Volunteer needs - Prisoner update - Fall tours - Resources Print
SOA Watch Update
October 15, 2004

1. Help make this November a success!
2. Prisoner update
3. Fall tours coming to your town
4. Celebrating the life of Fr Paul O?Brien
5. New weapons for Latin America
6. Resources



1. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE THIS NOVEMBER!

CREATE A MEMORIAL FOR THIS YEAR?S FUNERAL PROCESSION

During the Funeral Procession on Sunday, November 21st, 2004, there will be an opportunity for broader participation in the creation of memorials enacting some of the consequences of the training at the School of the Americas. Volunteers will choose several themes ? from the massacre at Acteal to an example of the domestic effects of bloated military spending - that illustrate the consequences of the training that occurs at the SOA/WHINSEC. Participate in the funeral procession in this new and exciting way! Contact Josh at the SOA Watch office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at 202-234-3440.

VOLUNTEER AT THE VIGIL!

The SOA Watch Vigil is run by several hundred volunteers just like you! There are so many ways that you can plug in to help make this year?s convergence our most powerful yet.

We are looking for individuals to:

  • serve as Peacemakers (Click here for details and requirements);

  • work a two-hour shift at a SOA Watch book and video resources table;

  • staff the Anti-Oppression table (requires particular interest in or experience
    doing work around oppression and accessibility);

  • do American Sign Language and Spanish interpretation;

  • join our Logistics group to do stage construction and other physical work (requires basic construction skills);

  • set up or put away trash barrels and heavy tables;

  • usher at the Saturday evening benefit concert;

  • volunteer in the media office;

  • be part of the Spanish language media and outreach team ( Click here for more info);

  • do random errands on the Tuesday through Thursday before the Vigil;

  • work with the Puppetistas (see their wishlist here: http://puppetista.org/wishlist.html);

  • do clean up and mail assembly on the Monday and Tuesday after the Vigil.


We are looking for small groups to:

  • work a two-hour shift collecting names and addresses for our mailing list;

  • work a two-hour shift collecting donations at the entrance to the Vigil area.


We are looking for entire bus groups to:

  • circulate once to collect donations when announced from the stage. (Signs, bags, and a brief training will be provided.)


Please contact John Stith at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 202-234-3440 to talk about what you or your group would like to do. We?re all working together to close down the SOA/ WHINSEC, and your help is needed!

SOA WATCH RIDE BOARD

Did you know that a helpful resource is available to you on the SOA Watch website? Click here to visit our ride board

Here you can look for people traveling to Georgia from your region, offer a ride to others or find folks with whom you can organize a bus, van or carpool. Help spread the word about this great tool!

A church in North Carolina has offered housing to activists traveling down to Georgia in November. Click here for more info

Download flyers, see a schedule of events, learn organizing tips and MORE



2. PRISONER UPDATE

A big WELCOME OUT to seven SOA Watchers recently released from federal prisons around the country! Craig Adams and Shirley Way completed their three-month prison sentences in late September and were released from FCI Duluth and FCI Danbury, respectively. In early October, Don Beisswenger (FCI Manchester), Cynthia Brinkman (FCI Pekin), David Corcoran (FCI Oxford), Betsy Lamb (FCI Danbury) and Rich Wekerle (FCI Sheridan) were released after completing their six-month sentences.

The only person arrested during last November?s nonviolent direct action at Fort Benning who is still in prison is Fr. Jerry Zawada. Jerry was sentenced to six months incarceration for that action. He is spending an extra month, however, at FCI Oxford for a trespassing conviction from a nonviolent direct action at the US military's Project ELF missile-command tower in northern Wisconsin. He is due out in early November.

We have heard from many of these courageous peacemakers that they will be joining us this November at the gates of Fort Benning! Visit the SOA Watch newsroom at www.soaw.orgsroom for updated coverage of these former prisoners.



3. FALL TOURS COMING TO YOUR TOWN!

BUS TOUR: TORTURE, IMPUNITY AND THE SOA/WHINSEC
Carlos Mauricio, who along with two other torture survivors successfully sued two Salvadoran generals for torture and human rights abuses, is organizing a bus and speaking tour. Beginning in San Francisco in early November, the tour will travel throughout the southwest and southern US before ending at the Ft. Benning rally. For more information visit http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=893.

THE MEXICO SOLIDARITY NETWORK ? SOA WATCH FALL SOUTHEAST TOUR
This tour, traveling through the southeast US in November, features grassroots speakers from Mexico and the US and focuses on militarization, globalization, the SOA/WHINSEC and resistance movements. For more information visit http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=775.

EAST COAST PUPPETISTA TOUR: ?THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE?
The Puppetista Tour will offer a provocative new circus performance, touring the east coast from November 10-15. For more info check out http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=862.

