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http://www.soaw.org/new/img/original/soa2003.jpg Join thousands from across the Americas from November 21-23, 2003 at the gates of the U.S. military base Fort Benning in Georgia - home of the notorious School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) - to stand in Solidarity with the victims of the School of Assassins and to speak out against terror and violence. Engage in nonviolent direct action to make your voice heard, to close the SOA/WHISC, and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy.
For over a decade, students, religious, labor, veterans, human rights, and social/global justice groups have been converging every November at the gates of Fort Benning, GA to speak out in solidarity with the people of the Americas and to engage in nonviolent direct action. We will gather again this year on November 22 and 23, 2003 and continue together in the struggle until the School of the Americas is closed and the policies it represents are changed forever. The events this year will be preceded by teach-ins, trainings, and caucuses on Friday, November 21.
The spirit of liberation is rising up in the people all around the globe. It cannot be silenced by threats and violence any more than it can be contained by prison walls. Our friends who were prosecuted for their witness against the SOA in November 2002 will continue to speak out during their sentences of prison and probation. We call on everyone to speak out against the continuous atrocities perpetrated by graduates of the SOA/WHISC throughout Latin America and to come to Georgia in November.
What you can do:
- Donate. Your help is needed to cover the costs of the November Vigil.
- Come to Georgia.
- Cross the Line.
- Talk to your local media about your participation in the protests to close the SOA.
- Contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support legislation to close the SOA.
- Organize and Publicize nonviolent direct action trainings, talks about the SOA, video showings, educational and solidarity events in your community. Download an Organizing Packet.
- Build and bring crosses, Stars of David, Birds of Liberation and other commemorative symbols for the solemn funeral procession at the gates of Fort Benning.
- Volunteer with Indymedia, the street medics, puppetistas, peacekeepers and many other groups.
Please contact John at (202) 234 3440 in the SOA Watch office in DC if you will be able to help out during the vigil action.
Download and Distribute the Mobilization FlierPlease download the November 2003 flier, make copies and distribute them at events, meetings, bookstores, coffeeshops, schools etc.
Join the Organizing!
Order videos about the SOA to educate your family and friends about the School of the Americas/WHISC - Organize a video showing and a discussion in your school, place of worship or community center.
Contact SOA Watch: PO Box 4566 ~ Washington, DC, 20017
Phone: (202) 234 3440 ~ email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American soldiers in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. Graduates of the SOA are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America. Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians. (See Grads in the News.)
On January 17, 2001 the SOA was replaced by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC).
The result of a Department of Defense proposal included in the Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal 2001, the name-change measure passed when the House of Representatives defeated a bi-partisan amendment to close the SOA and conduct a congressional investigation by a narrow ten vote margin. (See Talking Points, Critique of New School, Vote Roll Call.)
In a media interview, Georgia Senator and SOA supporter, the late Paul Coverdell, characterized the DOD proposal as "cosmetic" changes that would ensure that the SOA could continue its mission and operation. Critics of the SOA concur. The new military training school is the continuation of the SOA under a new name. It is a new name, but the same shame.
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.