“It is truer today, than ever before, that although they jail the resisters, they have not, and cannot, jail the resistance.” ~ Father Roy Bourgeois,
Four targeted journalists were among twenty-six people arrested today as thousands of human rights defenders converged at Fort Benning gates for the 20th Anniversary of the November Vigil to Close the School of the Americas, the U.S. military training school dedicated to teaching new terrorists to commit war crimes: torture, disappearing and assassinating.
SOA trains participants to commit war crimes that human rights defenders oppose as a patriotic, moral duty.
The school is known by critics as the School of the Assassins, as Russia Today reported Saturday. (See Youtube (below): Inside the dark legacy of the US School of the Assassins, Russia Today, Nov. 20, 2010)
Nonviolent civil disobedience action at Fort Benning gates was followed later Saturday by indiscriminate arrests and targeting of journalists for filming the police misconduct according to SOA Watch’s Hendrik Voss.
Columbus Police arrested the journalists, including the TV news crew from Russia Today America, and unrelated bystanders.
When the rally participants tried leaving the vigil area, police blocked off all exit points.The police blockade was at the corner of Torch Hill Road and Ft. Bennning Road.
“After a few minutes, the police allowed people to leave on the sidewalk, only to follow them, indiscriminately arresting people who had neither committed any crimes nor engaged in civil disobedience,” stated Voss.
Human rights activists, torture survivors, veterans, faith-based communities, union workers, students, musicians and others from across the Americas are at the U.S. military base Fort Benning gates to call for the closure of the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).
Following the SOA Watch rally, human rights activists brought their nonviolent witness to close the SOA into the street leading onto the military base.
The activists briefly shut down the road with a large sign that said, “Stop: This is the End of the Road for the SOA.”
Their action is part of a longstanding tradition of creative civil disobedience to call attention to atrocities committed by School of the Americas graduates.
The 90-year old Jesuit priest Bill Brennan, and ordained Catholic priest Janice Sevre-Duszynska were among those charged.
Two human rights defenders who crossed onto Fort Benning through the highway entrance have been charged with federal trespass and face up to six months in federal prison and a fine up to $5,000.
All arrestees are presently being held in the Muscogee County Jail for up to a $5,500 bond.
Amidst a heightened police presence around the Ft. Benning gates Saturday, the thousands heeded the call of “We are One America!” and manifested their opposition to the School of the Americas and oppressive U.S. foreign policy.
SOA Watch in a prepared statement said today:
“We are committed to putting ourselves in the way of the war machine until the School is closed and a formal truth commission investigates the impact of its violence on the countries of Latin America that have suffered under the 11 military dictators who have graduated from the school.”
SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots organization that works for the closing the School of the Americas and a change in U.S. foreign policy –
SOA/WHINSEC military training facility made 1996 headlines when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution.
SOA/WHINSEC trainees and graduates have been responsible for Latin American coups such including the present Honduras coup, plus torturing, raping, assassinating, disappearing, massacring families and villages of poor people. The training is transferable. Every graduate can train other persons to conduct the terrorist atrocities.
Martha Giraldo, a Colombian human rights activist and featured speaker at the 2009 November vigil to close the SOA (video), was subjected to the type of chilling death threat that innocent targeted individuals globally, including in the U.S., regularly receive for defending human rights, exposing crime including conspiracy facts, or being put the “terrorist” hit list as revenge.
Two SUVs with tinted windows, the vehicle of choice of Colombian assassins, tried to run Giraldo’s car off of the road in Cali, Colombia. This is a common intimidation tactic used to suppress American targeted individuals or to murder them in an “accident.”
On January 25, 2010, U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth sentenced the human rights advocates called the SOA4 arrested at the 2009 annual vigil to maximum federal prison for six months for direct action opposing the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC).
Internationally known as the Prophetic Priest, Father Roy Bourgeois, the Roman Catholic priest who founded SOA Watch organization to close the SOA, said after that sentencing, “Judge Faircloth has sentenced our sister and brothers to 6 months in federal prison for speaking the truth about the SOA/WHINSEC.”
Father Roy said, “These sentences are symbolic of our nation’s misdirection, but they are also great steps forward for our resistance movement. It is truer today, than ever before, that although they jail the resisters they have not, and cannot, jail the resistance.”
Copyright Deborah Dupre, Examiner 2010. All rights reserved.
Deborah Dupré, B.Sci, MA. Sci, DipContEd, QMHP from U.S. and Australian universities, human and environmental rights advocate for over 25 years in the U.S., Vanuatu and Australia. Support her work by subscribing to her articles and forwarding the link of this article to friends and colleagues or reposting only title and first paragraph linked to this Examiner page. Emails [email protected] Send targeting and Gulf illness news tips to her with your name or anonymously. See her Vaccine Liberty or Death book plus Compassion Film Project DVDs.
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