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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience Articles Eric Zibbel
Eric Zibbel PDF Print E-mail
For Christmas this year my grandmother gave me the wallet that my grandfather had carried throughout World War II. My grandmother made clear it clear to me that she had given me the wallet because she was proud of my courage and what she called my sacrifice to defend the democratic ideals of the United States. She explained to me that she at least in her mind I had illegally crossed the line at Fort Benning on November 17th for the same reasons that had inspired my grandfather to falsify his age and illegally enlist in the United States Army at the age of 17 to fight in World War II.

Your Honor; I am a nineteen year old resident of the State of Ohio currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in history at Oberlin College. When I crossed the line in November and trespassed on the Fort Benning Military Reservation, I did so armed with the knowledge of a shameful history of rape, murder and oppression levied on civilians of Latin American countries by graduates of an institution operated and funded by the United States. My expressed goal was to use my witness to create awareness about the lack of accountability for the dozens of atrocities and massacres perpetrated by SOA graduates in my local community and hopefully in the national media.

If anything, my study of history has proved to me that understanding the past is fundamentally important in understanding ourselves, on a societal and personal level. I understand that this court routinely makes the assertion that the SOA and WHISC are two separate entities, but by discounting the history of the School of the Americas, and namely the human rights record of its graduates, the voices of millions of individuals in Latin America have been silenced and disenfranchised. Today, as I did when I crossed the line, I strongly support the closure of the WHISC until a full investigation can determine its competence as an institution that claims to contain an extensive human right?s curriculum.

Although, I continue to have the utmost admiration for every person who is sacrificing their personal freedom to work for the closure of the WHISC, my personal reflection has made me consider how my future as a college student is threatened and ultimately, and more importantly, the emotional effects my family, and especially my mother, have recently suffered. Your honor, I promise to honor my Ban and Bar Letter. When you sentence me today, I ask you for probation, so I can continue to receive an education that will allow me to work within the system to accomplish my goals in the future. Even when one of those goals will continue to be working for the eventual closing of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

 

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