Sample Local News Release for Defendants Going to Trial Starting February 10 Print
The following release should be tailored from a local angle. It should be cut to fit onto one page. Please ask your local newspaper to request the AP or Reuters coverage if they are unable to send a reporter to cover the trial with you. Also ask your local TV stations to contact their affiliates in Columbus for coverage.


for immediate release
Local Contact: [Name and Phone Number]
SOA Watch Contact: Matthew Smucker, 706.221.1672, 202.903.7257

[Your Town] Resident(s) Among Human Rights Advocates Facing Federal Trial for Civil Disobedience at School of the Americas

Defendants Aim to Expose Double Standard in War on Terrorism,Put SOA and US Foreign Policy on Trial

Interviews Available
[if applicable]

[Your town] resident [Defendant?s name] is among 35 human rights advocates going to federal court [Monday OR today], February 10 for civil disobedience at the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) in Columbus, Georgia.

The defendants were among 10,000 who gathered in November to call for the closure of the SOA/WHISC, a controversial combat training school for Latin American soldiers. They were part of a group of 96 who peacefully crossed onto Ft. Benning, site of the school. The 35 are the last of this group to be adjudicated. Forty-two defendants were tried and convicted of trespass January 27-29. Sentences ranged from twelve months probation to six months in federal prison with fines.

[Paragraph about local defendant/s and local group]

[Defendant's name] and [her/his/their] co-defendants plan to testify in court against a double standard in the ?war on terrorism?, and to put the SOA/WHISC and U.S. foreign policy on trial. The trial judge, G. Mallon Faircloth, is known for giving the maximum of six months to opponents of the SOA/WHISC.

?Those who speak out for justice are facing prison time while SOA-trained torturers and assassins are operating with impunity,? said [defendant or local organizer/clergy/politician].

The SOA/WHISC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. Its graduates are consistently involved in human rights atrocities and coups, including the El Mozote Massacre and last year's failed coup in Venezuela. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution.

In a new report Amnesty International calls for a suspension of training at the SOA/WHISC, and an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the school. Amnesty refutes the claim that the WHISC is a new institution, stating that WHISC "is essentially the same school as SOA, with the same primary mission??

?This school is the terrorist training camp in our own backyard,? said [defendant or local organizer/clergy/politician].

SOA Watch works to stand in solidarity with people of Latin America, to change oppressive US foreign policy, and to close the SOA/WHISC. [or your group?s mission sentence]

[School of the Americas Watch, or your group?s name]
[www.soaw.orgsroom, or your group?s website]

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