Behind Bars

Open Letter to the National Assembly

By Lynne Stewart

In the best-selling Steig Larsson trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the heroine, Lisbeth Salander, a hardwired, brilliant young computer genius is shot and presumed to be dead, but is actually buried alive by the antagonist. He is a prototype of the cruel, greedy, misogynistic, exploiter. She claws herself out of her premature grave and, indomitable and focused, defeats him. Finally by the end of volume three she has triumphed—using her own brains and, relying on her friends and comrades—over the entire corrupt corporate, governmental, military power structure that had been trying to oppress and suppress her, her whole life.

Thursday, July 15, Federal Judge John Koeltl attempted to bury me alive. Acting for the Government and Judges of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, he sentenced me at their demand, to more than five times the term he originally thought “right and just.” With his new sentence, of ten years, I am buried in the Prison Industrial Complex until I am nearly 80 years old, if I make it. But, believe me, I, like Lisbeth Salander, intend to lift the dirt off and, even if weakened and wounded, regain my voice and strength!

When the National Assembly was founded and had its first conference, it too had a formidable task—to become a democratic voice of the antiwar movement. It too had to shift and move and overcome sectarianism. To revive a weary, disillusioned antiwar movement. We have come a long way toward being the vibrant voice we envisioned when we had the first telephone conference. We have grown. We have tried to stay true to the notion that everyone who attended had a voice and that important policy issues and future plans must be decided by vote of the membership.

I have been out of the steering aspect due to my “unavailability,” but my husband, Ralph Poynter, is still dedicated and active. He represents both of us. Others, too numerous to mention, close to me in my previous life, also now stand for me. I miss many things from that life but most of all being part of the challenge to make lasting change in my lifetime by ending the scourge of imperialism and its endless wars and exploitation for ourselves and all the peoples of the world. LONG LIVE THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY!

Justice for Lynne Stewart, July 23, 2010