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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience Court Statements Open Letter from Imprisoned SOA Watch Activist Christopher Jones
Open Letter from Imprisoned SOA Watch Activist Christopher Jones PDF Print E-mail
April 26, 1998

Dear Friends,

While I and twenty-four other peaceful citizens of this country have been denied our freedom and sit locked behind prison doors, the doors to the U.S. Army's School of the Americas are wide open and the soldiers it trains are free to come and go. They are free to come and learn the latest techniques in violent repression, torture and assassination and they are free to go back to their home countries and to apply these techniques to their own people. We are told that they come to our country to learn about human rights and democracy and that they return to their own countries to fight the "just cause" whether it be the old "war on communism" or the new "war on drugs".

But what do courses in "commando tactics", "counter-intelligence", "high explosives", "sniper shooting", "urban warfare", "psychological operations" and countless others in a similar vein have to do with "human rights" and "democracy" and why do the wars we sponsor in Latin America whether on Communism or drugs always more closely resemble a war on the poor? And finally why is our government willing to pay countless millions of dollars of our tax money to ensure that Latin American soldiers are at liberty to execute this war on the poor and then to pay hundreds of thousands more to deny us our liberty when we attempt to speak on their behalf?

These are the questions that we have been imprisoned for asking. Fortunately, though, we are not the only ones who are asking them. You too are asking them and that is why you have assembled here today. When asked at our sentencing why he had given such harsh punishment to nonviolent protesters Judge Elliot responded that his main aim was "deterrence". His objective in putting us in prison was not so much to silence us as much as it was to silence you and all the others across the country who have taken up the call to close the School of the Americas. Judge Elliot's message to you is, "Keep silent, or else!" Thankfully you have chosen to ignore this message, to stand, on this occasion, in contempt of court.

I am humbled by your perseverance and courage in letting Judge Elliot, the School of the Americas, our military and our high officials know that the truth cannot be silenced. The truth of our role in the great suffering of millions of Latin Americans, the truth that the School of the Americas is not a "partnership in democracy" as they like to say but rather a partnership in terrorism and genocide cannot be silenced.

You all are proof of that and the fact that you are here alongside those gathered in Washington D.C. and across the country witnessing to that truth is a sign of great hope not only to myself and Paddy Inman locked-up down here in Sheridan, Oregon, but to all of the twenty-five SOA prisoners scattered across the country and even more importantly to our brothers and sisters in Latin America who are imprisoned by conditions of poverty and violence that we help sustain with each day that we allow institutions like the School of the Americas to go unchallenged and to operate with impunity.

I wish that I could be there with you today but know that you are in my thoughts and have my greatest respect, admiration and gratitude.

With love and hope,

Christopher Jones
Sheridan Federal Prison Camp


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