October 28, 2010

SOA/WHINSEC: Nonviolent Direct Action to close it down in 3 weeks

SOAW vigil, 2009

Engage in Nonviolent Direct Action to Close the SOA/WHINSEC
Para información en español ver abajo clíc aquí

November 19-21
Vigil to Shut Down the SOA
Gather at the gates of Ft. Benning in nonviolent resistance to let our voices be heard.

This year there will be different ways for people to be involved in the Saturday action including crossing the line of the base of Fort Benning which risks federal arrest, or a city side action, outside the permitted area. But note that you may also participate without risking arrest. SOA Watch has permits for the activities in front of the base, and the acts of civil disobedience for those risking arrest will be clearly marked.

Want to participate in nonviolent direct action, but can’t risk a federal arrest?

This year some in our community are inviting interested individuals and groups to join in an action of civil disobedience in Columbus, Georgia on Saturday. This will be an action on city property, not the base, and carries different legal risks.

Individuals who participate in the action could expect after arrest to:
a) be in jail until they are bonded out and to have to appear in court, and bond money may be applied to possible fine. The jail schedule lists $1000 bond for misdemeanors and city offenses for out-of-staters and $300-500 for in-staters;
b) stay in jail longer without paying a bond and appear in court and possibly pay a fine.
Folks that are interested should:
-Form an affinity group

-Get in touch with Charity Ryerson from the Direct Action Working Group at charityryerson@gmail.com

-Attend a nonviolence training on Friday, November 19th in the morning or afternoon. If you are not able to attend either time periods please contact joannepsheehan@gmail.com for things to do prior to coming to vigil.

-Attend the Direct Action preparation meeting on Friday night 7:30-9:30pm, Convention Center 207; or Saturday after the plenary at 10:45am

-Attend the Saturday Morning Plenary 9-10:30 at Convention Center

-For last minute nonviolence training please meet on Saturday, November 20th, at 1:30pm near the Food Not Bombs tent on Ft. Benning road.

-For Legal advice please consult Alison at alimc02@yahoo.com or Nikki at nikkithanos@gmail.com.

-People willing to risk federal arrest by crossing the line onto the base of Fort Benning, please contact Judith Kelly at silverdove@verizon.net. People cross the line of the base in order to get closer to the School of Americas, the place where many abuses throughout Latin America begin.
SOAW vigil, 2009

Join human rights activists from religious communities, unions, student groups, among others, in non-violent direct action. We look to the thousands before us, who have participated in civil disobedience by "putting their bodies on the line" leading to 297 different people serving time in federal prison leading to almost 100 collective years. These Prisoners of Conscience are part of the inspiration and strength of the movement. Click here for more information on last years Prisoner of Conscience.

Brian DeRouen and Meagan Doty arrested in 2004,
prisoners of Conscience crossing the line to the base in 2004

Father Roy Bourgeois:
"While these brave peacemakers have been incarcerated and sentenced to probation for their courageous acts, those responsible for the use of the torture manuals at the SOA and for training human rights abusers have never seen a jail cell from the inside. We are here to change that."
Due to our presence at the gates of Fort Benning every year, SOA Watch has become known as one of the largest, grassroots movements in the U.S. We gather in the diverse traditions of nonviolence of those who walk before us. It is one of our strongest strategies of defiance to U.S. militarism that is increasing throughout the Americas. This direct action is also what keeps pressure on the Department of Defense and Congress to SHUT DOWN THE SOA/WHINSEC.

See you at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia!

SOA Watch

SOAW vigil, 2009

-thanks to SOAW

October 26, 2010

IVAW Statement on the Iraq War Logs - A Call for Accountability

IVAW Statement on the Iraq War Logs - A Call for Accountability
The latest release by Wikileaks of the Iraq War Logs is the largest leak in U.S. history and reveals in extensive detail what Iraq Veterans Against the War has been saying since our founding in 2004. The U.S. has presided over a bloody occupation for seven years where war crimes are a common offense, civilian casualties have been grossly under-reported, and corporate contractors run amok.

