“We’re Not All Here”: Why We Must Fight to Free Political Prisoners in 2022


Charles Keener
 


Newly elected Chilean president Gabriel Boric’s victory speech was interrupted by a chant that went through the crowd: “We’re not all here.” This has become a slogan for many of the last vestiges of the 2019 Chilean uprising, a reference to the protesters who currently sit in cells, either awaiting trial or serving sentences for protesting the government. These political prisoners must be freed. What is left of the movement understands that, and they are demanding that Boric take action to free them — something he appears very hesitant to do.
This slogan is powerful because it reminds everyone who hears it that there are still political prisoners who have not been freed — and cops and government officials who have not been held accountable for their brutality. The slogan highlights the absence of their comrades still in jail for protesting injustice. Until they are freed, the movement isn’t as full as it should be. The movement isn’t all here, and those who are here have committed to fighting for those who aren’t. 
In 2022, activists in the United States should join our Chilean comrades and take up the struggle to free political prisoners as a central struggle of any social movement. This year will mark the second anniversary of the Black Lives Matter uprisings, meaning the second anniversary of activists sitting in prison cells on trumped-up charges. Not only is it a profound injustice that the state-backed killers of Black children walk free while those who dared to protest those killers sit in jail, but it also cripples the movement and puts the state in a better position to repress it going forward. We must fight to free not just the political prisoners of BLM but all other political prisoners who have been imprisoned for years. 

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