Colombia Urgent Action - Prisoner Updates - News - and more Print
SOA Watch Update
April 1, 2005

1. Colombia: Urgent Action
2. Prisoner of conscience updates
3. In remembrance of Bill Corrigan
4. Welcome to new SOA Watch Legislative Coordinator Pam Bowman
5. News from Latin America
6. Mark your calendars ? November Vigil 2005


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1. COLOMBIA: URGENT ACTIONS TO TAKE TODAY

Many of you received our urgent email on February 25 about the brutal massacre of eight members of the San Jos? de Apartad? Peace Community in Uraba, Colombia. Among the victims were Luis Eduardo Guerra, his partner and his son. Luis, an internationally recognized peace activist and a co-founder of the Peace Community, was a speaker at the November 2002 SOA Watch Vigil. Witnesses identified the assassins as members of the Colombian military.

Please take these steps today to seek protection and justice for the San Jos? de Apartad? Peace Community and to end US complicity in the targeting of civilians and the training of repressive forces.

? Contact your Representatives and urge them to sign on to HR 1217, Rep. McGovern?s new bill to suspend training at the SOA/ WHINSEC ? where Colombia is still the number one client ? and to investigate past abuses. To determine if your representative has signed on as a sponsor of this bill, visit http://thomas.loc.gov/, click on ?Enter Bill Number? and enter HR 1217 in the search box. By clicking on the "Bill Summary and Status" link, you can access information about the bill, including the list of current co-sponsors. For more information, visit the Legislative Action Index.

Please contact the State Department and urge them to take the following actions:
? Vigorously pressure the Colombian government to conduct a transparent investigation of the massacre and prosecute those found responsible in civilian courts;
? Withhold certification of security assistance to the Colombian military until the above noted investigations and prosecutions occur;
? Direct the U.S. Embassy to issue a public statement condemning the massacre and to visit San Jos? de Apartad? to show concern for the community's safety;
? Call on the Colombian government to provide protective measures to the community in consultation with community members, as required by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights;
? Support the Peace Community's need for protective measures to exclude the presence inside the community's populated areas of armed forces.

Click here for contact information and to view and download the sample letter to the State Department.

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2. PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE UPDATES

Prison witness has been a core element of the SOA Watch movement since its beginnings. In the tradition of countless activists and organizers who have struggled for a just world, SOA Watch activists have used peaceful, nonviolent resistance to expose the horrors of the SOA/ WHINSEC.

Eleven SOA Watch activists entered federal prisons around the country on March 15 to begin serving federal prison sentences of three to six months. These eleven were arrested in November of 2004 for walking onto Fort Benning and calling for the closure of the SOA/ WHINSEC. Their sacrifice and steadfastness in the struggle for justice provide an extraordinary example of love in action and have given tremendous momentum to the effort to close the SOA/ WHINSEC.

Click here for prison addresses and more information about each of these activists.

Click here to read more about how you can support these peacemakers and other ?prisoners of conscience.?


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3. IN REMEMBRANCE OF BILL CORRIGAN

Long time SOA Watch activist Bill Corrigan died in Marietta, Georgia on Friday, February 25th. He was 84. Bill and his wife, Lil Corrigan, have worked tirelessly for peace and justice. In 1995, Bill was one of ten people arrested at the main gate of Fort Benning while reenacting the 1989 massacre of 14-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and six Jesuit priests in San Salvador. At the age of 75, he served two months in an Atlanta federal prison.

Bill helped found a local chapter of Pax Christi at Transfiguration Catholic Church in 1996. Beginning in early 2003, he protested weekly in the Marietta Square against the war in Iraq.

Last year, when he became too weak to stand at the Marietta protests, "Bill would sit on a park bench with his sign, 'Support the troops, not the policy,' " Lil said.

Bill Corrigan, presente!

Click here To read an article about Bill from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Cards and messages of support may be sent to Lil Corrigan at 2237 Woodberry Lane SE; Marietta, GA 30067.


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4. WELCOME TO PAM BOWMAN, SOA WATCH?S NEW LEGISLATIVE COORDINATOR

The SOA Watch DC office is happy to welcome Pam Bowman as the new legislative coordinator! Pam, 24, joined the SOA Watch staff in February of 2005, after working for over a year as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. She has also been active in various social justice movements, including the campaign to end the death penalty. She enjoys music, making lists, racecars, and traveling, especially to Scotland and Florida to visit family. Contact Pam at pbowman(at)soaw.org.

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5. NEWS FROM LATIN AMERICA

- CAFTA PASSED IN GUATEMALA AMID CLOUDS OF TEAR GAS & BULLETS -

?On Tuesday, March 15, two protestors were killed and many were injured at Naranjales, near Huehuetenango, during a demonstration against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). As the anti-CAFTA rally ended, police and soldiers launched a violent attack on the crowd using batons and tear gas. Two protestors were fatally shot?.?

Click here to read more.

- THE LEGACY OF ARCHBISHOP ROMERO -

On Thursday, March 24, the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, ?thousands of admirers lined up in front of Romero's tomb in the San Salvador Cathedral, carrying flowers and votive candles. One group carried a giant sign with the prelate's face and the phrase, 'You were resurrected in your people.' Hundreds more marked the anniversary at the hospital chapel where he was shot through the heart while celebrating Mass??

Click here to read more.

- BRAZILIAN PANEL FINDS PLOT BEHIND NUN?S DEATH -

?Members of a [Brazilian] Senate commission said Wednesday they had found evidence of a broad conspiracy behind the killing of American nun Dorothy Stang. Para State Sen. Ana Julia Carepa, who headed the commission, said Para state police were remiss in not investigating whether the Feb. 12 killing involved people other than the four suspects arrested so far?.?

Click here to read more.

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6. MARK YOUR CALENDARS ? NOVEMBER VIGIL 2005

This year?s Vigil and Direct Action to Close the SOA/ WHINSEC is scheduled for NOVEMBER 18-20 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

HOTELS: It?s never too early to book your hotel room or campground! Click here for a list of accommodations in the Columbus area.

TRAVEL: Click here for information on traveling to Columbus.

PLUG IN: Have you thought about getting more involved in planning for the November vigil? It takes hundreds of volunteers to make the vigil the success it has been, and there are many different ways to plug in to the organizing work. Working groups are composed of individuals who dedicate their time to work on a specific area of the SOA Watch mission. Chances are, there?s an area that will fit your skills or interests. As a grassroots movement, the power is in the people involved! Click here for descriptions of and contacts for SOA Watch working groups.