For Immediate Release
Human Rights Activists to Congress: Stop the Pentagon from Training Terrorists
Rally, Parade and Nonviolent Direct Action on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC against “military solutions” and to close the School of the Americas.
WASHINGTON - Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed in the April 6th issue of “The New Yorker” magazine that the Pentagon trained members of the dissident Iranian terrorist group M.E.K. in Nevada starting in 2005. Following their training inside the U.S., they returned to Iran and may have engaged in covert activities. The United States has a long history of training the "enemies of its enemies," and the results have been disastrous for people around the globe. Several of the 9/11 hijackers received U.S. funded training through the Pakistani intelligence service ISI. The Mexican drug cartel “Zetas” was formed by Mexican Special Forces members, who were trained at the School of the Americas and then defected.
From April 14-17, 2012, School of the Americas Watch will converge on Washington, DC to demand from Members of Congress to close the controversial U.S. Army’s School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC) and to put an end to the U.S.' reliance on “military solutions.” The Days of Action will bring together human rights activists from across the Americas. The Days of Action include a one-day conference on Saturday, April 14, a concert on April 15 and will culminate in a rally and march on Capitol Hill on Monday April 16, followed by a nonviolent direct action.
For the schedule of events and more information about the Days of Action, visit http://SOAW.org
“Militarization in the Americas has increased during the Obama administration, as evidenced by the military coup and the ongoing violence in Honduras, the ever-expanding 'War on Drugs,' the continuing murders of unionists in Colombia and the construction of new U.S. military bases throughout the hemisphere.” said SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois, who plans to engage in nonviolent direct action on Capitol Hill to call on Members of Congress to close the SOA/ WHINSEC. “It's time for us to step it up, to get anti-militarization on the national agenda in 2012, and to create alliances to stop 'teaching democracy' through the barrel of a gun!”
The protests are being fueled by recent developments in Latin America. The militarization of the El Salvador's public security force has been linked to U.S. pressure. School of the Americas graduates are engaged in violence on all sides of the "War on Drugs" in Mexico: The Zetas drug cartel was formed by Mexican Special Forces members who were trained at the School of the Americas and then deserted. The Ciudad Juarez chief of police, retired army Lieutenant Coronel Julian Leyzaola Pérez, is a graduate of the SOA, and has been accused by the UNHCR of arbitrary detention, excessive violence and torture. Four out of six Honduran militaries connected to the 2009 military coup in Honduras were trained at the SOA. Over 10,000 Colombian soldiers have been trained at the SOA. Their names consistently top the lists of perpetrators in reports from Colombia. Over 15 Colombian unionists have been murdered since April 2011.
The SOA/ WHINSEC, a military training facility for Latin American soldiers located in Ft. Benning, Georgia, made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. In spite of this and hundreds of documented human rights abuses connected to soldiers trained at the school, no independent investigation into the facility has ever taken place, and Congress continues to sign off on millions in funding each year.
Representative James McGovern (MA) introduced HR3368, the Latin America Military Training Review Act as HR 3368 in the 122th Congress. This legislation would suspend operations at the SOA/ WHINSEC, investigate torture manuals and human rights abuses associated with the school, and conduct an assessment of military training in Latin America.
From April 14-17, human rights activists will take their message directly to Washington, DC. Using street theater, marches, lobbying and nonviolent direct action, the SOA Watch movement will tell President Obama and the U.S. Congress to shut down the expensive, scandal-ridden, region-destabilizing, abusive School of the Americas once and for all.
SOA Watch is an independent organization that seeks to close the US Army School of the Americas, under whatever name it is called, through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work.