Saturday, November 19, 2016: Converge in your community and at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia.
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SOA Watch has organized protests against the training of repressive militaries at Fort Benning since 1983, when three activists - Father Roy Bourgeois, Linda Ventimiglia and Father Larry Rosenbaugh - scaled a tree next to the El Salvadoran troop barracks and blasted Archbishop Oscar Romero’s last homily with a portable sound system into the night. Starting in 1990, on the one-year anniversary of the killing of 16-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos, and six Jesuit priests at the University of Central America (UCA) in San Salvador, El Salvador, SOA Watch has stood vigil at the gates of Fort Benning to demand the closure of the SOA-WHINSEC and remember the victims of US militarization in the Americas.
This year, we moved our annual mobilization to the US/Mexico border, to take a stand against the militarization of the border, to shine a light on the connection between US militarization abroad and the forced migration of thousands who are fleeing North, as well as racist immigration laws. The Convergence at the border took place in October to commemorate the 4th Anniversary of the killing of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez by a US Border Patrol agent in Nogales. Over 1,000 people came together, raised their voices for justice, and the convergence at the border was big success for our movement. Click here for videos and photos, check out the media coverage, and see the list of participating groups, speakers and musicians.
As we approach the weekend in November where we have traditionally gathered at Ft Benning, members of SOA Watch will once again bear witness. The gates of Fort Benning remain sacred ground for our movement, where we have shed tears, celebrated the successes of movements for justice, mourned the dead, spread the ashes of our friends, crossed the line, been arrested, booked, tried, and sentenced, and taken a stand for justice the past 26 years. A small group will gather this year at the main gates of Fort Benning on Saturday, November 19 at 12noon. We won't build the big stage that we had in past years, and there won't be workshops or concerts at the Columbus Convention Center, just a presence at the gates with a speak out and vigil, where we will hold banners and the posters with the faces of the victims of US militarization. This year we will especially call out Presente for those who have been murdered this year in Honduras and demand an end to US military funding and training in Honduras. There will also be a presence at the Stewart Detention Center at 6pm on Saturday, November 19, which going to be organized by our friends from the Interreligious Task Force (IRTF). IRTF is organizing a Caravan for Justice from November 17-20.
Help us make that demand heard loud and clear -- and you do not need to travel across the country to do so. We are asking communities across the country to hold your own actions to speak out against US military training and funding in Honduras. Here are a few action ideas:
• Hold a Vigil in your community on Saturday, November 19th, to remember those murdered as a result of US-sponsored violence in Honduras and throughout Latin America. Find posters here with the faces and stories of some of the countless people who have been killed as a result of the US sponsored violence in Honduras and beyond to use in the vigil or paste in public spaces.
• Organize a visit to your House Member or Senator's office the week before or after November 19th and ask them to do everything in their power to cut US security aid to Honduras. (To find out who your Representative is, click here. To find out if your House member has already sponsored HR 5474, the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, click here. If so, visit their office to thank them).
• If your Representative refuses to cosponsor HR 5474, believes a bigger border wall is the solution, or is otherwise hostile to U.S. accountability in Latin America, perhaps it it is time for a Vigil outside of their offices. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping to organize a local action on or around 11/19
Despite international condemnation of the murder of visionary Indigenous leader Berta Caceres, the military, paramilitaries, and hitmen continue to target land activists, Indigenous leaders, journalists, lawyers, and many more. Thousands more flee the country every day, headed north to escape the widespread violence. Following the US State Department's bogus certification that Honduras was making progress just a month ago, Jose Angel Flores and Silmer George of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan were assassinated and this week the son of a prominent activist in the Aguan Valley was also killed. Not to mention, state security forces aggressively repressed a protest full of children and even babies, and other activists have been shot at. We need to take direct action to demand the US stop sponsoring bloodshed and murders in Honduras. Let us know if you can organize a Vigil or an action on November 19th!
Thank you for your ongoing work for justice. peace and struggle,