This November 20-22, 2015, we will return to the gates of Fort Benning to take a stand for justice and accountability. Torture survivors, union workers, religious communities, musicians,puppetistas, students, migrants, veterans and others from across the country will speak out against violence and militarization. We will commemorate the martyrs, march to Stewart Detention Center,teach and learn from each other in the Columbus Convention Center, and celebrate resistance at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia.
Hendrik Voss <email@example.com>, SOA Watch <soaw.org>
Originally posted on Rise Up Times by Evergreene Digest
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July 3, 2015 | Twenty-five years ago, a handful of human rights activists staged a hunger strike at the gates of Fort Benning, one year after the November 16,1989 massacre at the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador. It was on that date that Elba Ramos, her daughter Celina Maricet Ramos, and Fathers Ignacio Ellacuría , Ignacio Martín-Baró, Segundo Montes, Amando López, Joaquín López y López, and Juan Ramón Moreno were murdered by Salvadoran soldiers trained at the School of the Americas (SOA).
Fort Benning – one of the largest military bases in the world – is named after Georgia politician and Confederate general Henry L. Benning, who helped Georgia secede, and who was an outspoken proponent of slavery. Fort Benning is home to the notorious School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC). Over the years, SOA/WHINSEC has become a focal point of people power resistance to empire and militarization.
The 2014 disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa rural teaching school in Guerrero, Mexico by police underscores the plight of countless others throughout Mexico and Central America that have fallen victim to the US-sponsored “Drug War”. If continued unabated, we can expect to see more violence, more deaths, more displacement, more migration, more impunity, more injustice – made possible through US tax dollars and failed policies.
Over the years, our work has expanded to look at the root causes of migration as a symptom of SOA-sponsored violence an oppressive US foreign policy in Latin America, as there is a direct link between militarization and migration. As we continue to connect our struggles, we will also return to Stewart Detention Center – one of the largest private for-profit immigrant prisons – to call for the closure of all immigrant detention centers, an end to mandatory bed quotas and deportations. Twenty-five years later, our resolve to close the SOA and continue resisting a racist culture of militarism is stronger than ever.
After 25 years of resistance, we will converge once more to create a space of mourning and remembrance. We will also come together as a community to create a space of transformational learning and continued solidarity with communities across the entire hemisphere – Honduras, Ferguson, Mexico, Baltimore, Colombia and Charleston – who are standing up for dignity and their lives in the face of racist and militarized state-sponsored violence.
As more and more people continue to learn about the SOA/WHINSEC, our grassroots solidarity movement remains one of the largest anti-militarism convergences in the US. Today, our movement is dynamic, multi-generational and committed to organizing and mobilizing for a world that is possible.We are counting on your presence. It’s never too early to begin making travel plans or moblizing your community!
We will come together to let our voices be heard and our actions in solidarity with our sisters and brothers across the hemisphere felt through our long-standing tradition of non-violent direct action. We must continue connecting our struggles and resisting US militarism in all of its manifestations. We must push back.
Arturo, Brigitte, Eva Alejandra, Hendrik, Jonathan, Karolina, Kat, María Luisa, Pablo and Roy