Monday August 21
Camp Suzanne: Day 5
Fort Lewis, WA -- On Thursday, August 17th 2006, The Swift Action Network began "Camp Suzanne" outside Fort Lewis in Washington State, in honor of and in solidarity with active duty soldier Spc. Suzanne Swift. Suzanne is the victim of sexual assault and "command rape" in the military. She currently suffers from PTSD.
The participants of Camp Suzanne and Swift Action Network have three demands:
1. Spc. Suzanne Swift be granted full honorable discharge.
2. Swift be given medical benefits for life.
3. The perpetrators who sexual assaulted and harassed and command-raped Swift be brought to justice.
Camp Suzanne will remain operational until these three demands are met. Although the demands seem single issue, the purpose of the camp is to raise awareness not just of Suzanne Swift, but of sexual violence and rape in general, especially as a result of war and militarization. A joint communique from members of Tacoma SDS and Olympia SDS will come out some time shortly. Code Pink is also intending to make a presence this week.
On the evening of Saturday August 19 a vigil was held outside the fort entrance. Over 30 people were in attendance, many of them from Olympia, but people traveled there from Tacoma and Portland as well. Messages of solidarity were delivered there from Suzanne's mother Sara Rich and Cindy Sheehan. Both of them sent their love and solidarity and made note of all victims of sexual assault and rape at the hands of the US military such as civilian and POW rape victims from Iraq and Korea.
A sympathetic local businessman, property owner and veteran agreed to let Camp Suzanne establish a permanent campsite located close to Fort Lewis at exit 119 off of I5. People who are interested in coming are encouraged to bring food, water and if they wish, their own camping amenities if they want to set up a tent.
A few active organizers from Camp Suzanne went to the Ani DiFranco concert in Bellevue the other night where they distributed 800 flyers about Camp Suzanne, Suzanne Swift and rape in the military. Ani mentioned Suzanne's case to the audience during the concert.
Finally, one organizer was able to connect with an off-duty soldier from Fort Lewis who was appalled at what happened to Suzanne. He stated that the military is attempting to suppress any information about Camp Suzanne and Suzanne Swift in their daily security briefings. The soldier is working from within Fort Lewis to spread the word about Suzanne Swift to other soldiers who are being misinformed about her case.
It has been five days since the camp started. Camp Suzanne will stay outside Fort Lewis until the three demands are met. Our resistance and struggle against all forms of patriarchy will continue indefinitely.