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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.

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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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SOA Watch vs. the Pentagon PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hendrik Voss   
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 17:07
SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS WATCH SAN FRANCISCO

For Immediate Release
....
Contact: Michael Bass
SOA Watch San Francisco
510.654.5355 or 510.432.2555
michaelbass84 [ at ] gmail.com

School of the Americas Watch vs. U.S. Department of Defense
Human rights activists petition court to have DOD release names of students of infamous U.S. military training school

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
9:00 AM Court Session with Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton
U.S. Courthouse, Courtroom 3, 1301 Clay Street (at 14th St.)
Oakland, California

The attorneys and plaintiffs will be available for interviews following the hearing.
....

San Francisco residents and School of the Americas Watch activists, Judith Liteky and Theresa Cameranesi, will appear in U.S. Federal Court on February 13 on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to compel the U.S. Department of Defense to disclose the names and military units of foreign students and instructors attending the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, a U.S. military training school located at Fort Benning, Georgia, at U.S. taxpayer expense.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 17:09
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The 15th Battalion of Honduras PDF Print E-mail

The following report was compiled using information from the forthcoming Rights Action report on the 15th Battalion by Annie Bird. For Right's Actions Executive Summary and full report, see below.

The Honduran Army's 15th Infantry Battalion has been widely accused of leading operations that have resulted in human rights abuses, which include the notorious attack against campesino protestors in a land dispute in August 2010 that resulted in the murder of a seventeen year-old boy, as well as the death of five security guards.  Raynel Funes Ponce, who graduated from the Basic Infantry Officials program at the SOA in 1984, was said to be commander of the 15th Battalion in a 2011 newspaper article.  In 2012 it was revealed on the Honduras armed forces website that Ponce had assumed command of the Special Forces 1st Battalion.  A squad representing the 1st Battalion, led by Josue Sierra, who took a Cadet Arms orientation at the SOA in 2011, murdered 15 year-old Ebed Yanes with a bullet in the back of his head.  Sierra was the first to fire of the squad.  Funes Ponce ordered a cover-up of the murder.

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