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Home News Organizing Updates Feb Lobby Day - Human Rights Award - WHINSEC PR - Legislative update
Feb Lobby Day - Human Rights Award - WHINSEC PR - Legislative update PDF Print E-mail
SOA Watch Update
December 16, 2004

1. February Legislative Trainings and Lobby Day ? Come to DC!
2. SOA Watch wins prestigious human rights award
3. The SOA/ WHINSEC PR machine
4. Legislative update


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1. LEGISLATIVE TRAININGS AND LOBBY DAY ? FEBRUARY 21-22 IN WASHINGTON, DC

Make plans now to travel to DC this February for two days of trainings, lobbying and direct action in the nation?s capitol. This is an important
time in the campaign to close the SOA/ WHINSEC, as we will be introducing legislation in the 109th Congress. Planning and preparing for the February
lobby day can be a great way to reconnect with others in your community who traveled to the vigil with you or who helped to organize a solidarity
action. Together, we?ll tell Congress to close the SOA/ WHINSEC!

Email info at soaw.org for an organizing packet that includes information on getting to DC, where to stay when you?re here and resources to take action.(A $3 donation to cover printing and postage costs would be appreciated.) We
also have 4x6 palm cards advertising this event you can use locally: 20 for $1.

Please see below for the legislative update, and continue to check the SOA Watch website for details at www.SOAW.org. See you in February!

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2. SOA WATCH WINS PRESTIGIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD

On Tuesday, December 14, SOA Watch was honored to receive the esteemed Alfonso Com?n Foundation Award in Barcelona, Spain. The Alfonso Com?n
Foundation, a private foundation that works to serve those who are struggling to build a more just world, grants the annual human rights award.
SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois accepted the award -- presented by Mayor Joan Clos and the City Council of Barcelona -- on behalf of the SOA
Watch movement.

Past recipients include Nelson Mandela, Vandana Shiva, and Brazil?s Movement of Unemployed Workers (MST). In 1989, the award was given to San Salvador?s University of Central America and its rector, Ignacio Ellacur?a. Two weeks after receiving the award, Ellacur?a was assassinated along with five other Jesuits, their co-worker and her 14-year-old daughter. Nineteen of the 26
soldiers found responsible for the murders by a United Nations Truth Commission were trained at the US Army?s School of the Americas (SOA).

Each year the Alfonso Com?n Foundation recognizes individuals, groups of people or collective organizations that have distinguished themselves in their work for justice, peace and human rights. SOA Watch was recognized for its work to close the SOA/ WHINSEC and its struggle for substantial change in US foreign policy.

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3. THE TRUTH CANNOT BE SILENCED: THE SOA/ WHINSEC PUBLIC RELATIONS MACHINE

** After receiving countless inquiries from activists and organizational partners in reference to public relations activities by supporters of the SOA/WHINSEC, SOA Watch is releasing the following:

Since the early 1990s, the Army and the Pentagon have spent untold amounts of taxpayer money protecting the SOA and now WHINSEC. This undisclosed sum is spent on direct lobbying, media courting, and intimidation of challengers
of the institution. Examples of their tactics include:

-- Calling colleges and universities where SOA Watch presentations will be given to pressure event planners into including a WHINSEC representative. While SOA Watch is not opposed to debate, we believe that event organizers
should be free to make the decision of who to welcome to their constituency without intimidation.

-- Sending attacking letters to organizations who support efforts to close the SOA/ WHINSEC. Allies like the United Auto Workers (UAW), Pax Christi
USA, and the Blue Triangle Network have recently received accusatory letters that seek to confuse and harass organizations that have carefully researched the issue and reached their own policy decisions.

-- Publicly spreading misinformation regarding allied partners' positions. Since the publication of Amnesty International USA's 2002 report, ?Unmatched Power, Unmet Principles,? Pentagon and Army officials have repeatedly misconstrued the report?s findings. The following section has been used by the Army and the Pentagon to claim that Amnesty International supports WHINSEC: "Currently, for the great majority of foreign military trainees, no such [human rights] instruction is required. WHINSEC-SOA's core human rights program and the Investigative Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance
Program's (ICITAP) partnership with John Jay College could serve as models for some 275 US institutions providing training to foreign military and law enforcement officers."

