samedi, décembre 23, 2006

Actualité - Main Convergence at Fort Benning Actions to Close the School of the Assassins in 10 Countries

An estimated 22,000 people converged on Forth Benning, Georgia on November 19, demanding that the School of the Assassins (SOA) be closed and that the U.S. end its torture and militarization of the peoples of the Americas. The action was larger than last year’s record attendance, as the peoples step up their rejection of U.S. militarism and aggression worldwide. Youth and students joined union, immigrant rights, religious and peace groups from throughout the Americas. This year they were joined by a large contingent of anti-war veterans, a delegation of grandmothers more than 1,000 strong and a large contingent of civil rights activists who marched from Selma, Alabama to Fort Benning. Together the protesters emphasized that there is One Humanity! One Struggle!

The Close the SOA action is marked by its solemn funeral procession, with everyone carrying a cross with the name of one of those killed or disappeared, as well is for its festival of life, using puppetistas, large displays and banners, drumming, music, and civil disobedience. The grandmothers wore white handkerchiefs in the same tradition as the Madres de Plaza de Mayo of Argentina, paying tribute to the fallen and disappeared of the Americas. They spoke for all in saying in condemning the SOA, saying “Imagine the gentle wisdom of one thousand caregivers taking action to stop the teaching of counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. Imagine the power of one thousand change-makers saying NO to the perpetuation of crimes against humanity, especially against indigenous communities and children.” The women were joined by numerous torture survivors spoke out, as did union activists. The actions made clear “that our drums are not the drums of war and destruction but drums of joy and liberation.”

As part of this year’s demonstration 16 activists crossed the fence onto the Ft. Benning military base. They defied unjust laws blocking political speech on military bases and demanded justice and accountability from the military for its massacres, torture and training of death-squads. The 16 came from states across the country, including, Florida, Kentucky and West Virginia; Indiana and Missouri; Arizona and California. They include students, teachers, a farmer, two grandmothers, a pastor and peace activists.

The 16 were arraigned in federal court on charges of unlawful entry. Fifteen of the 16 arrested were released after bail money ($500 - $1,000/per person) was posted. One person decided to remain in prison, awaiting trial. She is being held at Muscogee County Jail in Columbus, Georgia. The 16 will appear in federal court in Columbus on January 29, 2007 to put the SOA itself on trial.

While record numbers attended the annual demonstration at the gates of Fort Benning, thousands more gathered at protests and vigils throughout the Americas. -Coordinated actions protesting US militarism and calling for the closure of the SOA took place in -Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Paraguay and Peru, as well as in Ireland, and Canada.

SOA Watch reports: “The Chilean human rights group Kamarikun organized a vigil to close the SOA in Santiago. The Movement of Christians for Peace with Justice and Dignity organized vigils at four key sites emblematic of US militarism: the US-leased air base in Manta, Ecuador; and the capital cities of Paraguay, El Salvador and Colombia. In Ecuador, actions were organized in Quito, Ibarra, Ambato and Tulcan. In Colombia, in addition to Bogota, there were actions for Medellin (Antioquia), Cali (Valle del Cauca), Popayan (Cauca), Sogamoso (Boyaca), Neiva (Huila) and Barrancabermeja (Santander), where 1,000 women dressed in black commemorated the victims of militarism in the region.”

As one activist and torture survivor from Argentina said, saluting the Ft. Benning protest, “We need to meet and know each other, because we are all part of one big and important struggle, a struggle for life, a struggle to share resources and to live in peace without these terrible criminals. I think we are going to win! Yes, we are going to win!”

(Voice of Revolution)

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