"Because the Obama administration has failed to close Guantanamo and the U.S. continues to imprison and interrogate thousands of captives at military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and places unknown, we renew our call for civilian, human-rights centered oversight of all interrogation training and practice.
at Len Roberts Park in Sierra Vista, Arizona. After listening to
speakers and music, the group carried signs and candles remembering
the victims of torture in a one mile procession to the main gate of
Ft. Huachuca, home of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center where
interrogators are trained. Along the way, names of people killed as a
result of torture were called out, and the group responded with
"Presente!". The procession stopped at the office of CACI, a private
military contractor implicated in the abuse of Iraqi detainees.
Soon after the protesters arrived at the gate, five people, including
two Roman Catholic priests, crossed the street and entered the base
with a message for military personnel and civilian employees. They
carried a statement (below) opposing the cruel treatment and abuse of
detainees from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and calling for the
civilian oversight of all military interrogation practices. The
statement also condemned the use of armed drones in warfare.
Arrested were Joshua Harris, 33, Santa Barbara, California; Mariah
Klusmire, 20, Albuquerque, New Mexico; John Heid, 54, Fr. Jerry
Zawada, 72, and Fr. Bob Carney, 66, all of Tucson, Arizona. The five
received a formal letter barring them from entering the base for one
year. Four were released within an hour. Joshua Harris initially
refused to identify himself, instead saying he was there representing
a victim of torture. He was released that evening and charged under
Arizona law with trespass and refusing to provide a truthful name.
Three people arrested at last year's Ft. Huachuca protest were given
ban and bar letters but never prosecuted, because "the Ft. Huachuca
Commander does not want the potential negative publicity", according
to a May 15, 2009 letter to the FBI from Robert Fellrath, Assistant
U.S. Attorney for Arizona.
Thousands of people will gather at Ft. Benning this coming weekend,
November 20-22, for the annual vigil to close the School of the
Americas. Human rights abuses in Latin America, including torture and
murder, have been carried out by graduates of the school. The torture
manual that was used at the School of the Americas came from Ft.
We return to Fort Huachuca to call for an end to torture.
We are here because we desire dialogue with soldiers and commanders
engaged in interrogation training.
We are here because we still question whether soldiers are provided
with adequate training about international human rights law so they
would know to refuse illegal orders and other pressure to torture
captives (including a guarantee that speaking out would not lead to
retaliation or punishment).
We are here in the hope that healing can take place - healing for the
victims of torture, as well as the men and women who have been
involved in carrying out torture.
Because the Obama administration has failed to close Guantanamo and
the U.S. continues to imprison and interrogate thousands of captives
at military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and places unknown, we renew
our call for civilian, human-rights centered oversight of all
interrogation training and practice.
Ft. Huachuca is also implicated in the rapidly expanding, legally
questionable and morally reprehensible use of remotely-piloted
aircraft, or drones, as a weapon of war. We're told that currently
the Army only trains for the operation and maintenance of
reconnaissance and surveillance drones at Ft. Huachuca. But we also
know that the Army plans to weaponize some of these same drones.
Drone attacks have killed many more innocent civilians in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, than alleged terrorists. The
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions has asked whether
the use of drones in targeting terrorists to be killed constitutes
"arbitrary extrajudicial executions", or rogue assassinations in
violation of international law.
We are here today to call for an end to the use of armed drones in
warfare. We believe this terrorizing and killing generates deep
resentment in the region that incites hatred for the U.S., boosts
recruitment for Taliban, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and may
spawn decades of retaliation.
We act in solidarity with the campaign to close the School of the
Americas/Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation at Ft.
Benning, Georgia, where the testimony of torture survivors has
informed our outrage and moved us to action. We also act in
solidarity with people in New York protesting the presence of Reaper
drones at a NY Air National Guard base outside of Syracuse today.
Rogue assassinations and torture have damaged the soul of our nation
and tarnished our image around the world. We know that a world without
torture, without violence and without war is possible. We invite you
to help us create that world.
-thanks to Brenda Norrell, Ellen Grady, & Torture on Trial