Columbus, Georgia – 2,500 human rights activists braved the rainstorms on Sunday, November 23 and converged at Fort Benning to call for an end to militarized state violence in the US and abroad. Featured presenters came from Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Venezuela, and the US.
Following the stage program, a solemn funeral procession commemorated those murdered at the hands of School of the Americas/WHINSEC graduates, including the two women and six Jesuit priests who were massacred in 1989 at the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador, as well as activists from Honduras, Mexico and Colombia killed earlier this year.
Eve Tetaz, an 83-year-old author, veteran peace and justice activist and retired public schoolteacher from Washington, DC, crossed the line onto Fort Benning in solitary nonviolent witness at 9 am, carrying with her a poster of one of the 43 students disappeared in Ayotzinapa, Mexico this September, and the prophetic Isaiah verse, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares.” After the procession concluded,longtime SOA Watch activist Nashua Chantal, a 62-year-old human rights defender from Americus, Georgia, carried a ladder to the fence which military police erected to keep our peaceful message from entering the base. This is the third arrest at Fort Benning for Chantal, who previously served a three-month sentence in 2005 and six months in 2013 for crossing the line.
Five other solidarity activists were arrested yesterday on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at the gates of the Stewart Detention Center.The five carried their nonviolent message of justice and dignity for all onto the property of the Corrections Corporation of America, which warehouses 1,800 men at Stewart for profit in horrific conditions which have led to the death of at least one detainee.
The civil disobedience action followed a procession of about 1,000 human rights activists from Lumpkin, Georgia to the Stewart Detention Center. Activists called for an end to the unjust imprisonment of immigrants and denounced the clear connection between US militarization and forced migration.
SOA/WHINSEC training is among the roots causes which force people to migrate and flee their countries. Many immigrants to the United States are victims of US-sponsored military atrocities in Latin America. In its fight to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC, SOA Watch continues to work towards a world that is free of suffering and violence. SOA Watch considers deportation quotas, mandatory detention, for-profit immigration detention centers, the militarization of the border, the drug war and the training of repressive forces at the SOA/WHINSEC, as all parts of the same racist system of violence and domination. A dismantling of these and other policies is needed for there ever to be true “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”
For photos and videos of the November Vigil weekend, visit http://SOAW.org/november