GLOBALIZE LIBERATION ? SOA WATCH ROADSHOW
This exciting roadshow will travel down the east coast as it makes its way to Ft. Benning. Organized by David Solnit, SOA Watch activist and editor of the new book Globalize Liberation, this tour will feature popular education performances, discussion and strategic organizing workshops. For more info check out http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=878.



4. IN CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF FR. J. PAUL O?BRIEN, SJ

Our community lost one of its most valued members September 12th when Fr. Paul O'Brien died of a sudden heart attack at Brebeuf Jesuit High School where he lived and worked.

OBie spent over 25 years struggling for peace and justice through his work with students and with the poor in Latin America. His travels in nearly every Latin American country brought him in contact with people of diverse social and economic backgrounds, giving him a body of knowledge he never hesitated to share with others. The SOA was an issue with deep personal significance for OBie because of his many friends in Latin America, including five of the six Jesuits and their two housekeepers, murdered in Central America by SOA graduates.

Despite appearances, OBie was quite a risk-taker. He was a radical organizer for peace, standing up for God's justice regardless of the will of the established authorities or cost to himself. He taught thousands of students about the SOA and was in the process of organizing his second high school group to go to the vigil this November. OBie has been instrumental in organizing the Indiana SOAW group and hosted the Great Lakes regional conference this summer at Brebeuf Jesuit.

He will be remembered for his unwavering dedication to closing the SOA/WHINSEC, his love for young people, his kind heart, and his peaceful presence.

-Charity Ryerson and Jeremy John, Indiana SOAW



5. NEW WEAPONS for LATIN AMERICA

Production of the most deadly type of weapon in the world will begin in Columbus, Georgia, this winter. Small arms, such as the AK-47 and M-16 rifles, are used to kill half a million people each year. The majority of these deaths are in armed conflicts.

A leading small-arms developer and manufacturer, the German-based Heckler & Koch Corporation, is currently constructing a plant in Columbus to produce the lightweight XM8 assault rifle. Heckler & Koch chose its Columbus location to be close to Fort Benning, where the U.S. Army tests new rifles. The XM8s to be manufactured in Columbus are intended for sale to the U.S. military and are also expected to be exported to U.S. allies, including Colombia.

Older generations of small arms are typically re-sold to militaries in low-income countries, such as Heckler & Koch's G3, which has been used by the militaries of Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guyana, Haiti, Paraguay, and Peru. Heckler & Koch has also sold its design to the Mexican government, which has manufactured its own G3 rifles. The introduction of the XM8 will increase the number of lightweight weapons available for child soldiers around the world.

Training at the SOA/WHINSEC includes demonstrations of new military technology. Fort Benning's roles in testing new rifles and training Latin American military elites can only accelerate the transfer of more and more lethal weapons to Latin America.

For more information, consult the Arms Transfer Working Group, at http://www.fas.org/asmp/atwg; or the Armaments Information Office, an organization based in Freiburg, Germany that monitors Heckler & Koch's activities, at http://www.rib-ev.de.



6. NEW AND EXCITING RESOURCES!

** New book: SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS: MILITARY TRAINING AND POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN THE AMERICAS by Lesley Gill.

Based on her unprecedented level of access to the School of the Americas, Lesley Gill, professor of anthropology at American University, describes the SOA's mission and training methods and reveals how its students, alumni, and officers perceive themselves in relation to the dirty wars that have raged across Latin America. Assessing the School's role in U.S. empire-building, she shows how Latin America's brightest and most ambitious military officers are indoctrinated into a stark good-versus-evil worldview, seduced by consumer society and the ?American dream,? and enlisted as proxies in Washington's war against drugs and ?subversion.? July 2004, 296 pages, $20.

** New book: DISTURBING THE PEACE: FATHER ROY BOURGEOIS AND THE MOVEMENT TO CLOSE THE SOA by James Hodge and Linda Cooper

This book tells the inspiring journey of a prophetic priest and the campaign to close the Army school responsible for training dictators and death squad leaders. September 2004, 240 pages, $20.

** New book: CONSCIENCE & CONSEQUENCE by Clare Hanrahan

This new publication is the lucid, intensely moving, and highly personal account of Clare Hanrahan's six-month incarceration inside Alderson, the oldest and largest U.S. Federal prison for women. This perceptive book chronicles the nonviolent resistance that resulted in the author's imprisonment, and exposes some of devastating abuses of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Hanrahan was convicted in 2001 for persistent peaceful protest against the SOA/WHINSEC at Fort Benning, Georgia. $18.

TO ORDER, send a check made out to ?SOA Watch? for the amount of the book plus shipping and handling costs: add $3 for the first item, $2 more for the second item and $1 more for each additional item. Mail your check to: SOA Watch, PO Box 4566, Washington, DC 20017. You can also contact the SOA Watch office at 202-234-3440 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to place your order.