Thousands Converge on Fort Benning as SOA-Trained Repression Continues in Honduras

from Earth First! Newswire

SOA 2013Thousands gathered yesterday, November 23, at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia. The 23rd annual rally to close the School of the Americas (now known as the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation”) was preceded by a People’s Movement Assembly (PMA) at the Columbus Convention Center, where hundreds of people discussed important movement questions, and shared hopes, dreams and strategies for the future of SOA Watch in 20 groups. Also, among a full schedule of workshops, panels, trainings, film screenings and concerts, members of the Earth First! Journal Collective hosted a workshop entitled “Earth First! and Global Land Struggles: making connections between the defense of biodiversity and active solidarity with land-based communities”.

Today, Sunday, protestors will again converge on the main gates on Fort Benning Road in a massive funeral procession to commemorate the victims of SOA violence and to celebrate the resistance.

SOA 2013 2While participants in this years mobilization gathered at the gates of Fort Benning, the presidential elections in Honduras got underway. Honduran social movements have felt the brunt of SOA-related repression since the military coup led by SOA graduates in 2009. Over 200 social movement activists have been murdered in this time period.

Just this week, SOA Watch (SOAW) activists who are in Honduras to observe the delegation were detained for four hours at a road block. Last night, the LIBRE party headquarters in Tegucigalpa were raided by armed police. Other international observers have also reported harassment. More details from the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) here.

On a side note, the SOA Watch Legal Collective is working with the Partnership for Civil Justice (PCJ) to address the issue of undercover police officers, who have been disruptive to the event’s organizing efforts in recent years. On Thursday morning, organizers presented this letter to the Columbus Police Department, requesting that they cease their practices that interfere with rights to free speech. SOAW have also filed several public record requests to gain a better understanding of the activities of the Columbus Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other agencies.

For a full schedule of the November Vigil weekend events, visit the SOA Watch site.

Click here to read the SOA Watch Media Release from Saturday, November 23, 2013.

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