Urge the U.S. House of Representatives to address Human Rights and Rule of Law in Honduras
Tuesday, 06 May 2014 22:16
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!
Contact the Foreign Policy Staffer in Washington DC Office of Your U.S. Rep in Congress!
We need your help! On Monday, April 28, 2014, Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) began circulating a sign-on "Dear Colleague" letter in the U.S. House of Representatives to Secretary of State John Kerry addressing Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras. Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Farr and Hank Johnson (D-GA) have joined as initial co-signers. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has also now joined as a co-signer. Below is a copy of the letter.
The letter states that "egregious violations of human rights continue" almost 5 years after the coup. It raises concerns about militarization of the police, and the failure to investigate or prosecute human rights abuses, including in the Aguan Valley. The letter also raises concerns about freedom of speech and associations, and questions whether the November 2013 election was not free and fair.
The letter asks State Department to:
- Pay close attention to these issues and strictly evaluate U.S. support for Honduran security forces, in accordance with conditions placed on the aid in the 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act.
- Fully enforce the Leahy Law, which prohibits U.S. assistance to any individual or unit that has committed gross human rights abuses and is not being brought to justice.
The deadline to sign on is Friday, May 9, 2014 at 5:00 PM eastern time.
We need your help in securing the signature of your Member of the U.S. House of Representatives on this letter. Only members of the House can sign the letter.
To sign on to the letter (or if the staffer wishes an official copy of the letter), your Rep’s staffer must contactAndrew Goczkowski Andrew.Goczkowski@mail.house.gov in Schakowsky's office. (NOTE: please do not contact Schakowsky's staff yourself, but ask the staffer to do so).
Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, give them the name of your Rep, then ask to be connected:
(If you do not know the name of your Rep, please go to http://www.house.gov/ and enter in your zip code at the upper right).
When you call, ask to speak with the aide who handles Foreign Policy. Use the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide does not recall seeing the letter, ask for the aide’s email address so that you can forward a copy of the letter.
If the foreign policy aide is not is not available, ask to leave a message on his or her voice mail. Be sure to getthe name foreign policy staffer so you can follow up.
Script: “My name is _____. I am a constituent from (town / city) in (your state). I am calling to ask Senator _____ to sign the Jan Schakowsky letter on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras. Has Representative___ seen this letter? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me this week at (_your phone number_) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Representative _____ will sign it.”
In your phone conversation, you might highlight why this letter is important to you, especially if you have travelled to Honduras or heard a Honduran speak in your community.
In an email, you can just ask them to sign the letter, and then if you like send some information.
Here are two useful general articles, and the recent statement from Reps. McGovern, Schakowsky, and Farr.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 May 2014 22:32
Georgia Peace and Justice Walk
April 26 - May 3: The Right to Peace Walk UPDATES!!!
SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois; Field Organizer Maria Luisa Rosal; our newest Council member Kevin Moran; and long-time SOA Watch activist Irene Rojas DeCambias are currently walking 120 miles from Fort Benning, Georgia to Atlanta, Georgia, to call attention to the SOA, drone warfare, and the persecution of immigrants. Follow their walk on twitter, read daily updates on facebook and on SOAW.org, or even better: Join them (see their schedule below).
Since beginning the walk on Saturday April 26, the Peace Walkers have been making great strides towards standing up for peace and justice! At the gates of Ft. Benning, they commemorated Bishop Gerardi on the 16th anniversary of his brutal murder at the hands of SOA grad Col. Byron Lima Estrada. Gerardi spearheaded an ad-hoc truth commission report that systematized for the first time ever the mass human rights violations that occured during the 36-year internal armed conflict and began the process of accompaniment and social reconstruction of many indigenous communities who had survived the massacres that occured during the "scorched earth" campaigns of the early 1980's.
By day 2 the Peace Walkers made it to Lumpkin, Georgia, where Stewart Detention Center - the largest, privately owned, for-profit, immigrant prison in the United States - is located. Together, with immigrant rights activist and local community organizer Anton Flores, the Peace Walkers held a vigil outside the gates of Stewart to make the connections between the roots causes of migration and the criminalization and shameful discrimination of migrant in the US, part of a broader system of the US policy of militarism. They were also able to talk to families that made the long journey to Stewart to visit their loved ones and to hear their stories. The day ended with a visit to the community at Alterna in LaGrange, Georgia. The Peace Walkers continued on their walk to Atlanta with a renewed sense of committment and solidarity.
The 120 mile "Right to Peace” walk will culminate with a rally at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta. The rally will draw attention to the connection concerning the research and development of the next generation of autonomous killer drones by Georgia Tech; their partnership with the Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning, where Georgia Tech conducts drone flight testing, and the training of Latin America's police, and military forces at Ft. Bennings School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) in the use of the tools and tactics of oppression.
The movement to close the SOA has been tremendously successful in educating broad sectors about the reality of U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America. While SOA Watch started out with a narrow focus of ending the training of repressive Latin American military forces and the closure of the SOA, the scope of our work has broadened over the years.
The SOA and the use of killer drones are both part of a broader system of militarism. The institute and the remote control killing are not aberrations of U.S. foreign policy, but clear examples of it.
If you are interested in participating in the march, or for more information, please email Kevin at
Goals of the walk – The Right to Peace
Raise public awareness to inspire specific calls to action by attracting mass media exposure to:
Call for an immediate moratorium on the research and development of autonomous drones by Georgia Tech as recommended by the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions, Christof Heyns.
