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Hold the Torturers Accountable! PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 21:52
Lack of Prosecution of U.S. Officials Paved the Way for New Abuses

Reports of US-sponsored torture by the CIA and in Brazil have put the issue back in the media spotlight. SOA Watch maintains that torture is nothing new within the US military, and that it didn't start with 9/11. The lack of accountability for the use of the SOA torture manuals at the School of the Americas, and other atrocities, contributed to the torture that was perpetrated by the CIA and publicized in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture.

Click here to read the SOA Watch media release Torture has a long History in U.S. Policy.

Click here to send a message to Congress and President Obama, to demand prosecutions of U.S. officials involved in torture and human rights abuses.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 17:14
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Mobilizations Connect Struggles against State Violence PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hendrik Voss   
Thursday, 04 December 2014 18:41
"You Can't Stop the Revolution!"

You Can't Stop the RevolutionEdward Dubose of the NAACP and 2,500 human rights activists chanted "You Can't Stop the Revolution" at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia (video). We are as determined as ever to end militarized state violence in the US and abroad.

The 25th November Vigil themed "Communities in Resistance, Presentes!" was a great success and brought together torture survivors, migrants, people of faith, students, union workers and grassroots activists from Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Venezuela, Canada, and the United States. Together, we are building a new culture of justice and peace. Click here to watch a video from the vigil by Jihan Hafiz and check out the photos by Tom Bottolene, Amy Held, and others.

Linking Immigrant Rights and the Struggle against US Militarization:
On Saturday, November 22 a procession of over 1,000 human rights activists marched from Lumpkin, Georgia to the Stewart Detention Center. Procession at the gates of Fort Benning, GeorgiaActivists called for an end to the unjust imprisonment of immigrants and denounced the clear connection between US militarization and forced migration. Click here for photos from the march to Stewart.

On Sunday, November 23, the solemn funeral procession at the gates of Fort Benning commemorated those murdered at the hands of School of the Americas/WHINSEC graduates, including 16-year old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and six Jesuit priests, who were massacred in 1989 at the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador, as well as activists from Honduras, Mexico and Colombia killed earlier this year.

If you attended the November Vigil, we want to hear from you. Please take a moment to fill out the vigil survey.

ColombiaSimultaneous actions were organized in Bogota, Colombia and in Santiago, Chile. Click here to watch a video from the Colombia action, which took place on November 21 in front of the Defense Ministry, demanding that Colombia stop sending soldiers to the SOA/ WHINSEC. For a report back and photos from the march to the presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, click here.


We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes
Speakers on the stage at the gates of Fort Benning, and in several of the workshops in the Columbus Convention Center, talked about the link between US-backed militarization in Latin America, and the militarization of US police forces. The looming decision about possible charges against the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, was on everyones mind. When the appalling Grand Jury decision was announced on Monday, SOA Watch activists joined countless marches and rallies, and took to the streets throughout the country. Our struggles stand together!

Yesterday, we took to the streets again, as part of the national day of action against Plan Mexico. In DC, we joined forces with #DCFerguson, and shut down Dupont Circle to call attention to the murder of 43 students from #Ayotzinapa in Mexico, the police murder of Eric Garner and Mike Brown; and to protest the militarization of our communities across the Americas.


Nonviolent Direct Action in Georgia - Crossing the Line
Nonviolent Direct Action and prison witness has been a key element of many struggles for social justice. Seven of our friends were arrested during the vigil weekend and are facing charges:
Eve being handcuffed by Military Police
On Sunday, November 23, Eve Tetaz, an 83-year-old author, veteran peace and justice activist and retired public schoolteacher from Washington, DC, crossed through a side entrance onto the Fort Benning military base in a solitary nonviolent witness, carrying with her a poster of one of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, disappeared in Mexico, and the prophetic Isaiah verse, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares.” After the procession at the main gates concluded, longtime SOA Watch activist Nashua Chantal, a 62-year-old human rights defender from Americus, Georgia, Nashua Crossing the Linecarried a ladder to the fence which military police erected to keep our peaceful message from entering the base. This is the third arrest at Fort Benning for Nashua, who previously served a three-month sentence in 2005 and six months in 2013 for crossing the line. Click here to watch a video of Nashua crossing the line.

Nashua and Eve are scheduled to appear in court for their arraignment on January 13, 2015. They are facing up to six months in federal prison for their nonviolent witness for justice.

