Monday, November 23, 2009

Fort Benning, Georgia: Thousands Speak Out Against the School of the Americas and for Human Rights in the Americas

/PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of solidarity activists gathered at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia in a funeral procession commemorating the hundreds of thousands killed and tortured by graduates of the School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC).

Four demonstrators carried their witness across military lines and were arrested on Ft. Benning: Nancy Gwin of Syracuse, NY; Ken Hayes of Austin, TX; Fr. Louis Vitale of Oakland, CA; and Michael Walli of Washington, DC. Walli remains in custody and the other three are currently being released on bail, to face trial in January 2010. None of those responsible for SOA/WHINSEC crimes have ever been held accountable, while 286 peace and justice activists have served up to 2 years in prison for their acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.

On Sunday morning, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), announced that SOA Watch and founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois have been nominated by the Quaker organization for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. "We are deeply honored, and deeply humbled, to be nominated for this prize for peace," commented Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient. "This nomination is a recognition of the work of the thousands struggling against militarism across the Americas."

Following the procession, several hundred activists marched together, risking arrest, into the street beyond the confines of the protest to carry their message of resistance and people power further.

The weekend has been a tremendous success for all those struggling against militarism across the Americas.

Bertha Oliva from the Committee of the Family Members of the Disappeared from Honduras was one of the featured speakers this weekend. Several SOA Watch activists, including Lisa Sullivan, SOA Watch's Latin America Coordinator, will accompany her when she returns to Honduras in order to stay in solidarity with the people who are resisting the SOA graduate-led military coup in that country.

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