July 8 Trial Date Set for 43 Human Rights Activists for Civil Disobedience at School of the Americas Print
for immediate release
May 29, 2002


Contact: Matthew Smucker
202.903.7257


Columbus, GA - Last week Federal Magistrate Faircloth announced a July 8 court date for 43 human rights activists charged with trespass for civil disobedience at the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) in Columbus, Georgia. The 43 were among 10,000 people who gathered last November to call for the closure of the notorious school. The defendants peacefully crossed onto Ft. Benning, site of the school. They face up to six months in federal prison and $5,000 in fines.

Judge Faircloth is known for giving the maximum of six months to opponents of the SOA/WHISC. Seventy-one people have served a total of over forty years in prison for engaging in nonviolent resistance in a broad-based campaign to close the school. Last year 26 people were prosecuted, including Dorothy Hennessey, an 88 year-old Franciscan nun who was sentenced to six months in federal prison.

?Those who speak out for justice are facing harsh prison sentences while SOA-trained torturers and assassins are operating with impunity,? said SOA Watch founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois.

The SOA/WHISC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are consistently involved in human rights abuses and atrocities. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution.

?The SOA is the terrorist training camp in our own backyard,? said Bourgeois.

SOA Watch works to stand in solidarity with people of Latin America, to change oppressive US foreign policy, and to close the SOA/WHISC.

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