Five other solidarity activists, Anton Flores, Jason McGaughey, Kevin Caron, Maureen Fitzsimons, and Rebecca Kanner were arrested on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at the gates of the Stewart Detention Center. Arrests at the Stewart Detention CenterThe five carried their nonviolent message of justice and dignity for all onto the property of the Corrections Corporation of America, which warehouses 1,800 men at Stewart for profit in horrific conditions which dehuminize and attempt to take away migrant's dignity. Click here to watch a video of the civil disobedience action.

SOA/WHINSEC training is among the roots causes which force people to migrate and flee their countries. Many immigrants to the United States are victims of US-sponsored military atrocities in Latin America. In its fight to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC, SOA Watch continues to work towards a world that is free of suffering and violence. SOA Watch considers deportation quotas, mandatory detention, for-profit immigration detention centers, the militarization of the border, the drug war and the training of repressive forces at the SOA/WHINSEC, as all parts of the same racist system of violence and domination. A dismantling of these and other policies is needed for there ever to be true "Comprehensive Immigration Reform."

Get organized! For tips for your local organizing work on creating egalitarian structures, building community, holding meetings, speaking publicly, fundraising etc, visit soaw.org/organize

P.S. Can you make a $25 donation to SOA Watch?


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Last Updated on Thursday, 04 December 2014 18:43
 
Tell the U.S. Gov - End Plan Mexico! Ayotzinapa Presente! PDF Print E-mail

Join Thousands Across the U.S. to Demand End to Plan Mexico

We wrapped up another energizing November Vigil last week! Thanks to all that made it to Georgia from 11/21-11/23! We will get a full vigil report back to you soon. For now, we invite you to come out to one of over 43 events across the U.S. for the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students this Wednesday, December 3 and to sign an online petition urging the Senate to initiate a long overdue review of U.S. military aid to Mexico:

About 2 months ago, the Mexican police killed six people and disappeared 43 students from Ayotzinapa. This horrific event has unleashed an unprecedented protest movement in Mexico, where the Ayotzinapa 43 have become a symbol of the over 25,000 disappeared and 100,000 killed since "Plan Mexico" was implemented through U.S. funding and military training.

This Wednesday, December 3rd, it will be the turn of those living in the U.S. to demand an end to their government's complicity in the human rights violations in Mexico. Demonstrations will be held in over 43 cities to symbolize the Ayotzinapa 43. We urge you to attend an event near you (organizers are asking protesters to wear white), which are being organized under the banner of #UStired2, a modification of the protest and social media refrain from Mexico, #YaMeCanse, which has gone viral.

Click Here to Find a 12/3 Event Near You

We are also asking our supporters to sign and share the following petition to Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committe: http://SOAW.org/mexico

Sen. Menendez needs to utilize his sizable power to hold a hearing to review the effects of U.S. military and police aid to Mexico. The petition has already signed by thousands after being written and promoted by our allies at Presente.org. Sen. Menendez is already feeling the heat from activists like you, and it is time to turn it up even higher. The petition and signatures will be delivered to Sen. Menendez's DC office on Wednesday 12/3. Please add your voice to the growing chorus demanding an end to U.S. complicity in massacres and corruption in Mexico.

The Ayotzinapa massacre has tragically highlighted the Mexican state's increasing involvement in gross human rights violations since the escalation of the so-called "Drug War" in 2006, an escalation militarily, politically, and financially backed by the U.S. This Wednesday, together we will lift the veil of impunity and denounce the U.S.’s role in the violence-as-development model. From Ayotzinapa to Ferguson, we demand justice!

In solidarity,

SOA Watch - Ana, Arturo, Brigitte, Hendrik, Jenne, Katherine, Karolina, Maria Luisa, Pablo, and Roy

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2014 16:00
 
November Vigil Concludes with Solemn Funeral Procession & Two More Civil Disobedience Arrests PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hendrik Voss   
Monday, 24 November 2014 16:48

Reportbacks, vidoes, photos of the 25th Annual Vigil:
Communities in Resistance, Presentes!


Grassroots Mobilizations Connect Struggles against State Violence and Injustice


Columbus, Georgia – 2,500 human rights activists braved the rainstorms on Sunday, November 23 and converged at Fort Benning to call for an end to militarized state violence in the US and abroad. Featured presenters came from Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Venezuela, and the US.

Following the stage program, a solemn funeral procession commemorated those murdered at the hands of School of the Americas/WHINSEC graduates, including the two women and six Jesuit priests who were massacred in 1989 at the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador, as well as activists from Honduras, Mexico and Colombia killed earlier this year.  