IVAW Statement on the Iraq War Logs - A Call for Accountability
The recent Wikileaks release--The Iraq War Logs--has shed important light on the high rate of civilian death and widespread atrocities, including torture, that are endemic to the war in Iraq. As veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are outraged that the U.S. government sought to hide this information from the U.S. public, instead presenting a sanitized and deceptive version of war, and we think it is vital for this and further information to get out. Members of IVAW have experienced firsthand the realities of war on the ground, and since our inception we have spoken out about similar atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are asking the U.S. public to join us in calling on our government to end the occupations and bring our brothers and sisters home.

The U.S. government has been claiming for years that they do not keep count of civilian death tolls, yet the recent releases show that they do, in fact, keep count. Between 2004 and 2009, according to these newly disclosed records, at least 109,032 Iraqis died, 66,081 of whom were civilians. The Guardian reports that the Iraq War Logs show that the U.S. military and government gave de facto approval for hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape, and murder by Iraqi soldiers and police officers. These recent revelations, along with the Afghan War Diaries and Collateral Murder footage, weave a picture of wars in which the rules of engagement allow for excessive violence, woven into the fabric of daily life with the U.S. military presence acting as a destabilizing and brutalizing force. The Iraq War Logs, while crucial, are reports produced in real time and themselves may be slanted to minimize the culpability of U.S. forces. Still, they represent an important part of evidence in assessing the reality of the Iraq war, evidence that can only be improved by the further release of documents and information and corroboration by individuals involved. To this end, our members are reviewing both Wikileaks' Afghanistan War Diaries and the Iraq War Logs to identify incidents we were part of and to shed more light on what really happened.

IVAW has been speaking out about these atrocities and abuses since our inception. Our organization is comprised of over 2,000 veterans and active duty troops who have served since September 11, 2001. We demand immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, reparations for the people of those countries, and full benefits for returning veterans, including mental healthcare. At our March 2008 Winter Soldier hearings in Maryland, more than fifty veterans and active-duty service members publicly testified about the orders they were told to carry out in these countries, sharing stories of excessive violence, trauma, and abuse.

Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord, two IVAW members who were in the unit captured in the Wikileaks "Collateral Murder" video, have spoken out about how the incidents caught on film are not isolated cases of 'a few bad soldiers' but rather, part of the nature of these wars. "There has been little accountability in the wars that my friends and I once thought represented everything that was noble about our country," wrote Stieber in anticipation of the Iraq War Logs. In an open letter, Stieber calls for policy makers to "take accountability for these wars and the full truth about them."

As veterans, we know that the violence documented in the Iraq War Logs traumatizes the people living under occupation. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also have been marked by staggering rates of military trauma and suicide among the troops tasked with carrying out these orders. Last year, 239 soldiers killed themselves and 1,713 soldiers survived suicide attempts; 146 soldiers died from high-risk activities, including 74 drug overdoses. A third of returning troops report mental health problems, and 18.5 percent of all returning service members are battling either Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation. Our Operation Recovery campaign, launched on October 7, seeks to end the cruel and inhumane practice of redeploying troops suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Military Sexual Trauma, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other mental and physical wounds--a practice that underlies the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Critics attacking Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's character are attempting to use ad hominem arguments to detract from the real issues and divert public attention from the content of the Iraq War Logs. We urge honest and thorough discussion of the content of these documents, and we think this discussion must not be sidelined. Furthermore, with past Wikileaks revelations, U.S. administration and military authorities were quick to vilify Army Specialist Bradley Manning who is being accused of leaking these documents to the public. Yet we insist that it is the right of the U.S. public to have accurate information about wars that are being fought in our name and funded by our tax dollars, and we support the public sharing of this information. Exposing war crimes is not a crime.