In truth however, the findings clearly state, "...changes to the institution and its curriculum do not absolve the US government of responsibility for identifying and prosecuting those responsible for human rights violations perpetrated by the School of the Americas, including past and current US personnel responsible for having drafted, approved, or taught with manuals that advocate illegal tactics such as torture. The US Government should take immediate steps to establish an independent commission to investigate the
past activities of the SOA and its graduates, particularly the use of these manuals in SOA training and the impact of such training. Pending the publication of the findings of the independent commission of inquiry, training at the WHINSEC-SOA should be suspended.?

Despite direct requests from AIUSA to "set the record straight," supporters of WHINSEC continue to mislead the public, Members of Congress, and the media. To read the complete summary of the findings of Unmatched Power, Unmet Principles, visit:
http://www.amnestyusa.org/arms_trade/ustraining/military_101.html

The truth is on our side. The SOA/WHINSEC is a symbol of some of the worst of US foreign policy, and there has been no accountability for its illegal activities. Until training stops and a full investigation is conducted, the SOA/WHINSEC will continue to be a stain on the United States government, and the people of Latin America will be paying the price with their lives.

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4. LEGISLATIVE UPDATE ? THE FUTURE IS NOW!

The 108th Congress is now over and SOA Watch activists and allies secured 130 bi-partisan co-sponsors for HR 1258, the bill to close and investigate the SOA/WHINSEC. Visit http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=96 for the
current list. Because of your work we continue to gain momentum in the effort to see real accountability for the illegal activities of the SOA and a true evaluation of its newest incarnation, WHINSEC.

Though the 109th Congress doesn't officially start until January 4, it really is time to start lobbying for the future. We will have a vote next
year and so we need all the support in Congress we can muster. Included is a document with all of the members of the House, with their voting record.

~~ If your Rep was a co-sponsor, thank them and begin to secure a commitment to co-sponsor legislation in the 109th.
~~ If your Rep did not sign on, or if you have a new one, please call, send a letter, and/or visit them to discuss the reasons why this legislation is important and why you want to see them support it. Organize others to go with you.
~~ If you do get a promise of co-sponsorship or a vote please let the SOA Watch office know (202-234-3440.) If your Rep is on board, start working on your Senator?-they can sponsor a companion bill.

If you don't know who your Rep is, visit
http://www.soaw.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=96 and enter your zip code in the box at the top of the screen. This site will also lead you to all the resources you need to be an effective constituent lobbyist.

** Plan to come to Washington, DC February 21-22 for the 2005 Lobby Day and Action on Capitol Hill. This is a very important event, as we will be
introducing new legislation and want to come out quickly and powerfully in the 109th Congress. Email info at soaw.org for an organizing packet that includes info on getting to DC, where to stay and resources to take action. We also have 4x6 palm cards advertising this event you can use locally: 20 for $1.

A NOTE ON THE PETITION CIRCULATED AT THE VIGIL IN COLUMBUS, GA

We have received a few notes from activists confused about what to do with the blank petition we circulated during the vigil. Sorry for the lack of clarity. The petition is an easy action that we decided to make available during this time between Congressional sessions. It is a great tool to help
new SOA Watch activists educate others on the issue and galvanize pressure on their Member of Congress. The petition is offered as one of the ways that you can help influence your Member of Congress. Use it if it helps you; don?t if you feel your time is better spent in other ways. The point is to be creative and TAKE ACTION!!

Instructions:
~~ Once you have filled a page, please make a copy and send one to the SOA Watch office?Attn: Legislative Coordinator, PO Box 4566, Washington, DC, 20017.
~~ Take your copies to your meeting with your Congressperson?s district office. Tell them that the signatures represent a portion of their
constituents who join you in calling for the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC.
~~ If you are using it to educate new people, hand out basic informational flyers that talk more about the issue, and tell people how to take future action. Include contact info for your local group. Visit the ?Resources? section of the SOA Watch website for sample materials.
~~ SOA Watch will deliver copies to the Washington offices during the Spring Lobby Day.
~~ If you do not have a copy of this petition and want to use it, please email info at soaw.org.
~~ If you have more questions, please contact the SOA Watch DC office.
 

Contact us

SOA Watch
733 Euclid Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

phone: 202-234-3440
email: info@soaw.org