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April Days of Action Report Back
SOA Watch rocked the house at Haydee's Restaurant on Sunday night! After a few initial days of creating cardboard cut-outs, banners, and signs, we let loose with the amazing local musical talent of Tierra Morena and Seven Jackson. We came together as a community to rock out against the oppression, share a laugh, a dance-step and build up our collective energy to chip away at the crumbling Empire! Thank you to the talented musicians, Haydee's staff and all the great SOA Watch activists - who came from Oregon, Washington, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Virginia and many more places - for the memorable night!
On Monday, we started out the morning with a training from the Legislative Working Group, about upcoming legislation in Congress, and how to meet with a member of Congress. Grassroots lobbying may not have the money that Pentagon lobbyists have, but they sure do have the heart! The training gave activists the tools to convey a powerful message of truth to those in power, and many took off directly to meet with their legislators. Following lunch, we prepared for the rally, and discussed possible direct action scenarios.
Later in the evening, SOA Watch activists channeled the energy of the day and that of our compañer@s from across the Americas through the streets and over to the Capitol South metro station, where a die-in representing the thousands of victims of SOA graduates and destructive US economic policies was re-enacted. Despite heavy police presence, surveillance and harassment, the die-in attracted the attention of hundreds of Capitol Hill staffers, who were encouraged to take the message to their bosses.

On Tuesday, April 9, SOA Watch activists kept up the pressure, staging another die-in and holding up signs in front of the US Capitol. Activists also unfurled a 50-foot banner along the Connecticut Avenue bridge during the evening rush hour. The banner, which hung over the Park Police training center, read "Close the SOA" and was seen by hundreds of drivers before it was cut down by police 45 minutes later.

Then on Wednesday (the 94th anniversary of the assassination of Mexican Revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata!), after more intense lobbying, thousands of people braved the 90-degree heat to demand comprehensive immigration reform. SOA Watch activists and allies joined the rally with a march through Capitol Hill that refused to stay on the sidewalks, and wove through police lines. The message was loud and clear: "Immigration's not a crime! Stop the Pentagon, now's the time!"

We are grateful to our brothers and sisters struggling for a dignified life for all immigrants, and we will continue to speak out and act out in our just struggle.


US Aids Honduran Police Despite Death Squad Fears PDF Print E-mail

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras March 23, 2013 (AP)

The U.S. State Department, which spends millions of taxpayer dollars a year on the Honduran National Police, has assured Congress that money only goes to specially vetted and trained units that don't operate under the direct supervision of a police chief once accused of extrajudicial killings and "social cleansing."

But The Associated Press has found that all police units are under the control of Director General Juan Carlos Bonilla, nicknamed the "Tiger," who in 2002 was accused of three extrajudicial killings and links to 11 more deaths and disappearances. He was tried on one killing and acquitted. The rest of the cases were never fully investigated.

Honduran law prohibits any police unit from operating outside the command of the director general, according to a top Honduran government security official, who would only speak on condition of anonymity. He said that is true in practice as well as on paper.

A Conversation with the Public Affairs Officer at WHINSEC PDF Print E-mail

A School by Any Other Name - by Craig Wiesner

Originally posted on Reach and Teach

On February 21st, 2013, I had a pleasant and informative conversation with Mr. Lee A. Rials, long-time Public Affairs Officer for WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). The conversation was initiated at Mr. Rial's request, after I had written a Tikkun Daily blog post about the school, which was formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA). For decades the school has been accused of having some responsibility for "graduates" (a term Lee and I will debate later in this post) who were later accused of committing atrocities.

I have spent time with people from Central America who were tortured, who saw their families murdered, and barely escaped death squads during the 1980's and 90's. I've spoken on a panel with one US soldier who was involved in supporting those acts. And I've spent countless hours with religious leaders and other activists who have worked for years to close WHINSEC. I have written about WHINSEC before and my latest post at Tikkun Daily caught Lee Rials' attention.

SOA Watch Activist Sentenced to Six Months in Federal Prison PDF Print E-mail

Watch the video of Nashua and his supporters before they enter the court for the trial: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2013/03/13/2420698/soa-watch-protestor-sentenced.html

Nashua called the main SOA Watch prisoner support person after the trial at home. He said that he is at Lee County (Alabama) Jail. They have assigned him Inmate ID #5340. Nashua said he would probably be there until space opened up in a federal prison. So he could be there a while, just as it was with SOA Watch Prisoner of Conscience Theresa Cusimano, who was at the same jail last year. The SOA Watch prisoner support person is going to work today to get some cash in to his commissary account so that he can buy some clothes and thermal underwear. He said that he has only one very thin blanket and is freezing.

View photos from the trial and pre-trial celebration on NewSouthNetwork's webpage.

Nashua asked that the SOA Watch community be advised where he is. We believe the mailing address to use for Nash is:

Robert Chantal, #5340
Lee County Sheriff's Jail
P.O. Box 2407
Opelika, AL 36804

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 16:55
Colombia: Shots fired at vehicle of SOA Watch Vigil Speaker Father Alberto PDF Print E-mail
Father Alberto Franco

On 13 February 2013, three pellets were fired at the vehicle of Father Alberto Franco, a prominent human rights defender and Executive Secretary of the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz (Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace CIJP).

Father Alberto has been a partner of SOA Watch since 2006, when SOA Watch was invited to join the Ethics Commission of Justicia y Paz. Father Alberto traveled twice to Fort Benning, Georgia to join the November Vigil to close the SOA (click here to view his powerful speech from the stage in November 2010).

The CIJP is a church-based human rights organisation working to expose human rights violations committed by state security forces and paramilitary groups in conflict regions in Colombia.

The attack follows acts of surveillance and intimidation of Father Alberto Franco during recent weeks and coincides with the hearing of the case on “Operation Genesis”, a joint military and paramilitary operation which resulted in the killing and forced disappearance of many civilians; a case for which the CIJP has provided key evidence.

On 13 February 2013, at approximately 7:50 am, the front window of Father Alberto Franco's vehicle was hit with three pellets. It is reported that the attack was an attempt to test the level of protective plating in the armoured vehicle used by Father Alberto Franco, which he received as part of a government protection programme, as directed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 February 2013 17:02
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