Government deception is inexcusable. Authorities have kept this information secret in the name of 'national security,' but what they really are afraid of is public opinion, which they know will turn against them if the truth about these wars gets out in the mainstream. An accurate count of Iraqi dead, acknowledgment of torture, and full disclosure of the role of private contractors are facts that should be made public in a democracy. We believe that real national security is created where government transparency and accountability, free press, and an end to spending on illegal wars and occupations are the norm. Continued silence and secrecy is a grave threat to the security of the Iraqi and Afghan people, and we demand openness, accountability, and real discussion of these revelations.

We grieve for the Iraqi and Afghan lives that were lost and destroyed in these wars. We also grieve for our brothers and sisters in arms, who have been lost to battle or suicide. The Iraq War Logs bring home part of the harsh reality of these wars, a reality that we--as veterans--live with everyday. We demand a real end to both wars, including immediate withdrawal of the 50,000 "non-combat" troops who remain in the Iraq. The Iraq War Logs underscore the urgent need for peace, healing, and reparations for all who have been harmed by these wars. The first step is to bring our brothers and sisters home.

to make a donation to Iraq Veterans Against the War, click here

October 18, 2010

film: Poster Girl with Robynn Murray

I'm looking forward to the screening of 'Poster Girl' in Rochester on Thursday, October 21st. Robin is a member of IVAW and she lives in the Buffalo area. I first met her when she was a powerful participant in the Winter Soldier Investigation in Rochester.

Short documentary film screening: Poster Girl (2010), followed by Q&A with director Sara Neeson and subject Robynn Murray(sponsored by Bonadio Group)
Poster Girl is the story of Robynn Murray, an all-American high school cheerleader turned ‘poster girl’ for women in combat, profiled by Army Magazine’s cover shot. Now home from Iraq, her tough-as-nails exterior begins to crack, leaving Robynn struggling with the debilitating effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the challenges of rebuilding her life.
Portrayal Films is pleased to announce Sara Nesson’s new documentary POSTER GIRL, just had its U.S. premiere at Telluride Film Festival and will have its world premiere at IDFA, the the most prestigious international documentary festival this November.
-at the Little Theater
240 East Ave, Rochester, New York 14607(585) 258-0400
-call Marilyn Lambert-Fisher (585) 749-7121 for more information.

October 17, 2010

American GI resisters gather in Fort Erie, Ontario, across the Niagara River from Buffalo, NY

an article on the Operational Bulletin:
National Post

an article on yesterday's event:

-thanks to Christine Beckermann for the two newspaper links

October 14, 2010

Rodney Watson can't come to Fort Erie, but you can. Meet some of the GI resisters in Canada.

Two more days until "Refusing Orders/Crossing Borders" in Fort Erie, Ontario. If you need directions, go to the site and click on the appropriate map link.

As the event approaches I keep thinking about Rodney Watson. It would have been great if he could have participated. The problem is that he is living in sanctuary in a church in Vancouver, BC. with his wife and child. Back in September, 2009 the Canadian government order him out of the country - deported. Instead he took sanctuary in a church. If he leaves the building, he faces arrest and deportation and begins a whole new incarceration in a military prison separated from his family.

It was my intention to visit and possibly do a video interview with him while I was on the west coast. Unfortunately my most wonderful partner became ill and had a serious, unexpected surgery, We hobbled back to Buffalo where she awaits further testing.

In the meantime our love goes out to Rodney and his family. This is a video from September, 2009.

See also this recent post on Quiet Mike's Mumblings. He suggests you write Prime Minister Harper.

October 9, 2010

Buffalo, NY - Lafayette Square - Oct 7 2010 -- Anti-Recruitment Protest - Part 1

Video by Rob Gould

Bruce Beyer:
"For Dede Miller: my daughter and her boyfriend (plus other friends) are inspired by West Coast efforts to save their sisters and brothers from the body snatchers. Thank you Dede!"

October 6, 2010

One Nation Rally in DC

photo by Bill O'Reilly
"Secret Service cop who told me it was against the law to take pictures of Secret Service cops.

Here's your non-picture, Bro.

In memory of your non-war in our non-Police State.

I will not obey."