Call for an immediate closure of the SOA, a U.S. military training school for Latin American security personnel located at Ft. Benning, GA, by demanding congressional support of passage of H.R. 2989 the Latin American Military Training Review Act – the bill to suspend and investigate the School of the Americas.
The Right to Peace Walk Schedule & Outline
Saturday, April 26: Mass Rally at Noon at the Gate to Ft. Benning, Featured Speaker: Father Roy Bourgeois, Walk begins 1 PM to Flatrock Park, Columbus, Georgia
Sunday, April 27: Alterna Community Forum, LaGrange, Georgia. Walk begins at EL Refugio, Lumpkin to Stewart Detention Center
Monday, April 28: Walk begins at LaGrange to Hogansville
Tuesday, April 29: Walk begins at Hogansville to Newnan
Wednesday, April 30: Walk begins at Newnan to Peachtree City
Thursday, May 1: Walk begins at Peachtree City to Jonesboro
Friday, May 2: Walk begins at King Center, Atlanta to Federal Prison, Georgia State University, Georgia State Capitol Press Conference, Atlanta City Detention Center, ICE Building Immigration Court, Federal Prison
Saturday, May 3: Walk begins at Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Center, Atlanta to GA Tech 2:00–3:30 Mass Rally with feature speakers: Father Roy Bourgeois, Medea Benjamin, renowned activist from CodePink, as well as Azadeh Shahshahani, President, National Lawyers Guild; National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project Director, ACLU of Georgia.
More information about the walk will be posted at http://GeorgiaPeace.org
2014 Spring Days of Action
Schedule of Events
1) Sunday, March 30.
3) Monday, March 31. SOA Watch staff and activists with decades of grassroots lobbying experience will lead a Lobby/Advocacy Training from 9:30am - 12pm on HR 2989, opposition to proposed sanctions againgst Venezuela, and Not1+ Deportations. There will also be a workshop from 1:30 - 4pm on Direct Action with emphasis on local, grassroots, and youth organizing. (9:30 AM - 4:00 PM @ The United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002).
4) Monday, March 31. Join School of the Americas Watch, ally organizations, musicians (Lilo Gonzalez & Son Cosita Seria), artists, and other supporters in Downtown Takoma Park as we take the streets in a public demonstration aimed at outreach to the local community and messaging directed at two important political players with ties to Takoma Park, W.H. Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen. Learn more about HR 2989, the bipartisan bill in congress that seeks to suspend and invstigate the SOA/WHINSEC, and what you can do to help close the School of Assassins. Take a stand for peace, mutual respect, and accountability in both Latin America and the U.S.!
(6:15 PM - 8 PM @ downtown Takoma Park - Laurel Ave. & Carroll Ave).
5) Tuesday, April 1. SOA Watch activists and staff will meet with their Members of Congress to urge them to cosponsor HR 2989, and support other positive policies toward Latin America. For more information on lobbying, contact Arturo by phone (202-234-3440) or email (
A National Call-In Day will allow the voices of activists from around the country to be amplified by concentrating our strength on one day and blitzing the Capitol phone lines.
6) Thursday, April 3. In coordination with the University of Maryland's Latin American Studies Center and UMD-based student group Voices: Arts for Social Change, a night dedicated to Chile's folk music hero Victor Jara will be held on campus in College Park, MD from 5:30-8:30. SOA Watch Advocacy Coordinator Arturo J. Viscarra, Prof. Karín Rosemblatt, PhD doctoral candidate Brandi Townsend, and Coral Cantigas Conductor Diana Saez will discuss the role of nueva canción in Chilean social movement and the campaign to extradite Jara's alleged killer, Pedro Barrientos, from Florida to Chile to stand trial. Music will be performed, dialogue lively, and refreshments delicious.
Room 0200 Skinner Hall at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD. For public transportation, take the Metro Green Line to the College Park stop. Then take the red UMD shuttle bus to campus (get off at the final stop opposite the Stamp Student Union). Click here for detailed map of UMD campus. Free parking in Lots Z and Mowatt Lane Garage is circled in red. Skinner Hall is circled in blue.
7) Saturday, April 5. SOA Watch has been working to connect the dots between militarization and immigration, and we encourage our supporters to join us and allied organizations for the April 5th National Day of Action Against Deportations. We will raise our voices in unison to say #Not1More and #2Million2Many to President Obama and the Congress in DC or in actions across the U.S. organized by NDLON and other organizations. More information can be found here. (Meeting at Lamont Park, Lamont Street NW & Mt. Pleasant St. NW at 11 AM, March to White House, where march will arrive around 1 PM for rally at President's Park).
CHECK OUT THE SPRING DAYS OF ACTION ORGANIZING PACKET!
1. Let your friends, community and networks know about the March 30 - April 3 Spring Days of Action. We are encouraging SOA Watch activists to start planning your trip today to Washington, and to set up meetings with your members of Congress today. The emphasis is on the House, but you should also set up a meeting with your Senators!
2. Show a screening of the SOA Watch DVD "Somos Una América" in your community, and invite SOA Watch speakers to your events! Order our bilingual, informational broadsheet about the SOA/WHINSEC to educate your community!
3. Contact your Congressional representative. Ask them to set up a meeting (click here to learn how) with you on Tuesday April 1 (or surrounding days).
4. Make a donation to help make Spring in DC a real celebration of life, hope and resistance!
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 June 2014 20:05
Pete Seeger at the gates of Fort Benning during the November Vigil to close the School of the Americas:
Photos by Tom Bottolene