyst towards the normalization of relations between your country and Cuba and will be a step towards healing the human family. I know you have it in you and I appeal to you to summon that courage.
With my prayers and best wishes, to you Sir in all that you do as a world leader to make the world a better and safer place for all,
Father Michael Lapsley SSM
Director Institute for Healing of Memories
5 Eastry Rd,Claremont, 7708
Republic of South Africa
Tel: +27-21-683 6231
Office email: firstname.lastname@example.org
REMEMBER ON FRIDAY APRIL 5TH TO CONTACT PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA TO JOIN THE WORLDWIDE DEMAND FOR THE FREEDOM OF THE CUBAN 5
DIFFERENT WAYS TO REACH THE WHITE HOUSE
Important: to all friends of the Cuban 5 and to the Solidarity Movement
This Monday April 1st we received the sad news that René's father, our beloved Cándido René González, passed away.
If it had a minimum of respect for human rights, the U.S. government would have offered René the permission to travel to Cuba for the funeral of his father. This did not happen. It was again René, through his lawyer, who is respectfully requesting to be allowed to travel to Cuba to support his family in these painful moments.
HERE is a motion filed by René's lawyer. If you did not receive the attached motion and want to see it, please write to email@example.com and we will send it to you.
Please show your support for René's rightful request for permission to travel to Cuba for two weeks in these sad circumstances.
Incorporate this request as part of the message of the 5th of every month
Call the State Department to demand that René Gonzalez be granted permission to travel to Cuba to be with his family
It is important to send copies to Amnesty International and other national and international human rights organizations.
International Committee for Freedom of the Cuban 5
For more information about the Cuban 5 visit: www.thecuban5.org
II Annual "5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washington DC" May 30 to June 5
To endorse: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comité Internacional por la Libertad de los 5 Cubanos