October 4, 2010

C-440 dies, but the campaign to keep war resisters in Canada lives and thrives

The following is Laura's post on We Move To Canada:

As you know, on Wednesday, Bill C-440, the private member's bill that would have allowed US war resisters to stay in Canada, was defeated in second reading by seven votes.

It was a terrible shock to everyone who had worked so tirelessly to get the bill through, including MP Gerard Kennedy. Kennedy did everything he could to see this bill pass, and he was blindsided by the results.

We were angry, and hurt, and sad. Many of us were especially angry at a dozen Liberal MPs who were in the House of Commons for the vote on the long-form census, but left before the C-440 vote.

This is understandable, and I initially shared that anger. But now I've refocused my sights on the real culprit: the Harper Government.

* * * *

First, let's review what we were up against.

Most private member's bills do not pass. That's a given. This one sought to change the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a pillar of Canadian law - a tall order. The political atmosphere in Parliament is, to put it mildly, highly fractious. We've heard some reports on what went on behind the scenes during the five votes in Wednesday's House of Commons - the political infighting, the vindictiveness, the accusations and threats. It was intense - and in the larger picture, quite sad and scary.

Given all those obstacles, C-440 was defeated by only seven votes. The war resisters have a lot of political support.

It's still a defeat; I obviously understand that. But it's not a repudiation of what we're fighting for. 136 Members of Parliament, from all three opposition parties, voted in favour of allowing US war resisters to stay in Canada, and several who were not present for the vote also support the idea. That 136 is actually a greater number than voted for the second motion in favour of war resisters, passed in March, 2009. Our support has not decreased: it has increased.

The bill had some obvious flaws - and the reason it was flawed, the roots of the problem, are Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney and the rest of the Conservative government, who ignored two recommendations passed by a united Opposition, calling on the government to stop deporting war resisters and let them apply for permanent residence. The motions were clear, focused and direct. They contained none of the pitfalls that had to be written into the bill; they required no reconfiguration of IRPA. It doesn't take a law. All we need is a provision.

Our obstacle is the arrogant, hypocritical, undemocratic, war-loving, fear-mongering Harper government. That's what we should focus on. That is our fight.

If you live in a Liberal, NDP or Bloc riding, I encourage you, as citizens and as voters, to learn how your MP voted: look here. Then contact your MP and either thank her or him, or ask why she or he didn't vote. If you're a Liberal voter - or if you might ever be one - I encourage you to contact Michael Ignatieff, and express whatever you need to express. That's your right as a resident of Canada and I hope you will exercise it.

At last night's meeting, I heard some stories about how key votes have been influenced by constituent pressure, and by MPs learning that they do have support, that they will not be hung out to dry if they vote in favour of any given bill. Your voice makes a difference.

But in the larger picture, the entire issue of deporting war resisters and refusing to implement the two motions lies at the Conservatives' doorstep.

On the one hand, they have forced the war resisters to fight their battles individually through the refugee system - a drawn-out, expensive process, conducted with Minister Jason Kenney's thumb squarely on the scales, as he has politicized the process so thoroughly that all decisions are tainted and no justice can ever be attained. The Canadian courts have consistently affirmed this, most recently in the positive decision in Jeremy Hinzman's humanitarian and compassionate application.

And on the other hand, when a majority of Parliamentarians seek to remove the resisters from the refugee system and courts, by passing a simple provision that would allow them to stay, the government ignores it. The same way they always ignore the will of the majority of Canadians.

The bottom line is: we are not giving up.

If you believe Canada should be a peaceful nation - if you want to live in a Canada that provides a refuge from US militarism - if you believe Canadian policy should reflect Canadian sensibilities, not be a lapdog of the Pentagon - then stand with us.

In the coming weeks and months, the war resisters will need your support more than ever. The Campaign will need phone calls, letters to MPs, letters to newspapers, public actions, and we will desperately need funds. This is about the fate of people and families, but it is also about what kind of country we want Canada to be.

Let Them Stay!

VFP banner drop on Pennsylvannia Ave - War is the Obscenity