WASHINGTON - January 28 - In a series of trials just completed on January 28 in U.S. district court in Columbus, Ga., two former Detroiters were sentenced for their participation in an action of civil disobedience to close the U.S. Army´s School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Ft. Benning, Ga.
Scott P. Diehl, a pastoral minister who lived in Detroit from 1974 to 1991, was sentenced to 3 months plus a $500 fine.. Mr. Diehl, the father of two teenagers, participates in Christian Peacemaker Teams, an international organization which works in war torn countries around the world to help reduce violence.
Father Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J., a member of the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus, was sentenced to 3 months in Muscogee County Jail. He elected to begin his sentence immediately. Mulligan worked in Detroit from 1978 to 1986. Father Mulligan, who has lived in Nicaragua for 18 years, works with Christian base communities and with the Jesuit Volunteers International, and he is one of the Jesuits´ main investigators into the case of Father James Carney who disappeared in Honduras in 1983 when he entered that country as a chaplain to an insurgent group.
In the current School of the Americas case in Georgia, other Catholic priests were also sentenced, as well as a religious sister and a Presbyterian minister. A total of 27 were sentenced.
Father Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J., has begun an indefinite, liquids only fast. His statement about the fast follows, and then you will find his report on the Nov. 23 action at Ft. Benning and a statement by him and 11 others concerning their reasons for participating in the protest.
STATEMENT BY FATHER JOSEPH E. MULLIGAN, S.J., ABOUT HIS FAST
Date: January 28, 2004
Today I begin an indefinite, liquids only fast as I start serving the prison sentence I received for walking onto Ft. Benning in protest against the School of the Americas/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation on Nov. 23, 2003.
1. I AM FASTING AND PRAYING that the U.S. Congress will vote to close downSOA/WHISC in repudiation of its record of training Latin American dictators, assassins, and torturers.
2. I AM FASTING AND PRAYING that the U.S. government, at SOA/WHISC and at other installations, will cease training, equipping, and strengthening the hand of the armed forces of Latin America, since such militarization is NOT the most urgent need of the poor of the continent and since it entails the integration and control of Latin American forces in the service of U.S. military strategies, as in Iraq.
3. I AM FASTING AND PRAYING that U.S. and Latin American troops will be withdrawn from Iraq so that the Iraqi people can exercise true freedom and self determination in their own country; if the Iraqis choose to have the assistance of the U.N. and other international bodies in rebuilding their country, their decision should be honored.
4. I AM FASTING AND PRAYING that the U.S. government, especially the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Honduran government will release all information concerning Father James Guadalupe Carney, an American priest who disappeared in Honduras in 1983 after entering that country as a chaplain to an insurgent group, and that both governments will do everything possible to find his remains and to clarify the circumstances of his disappearance. James Carney had received basic training at Ft. Benning before being sent to Europe during World War II. Some of the Honduran soldiers alleged to have been involved in his disappearance were SOA graduates.
5. I AM FASTING AND PRAYING that the U.S. government, especially the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Honduran government will release all information concerning the American citizen David Arturo Baez Cruz, who also disappeared in Honduras in 1983 in the same group with Father Carney, and that both governments will do everything possible to find his remains and to clarify the circumstances of his disappearance. An investigation should be made of the statements of a retired U.S. Army Delta Force Sergeant Major who wrote in his autobiography ("Inside DeltaForce The Story of America´s Elite Counterterrorist Unit," DelacortePress, 2002) that he killed a Nicaraguan American in combat in Honduras, whom he later identified as Mr. Baez Cruz (see MIAMI HERALD, Sept. 3, 2003, "Ex Green Beret's Sandinista story emerges 20 years later," by Juan O. Tamayo). Baez Cruz, a Nicaraguan by birth, had been a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces for 11 years before returning to Nicaragua and then entering Honduras.In a radio talk show in Georgia in November, 2002, the former Delta Force Sergeant Major stated that Fr. Carney was killed,adding: "there was some talk, and I believe I had heard some evidence, that he did not die an easy death.... What I heard was that from the condition of his body, he was brutalized prior to his death, that the marks that were on his body had to have been inflicted while he was still alive." About 50% of the material concerning Baez Cruz and Father Carney "declassified" by the U.S. government is blacked out.
During this fast, as I pray to the God of justice and peace, I am also directing my requests to the appropriate governmental authorities.