Jesuit Priest To End Fast on Martyr's Birthday Print
Cincinnati, OH- On Sunday, March 7, 2004, Fr. Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J., a Catholic Priest and member of the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), begins the fortieth day of his liquids-only fast. He started his fast in Muscogee County Jail, Columbus, Georgia, and will conclude it in Harris County Jail, Hamilton, Georgia, on Friday, March 12, 2004, the 27th anniversary of the murder of Salvadoran Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande.

On January 28, 2004, Fr. Mulligan was sentenced to 90 days in jail for trespassing onto Ft. Benning property last November 23 to demand the closing of the Army?s School of the Americas (now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and a fundamental change of American foreign policy from unilateral aggression to multilateral cooperation. Approximately 10,000 people had participated in the legal demonstration outside the gates of Ft. Benning on November 22 and 23.

During the last week of January 27th, Fr Joe Mulligan and 26 other human rights activists received sentences for trespassing ranging from probation to six months in prison plus fine. In their trials they had asserted that many graduates of SOA/WHINSEC returned to their Latin American countries to become assassins, torturers, and even dictators.

As he approached the start of his fortieth day on the fast, Mulligan reported: ?I have probably lost about twenty pounds but am feeling OK. For those who want to express their solidarity, I would suggest that they urge their Members of Congress to vote for the closing of SOA/WHINSEC and to demand an end to the occupation of Iraq. I am very grateful to the many people in the U.S. and Latin America who have expressed their solidarity by prayer, fasting, and action. For example, every Friday people have been demonstrating in front the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua in solidarity with us in jail, demanding the closing of SOA/ WHINSEC, the withdrawal of U.S. and Latin American troops from Iraq, and fundamental change of American foreign policy.

?I plan to start eating on Friday, March 12, 2004, the 27th anniversary of the martyrdom of Father Rutilio Grande, a Salvadoran Jesuit who was assassinated along with two other persons who were riding with him in his vehicle. Father Grande was a dedicated rural pastor who lived out the Church?s option for the poor by ministering to poor farmers and supporting their right to organize for justice.

?Let us continue to struggle in the spirit of Father Grand and of Archbishop Oscar Romero.?

Specifically he asks people to participate massively in the March 20 demonstrations against the occupation of Iraq, and in the March 27-30 ?Spring Mobilization and Lobby Day? sponsored by the School of the Americas Watch.?