Eve Tetaz, an 83-year-old author, veteran peace and justice activist and retired public schoolteacher from Washington, DC, crossed the line onto Fort Benning in solitary nonviolent witness at 9 am, carrying with her a poster of one of the 43 students disappeared in Ayotzinapa, Mexico this September, and the prophetic Isaiah verse, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares.” After the procession concluded, longtime SOA Watch activist Nashua Chantal, a 62-year-old human rights defender from Americus, Georgia, carried a ladder to the fence which military police erected to keep our peaceful message from entering the base. This is the third arrest at Fort Benning for Chantal, who previously served a three-month sentence in 2005 and six months in 2013 for crossing the line.

Five other solidarity activists were arrested yesterday on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at the gates of the Stewart Detention Center. The five carried their nonviolent message of justice and dignity for all onto the property of the Corrections Corporation of America, which warehouses 1,800 men at Stewart for profit in horrific conditions which have led to the death of at least one detainee.

The civil disobedience action followed a procession of about 1,000 human rights activists from Lumpkin, Georgia to the Stewart Detention Center. Activists called for an end to the unjust imprisonment of immigrants and denounced the clear connection between US militarization and forced migration.

SOA/WHINSEC training is among the roots causes which force people to migrate and flee their countries. Many immigrants to the United States are victims of US-sponsored military atrocities in Latin America. In its fight to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC, SOA Watch continues to work towards a world that is free of suffering and violence. SOA Watch considers deportation quotas, mandatory detention, for-profit immigration detention centers, the militarization of the border, the drug war and the training of repressive forces at the SOA/WHINSEC, as all parts of the same racist system of violence and domination. A dismantling of these and other policies is needed for there ever to be true "Comprehensive Immigration Reform."

###

for photos and videos of the November Vigil weekend, visit http://SOAW.org/november

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 November 2014 16:07
 

For updated information from the November Vigil, visit SOAW.org/november

Activists Protest one of Largest US Immigrant Prisons, Caravan to Fort Benning, home of the School of the Americas

5 Human Rights Activists Arrested

On Saturday, November 22, hundreds of human rights defenders converged in the remote town of Lumpkin, Georgia, whose largest employer is the Corrections Corporation of America at the Stewart Detention Center. Stewart is one of the largest immigrant prisons in the US, currently warehousing 1,800 men for profit. These detainees' only “crime” was to flee the economic and political violence in their home countries, violence created by US policies and training like at the SOA/WHINSEC. In the wake of President Obama’s announcement about his executive actions in regards to immigration, the activists marched 1.7 miles from central Lumpkin to the Stewart Detention Center.

At a vigil in front of the prison, the activists demanded the release of the immigrants who are imprisoned at Stewart, an immediate end to mass deportations, and the closure of the Stewart Detention Center. Five activists were arrested for their nonviolent civil disobedience at the gates of Stewart: long-time union activist Maureen Fitzsimmos; Rebecca Kanner, former SOA Watch prisoner of conscience from Michigan; Anton Flores, the vigil organizer from the Alterna community and the Georgia Detention Watch coalition; Jason McGaughey, of Washington, DC; and Kevin Caron of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition. Bail was set at $25,000 for Anton Flores, and $1,000 for each of the others, but the SOA Watch Legal Collective negotiated bonds down to $250 each.

"Love crosses borders -- fear erects walls," said organizer and Georgia Detention Watch coalition founder Anton Flores, lifting up his Alterna community slogan. "The depth of a loving society is going to be marked by how quickly we can close these facilities down."

Following the protest at the detention center, a caravan drove to the main gates of Fort Benning, the military base that is home to the US military training camp known as the School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or SOA/WHINSEC). The activists call out the connection between US-sponsored military repression in Latin America and forced migration.

SOA training is among the roots causes of migration, which forces people to flee their countries in Latin America. Many immigrants to the United States are victims of US-sponsored military training and atrocities in Latin America. In its fight to close the School of the Americas, SOA Watch continues to work towards a world that is free of suffering and violence. SOA Watch considers deportation quotas, mandatory detention, for-profit immigration detention centers, the militarization of the border, the "War on Drugs," and the training of repressive forces at the SOA/WHINSEC, as all parts of the same racist system of violence and domination. A dismantling of these and other policies is needed for there ever to be true "Comprehensive Immigration Reform."

Tomorrow, on Sunday, November 23, thousands will converge again at the gates of Fort Benning, for a solemn funeral procession to commemorate all victims of US militarization and violence. Visit http://SOAW.org/november for updates.

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