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The City of Geneva is requesting clemency from the President of the United States, Mr. Joe Biden, for the Native American activist Mr. Leonard Peltier

Following a meeting with matriarchs of the Lakota people concerning the imprisonment of Mr. Leonard Peltier, which has endured for almost 50 years, the City of Geneva will ask the President to show clemency to the Native American activist.

Mr. Peltier was imprisoned following a confrontation involving members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) from the Chippewa and Lakota nations, during which two FBI agents died during an exchange of gunfire. He was found guilty of their murder but has always denied the charge. Serious doubts remain over the fairness of the procedure that resulted in his trial and conviction. His applications for parole have been rejected on several occasions. The deterioration in his state of health is causing alarm and demands for his release have been made by organizations ranging from the United Nations to Amnesty International.

On Tuesday, September 27, 2022, Ms. Jean Roach (a survivor of the 1975 shootings following which Mr. Leonard Peltier was arrested, and Vice-President of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee) and Ms. Carol Gokee (founder and director of the coalition Rise Up for Peltier) paid a courtesy call on Mr. Alfonso Gomez, Vice-President of the Executive Council at the Palais Anna et Jean-Gabriel Eynard. Ms. Roach and Ms. Gokee informed Mr. Gomez of their action to combat arbitrary detention and protect the rights of indigenous populations.

During their visit, the matriarchs were accompanied by representatives of the BreakFree Suisse group, which campaigns for disinvestment in fossil fuels, including by engaging in civil disobedience. BreakFree Suisse also supports the cause of indigenous populations, who are on the front line with regard to climate change and whose lands are regularly threatened by projects with a high environmental impact. While the way of life of these populations, which is symbiotic with the ecosystems on which they depend, makes them especially vulnerable to climate change, they are also heirs to unique ancestral knowledge that has been built up over centuries. The Paris Climate Agreement, the New York Declaration on Forests, and recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognize that they have an essential role to play as sentinels for the climate.

The City of Geneva has long been committed to self-determination, in particular for indigenous populations. Our city took a pioneering stance in the 1920s when it offered official support to Chief Deskaheh of the Iroquois Confederacy. It has subsequently met with representatives of Native American populations on several occasions.

According to recent news, the release of Mr. Leonard Peltier could be possible if he were granted clemency by the President of the United States, Mr. Joe Biden. Mr. James H. Reynolds, a former prosecutor who was involved in the conviction of Mr. Peltier in the 1970s, now believes that “the prosecution and imprisonment of Mr. Leonard Peltier were and are unjust.” Accordingly, Mr. James H. Reynolds has asked President Biden to grant clemency to Mr. Peltier as a step towards healing the “broken relationship” between Native Americans and the United States government.

In September 2022, the National Committee of the United States Democratic Party adopted a unanimous resolution urging Mr. Biden to release Mr. Peltier. The Executive Council is supporting this appeal, by asking the President of the United States to grant clemency to Mr. Peltier.


Anne Bonvin Bonfanti

Département des finances, de l'environnement et du logement

Conseillère de direction

Contact médias

5, rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville




Tél. +41 22 418 22 43


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Article modifié le 10.11.2022 à 15:38