|Saturday Events Included Massive Rally, Workshops, Concerts, and More|
For immediate release
Contact: Hendrik Voss
November 17, 2012
Thousands Gathered on Saturday at the Gates of U.S. Military Base in Georgia to Close the SOA/WHINSEC
3-Day Mobilization to Culminate with Mass Die-in and Funeral Procession to Commemorate the Victims of SOA/ WHINSEC Violence and U.S. Militarization today Sunday November 18, 2012
Columbus, Georgia – The second day of the largest annual anti-militarization gathering in North America took place in Columbus, Georgia, on Saturday, November 17. The day included a massive rally in the morning, where thousands came together at the gates of the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC), now named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The day finished at the Convention Center in downtown Columbus, Georgia, where hundreds enjoyed workshops, live music, and strategy sessions.
The morning gathering at the gates of the military school at Fort Benning consisted of musicians like emma’s revolution and Rebel Diaz, and international speakers like Francia Marquez, Martin Almada, and Ismael Moreno.
Francia Marquez, a leader from the Afro-Colombian gold-mining community of La Toma in southwestern Colombia, talked about how her community has struggled against political, economic and armed forces looking to control their hands and resources.
Martin Almada, a Paraguayan educator, talked about his experience as a political prisoner under the regime of Alfredo Stroessner. His wife died of a heart attack after being forced to hear through a telephone her husband’s cries as he was tortured.
Ismael Moreno (known in Honduras as Father Melo), a Jesuit priest, radio host and contributor to Envio magazine, had his radio station occupied by the military following the SOA led military coup and he began receiving death threats.
Moreno’s story shows how, even though the school changed its name in 2001 to WHINSEC, the graduates of this U.S. taxpayer-funded military school are still key players in human rights abuses throughout Latin America. The school made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. But this admission, to say nothing of fact that hundreds of SOA alumni have been implicated in human rights abuses, has never prompted an independent investigation into the training facility.
On Friday and Saturday, the mobilization also included workshops, concerts, and strategy sessions at the Convention Center, in Columbus, Georgia. A funeral procession will follow on Sunday to commemorate the victims of U.S. militarism.
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