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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience 2006 - SOA 16 Melissa Helman
Melissa Helman PDF Print E-mail
Melissa Helman was released on May 18, 2007 after serving a 60 day sentence for tresspassing onto the Ft. Benning Military Reservation during the 2007 November Vigil to Close the SOA

I am a 23 year-old student attending Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, about one mile away from breathtaking Lake Superior. I am currently studying Native American Studies with a self designed emphasis in social justice and lifeways.

After spending over a year meditating and reflecting upon my experience at the SOA Protest in 2005, I consciously decided to "cross the line" for a small indigenous village of the Way'uu people, in Bahia Portete, Colombia, whom in 2004 expereinced a massacre, killing 12 women and children, and for every being who has suffered from harmful actions. I crossed over to honor, remember, and bring light and breath back to those who were massacred, to survivors of torture, their family and friends, and to add another ounce of love, hope, and awareness to the universe.

Melissa Helman's Statement:

Dear Beautiful Friends,

I am here today because according to the United States Government, I criminally trespassed onto the Fort Benning military base on November 19, 2006.

The law states that as soon as my feet rested upon the earth, in which the government claims to ?own?, I knowingly and non-violently broke a law created by the confining structures that create all laws. My actions and those of my co-defendants could result in the imprisonment of my breathing heart and the hearts of fifteen others.

So, I stand here in court today stating that I am not-guilty of a criminal act but guilty of being a conscience individual and am willing to stipulate to the "facts" of the case. I will say that according to the law, I overstepped the boundary that separates military territory from the township. I crossed onto the base and am "guilty" in the eyes of the system. To me, these linear boundaries such as fencing, ownership, and control are obstacles built to keep concerned civilians from expressing the truths that need to become common knowledge.

If we are unaware of and do not experience the harsh realities that reside within this world, then we are not living. Most importantly, if we passively allow the injustices that occur under and within our foreign policies, specifically those directed at Latin America, we allow the oppression that our imperialistic attitude imposes to develop, expand, and thrive. If we want peace, we must be peace, if we want to heal a broken world, we must heal ourselves first by acknowledging the actualities of our unjust and inhumane history. On November 19th, I did just that.

I carried a flower vibrant with life, full of shades of yellow onto the boundaries of the military base. Inside of that flower was great love, honor, and remembrance for a small indigenous village in Bahia Portete, Colombia. In 2004, 12 women and children were massacred upon their ancestral grounds, their lives innocently taken by soldiers under the command of one trained in torture and terrorism within the walls of Fort Benning. These violent acts left children to die helplessly in the arms of women who were slain, without valid reason or respect. In my mind, this is the ultimate atrocity against the human rights that our nation claims to hold supreme. The Way'uu people honor their women and children as the future of their people; without them, they are gone. The violence committed on that day has permanently impacted the Way'uu way of life. Every day they are haunted by scars that run deeper than the individual lives that were taken, deeper than the history that has linked the Way'uu people to the land, and even deeper than humans can express.

It may seem that my climbing a fence and breaking a law is worthy of prison time or punishment, but consider the lack of justice present when soldiers who have committed these crimes against humanity are allowed freedoms when those who choose to speak up for the voiceless are imprisoned. For in the end, I know that this sentence has come out of understanding and acknowledged the truth, connecting the mysteries of life, empathy, and awareness to those eyes I have never seen but carry within my being. I can only hope that those who wait patiently for justice will soon be served it.

I hope that within every ounce of me that those waiting will receive answers from those responsible for the deaths of their community members, children, mothers, fathers and friends. I stand with them today, everyday, as I stand here with you, in hopes of mending a broken hoop. I hope that we as individuals will take responsibility within each of ourselves to ensure healing and peace within, each other, and all that exists. In our conscience I know that we are able to separate ourselves from that in which confines. We are all in need of healing, growth, and renewal. I truly hope within every breath of my being that we come to know it, live it, stand for it, and be it within the universe.

Thank You.


Thoughts:

I feel it is our responsibility as human beings to ensure the safety of our next seven generations, all of the existing life forms here, and to be conscience of the injustices that continue to exist on a daily matter within the entire world and all beings that reside. I have personally chosen to embark on this journey of awareness because I feel it is essential in today's era that we as human beings learn how to place ourselves aside for a moment and realize that in order to attempt to heal the sickness that exists we must unite with each other regardless of religion, race, sex and gender, etc. in order to help the entire world. We have to know peace, be peace, and live peace if we truly want to see it.

I have faith that within every being there is a beating heart in which knows love and contains a deep sense of what is right and wrong and that they have the ability to know torture, hate, and violence is a weapon of great harm. I firmly believe that even though throughout history man and woman have been imperfect and continue to be so, that wars have existed and continue to do so, as we grow and learn, we will one day come to know that love is more supreme and more powerful than all the hate in the world, and that it just takes honesty and internal realization to commit to it. We just have to believe and know it, not fear what others may think about our actions and beliefs, but speak for them, stand for them, and even be prisoned for them.

?I see you all in every snowflake as they shape and rest upon the earth; meditating upon the gentle flows of our connected heartbeats.

You my loves are a projection of the sunrise over the heated dessert sands, the fire red in the morning that resides inside of each of our passions.

As the earth breathes in the tinted blue sky, we exhale our first stretches of another miraculous sight of our soul lit eyes; For those who cannot see, wash ashore beneath rhythms of graceful waves simply encircling delicate grains of traveled wisdom.

I am waiting in the sunlit rays of olden pine trees, the iced songs of spring water, in your tears of aged deepened truth.

Tomorrow the moon will shine renewal through our shadowed faces, converse softly for she hears our whispers vibrate through the peaks of snow covered mountains.

We are the mountains, the meadows powdered in eloquent prints of fawns, the offerings of maple leaves resembling ancient cedar promises.

My loves, the beauty you radiate causes me to free, to dance along the bars that will shortly detain my bodied spirit. Through your hope, I blow within the footsteps of your overworked feet; your hands full of creased aging, the hushed children's voice you humbly share, continue to grace my eyes with star-lit orchestras, the gentle touch of knowing, your eyes that capture my strayed breath in the witness of northern lights, Breathe for me the sweet smell of frosted air I will not know through a foreign concrete.

As we gaze amidst the final lit hours within another passing daylight, tap upon the painted dusk, comfort my purest wishes for healing glaciers in the artic, oil spills that solidify channels of warmth, your own health and contentment;

Live for me, moments of here and now as I contemplate my future silence; reminiscing upon the gaze of your eyes, live for me the sun that pollinates all life forms, the beat of our hearts that glide along the simple flights of birds, harvesting the nature you see, be the love I live for daily while I'm striving to free.?

 

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