|Colombia Call-in Day -- Peace Vigils -- Prisoner Update|
SOA Watch Update
April 14, 2005
1. Colombia: April 26 National Call-in Day
2. Mother?s Day peace vigils
3. Prisoner of conscience update
4. Remembering Mary Swenson
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1. APRIL 26: NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY ON A NEW U.S. POLICY IN COLOMBIA
---> Take action for peace and accountability in Colombia.
Many of you are aware of the recent horrific massacre of eight members of the San Jos? de Apartad? Peace Community in northwest Colombia, most of them women and children. Witnesses identified the killers as members of the Colombian military, and peace community members saw the army?s 17th and 11th Brigades in the area around the time of the murders.
The Colombian and U.S. governmental responses to the massacre: The Colombian Uribe Administration is blaming the victims. The U.S. Embassy is silent. This is outrageous.
This horrific massacre has generated outrage and crucial momentum on issues of Colombia policy and U.S. accountability. We need your help to ensure that the U.S. government's response is swift and meaningful, and that the Colombian government conducts a transparent and thorough investigation of the incident.
---> ON APRIL 26, CONTACT YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. Below is a suggested message for you to convey:
"I am calling Congressman/woman________ because I am extremely concerned about violence against innocent civilians in Colombia. In February, eight civilians, including three children, were massacred in the peace community of San Jos? de Apartad?. The community holds the Colombian military responsible for this massacre. The United Nations has found that direct human rights violations by the Colombian military have increased in recent years; I don't believe that the United States should give more money to a military with such a horrendous human rights record.
?I am also calling to remind the Congressman/woman that Rep. Jim McGovern has introduced HR 1217, The Latin America Military Training Review Act of 2005, which would suspend and investigate the School of the Americas, which now uses the acronym WHINSEC. I urge the Congressman/woman to contact Rep. McGovern's office to become a cosponsor of this bill. This would be one very concrete step to support human rights and promote peace and justice for the people of Latin America."
For more information on the April 26 National Call-in Day visit http://www.peaceincolombia.org/callinday.htm.
For more information on HR 1217, Rep. McGovern?s new legislation to close and investigate the SOA/ WHINSEC visit http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=96.
CONGRESSIONAL SWITCHBOARD 202-224-3121
If you don't know the name of your representative or senators, look them up at http://www.senate.gov or http://www.house.gov/writerep.
Visit www.SOAW.org for background information, a sample letter to the State Department and other actions you can take TODAY to support the San Jos? peace community.
2. NATIONAL MOTHER?S DAY PEACE VIGILS
Join peace advocates across the United States protesting U.S. support for Colombia's military despite its continued violations of human rights. Your public witness will help prevent the San Jos? case from ending in impunity like the vast majority of violent deaths in Colombia.
TAKE A STAND FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND JUSTICE!
--> Mother?s Day Peace Vigils: April 26 - May 6
Locations Across the Country:
-- The U.S. Department of State, Washington DC, organized by Witness for Peace. May 6th 4:00 pm.
-- YOUR TOWN! Organize a vigil at an accessible public place in your town, Congressional district offices or simply a place that is meaningful to you, such as your church. Organize friends, neighbors, members of your place of worship, and family members to gather.
-- Other groups will hold vigils at Colombian Consulates: Colombia has at least nine operating consular offices in the United States -- in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.
Vigils held on and around the 8th Anniversary of the Peace Community helped raise the profile of the case and provided opportunity for engaging State Department officials on our requests. But Colombian Peace communities need a groundswell of support. By organizing a vigil in your town May 6th, you are standing in solidarity with the thousands of Colombian civilians struggling with determination and illogical courage for peace. You will relay your desire for U.S. policy promoting human rights and dismay with military solutions.
We stand with people seeking justice. Demand accountability. Refuse complicity.
For more information on the vigils, visit http://www.peaceincolombia.org/vigils.htm.
[The first Mother?s Day was a protest against the bloodshed of the Civil War by women who lost their sons. Learn more by reading the Mother?s Day Proclamation: http://www.peace.ca/mothersdayproclamation.htm].
3. REMEMBERING MARY SWENSON
Long time SOA Watch activist and peace advocate Mary Swenson of Minneapolis, Minnesota passed away on March 31, 2005.
A very dedicated activist in the campaign to close the SOA/ WHINSEC, Mary co-coordinated media for the hunger fast begun on Labor Day in 1990 at the front gates of Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. She also conducted research on the School of the Americas in the SOA's own library at Fort Benning!
Mary had courage and determination and was an inspiration and teacher to everyone she met. Those seeking guidance in the library at the Resource Center of the Americas were assisted with patience and expertise.
Visit Minnesota SOA Watch for more information and photos of Mary: http://www.circlevision.org/mnsoaw.html
And the Resource Center of the Americas: http://www.americas.org/
4. PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE UPDATE
Eleven SOA Watch activists are currently serving prison sentences of three to six months in federal prisons around the United States for their acts of nonviolent civil disobedience calling for the closure of the SOA/ WHINSEC in November of 2004. One important step you can take to support these ?prisoners of conscience? is to write them a letter.
For prison addresses and more information about each of these activists, visit: http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=322.
To read more about how you can support these peacemakers and other political prisoners, visit: http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=129.
5. THE HOTTEST READ IN TOWN: THE SOA WATCH NEWSLETTER
In the SOA Watch DC office, Sarah Mertz is finalizing the new 12-page edition of the ?SOA Watch Update,? the newsletter of the SOA Watch movement. Are you subscribed to this free tri-annual newsletter?
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