Sunday, February 3, 2008

11 Sacrifice Personal Freedom To Shut Down U.S. Torture School

Our government has waged a so-called "global war on terror" and there's a school in Ft. Benning, Georgia teaching people how to terrorize? Obscene hypocrisy!

The SOAW 11January 28, 2008 - Trial

“I crossed the line at WHINSEC and prayed on the grounds to bring attention to the teaching of torture and assassination. When enough people learn the truth about this school and act to end these practices, the healing can begin.” – Diane Lopez-Hughes, one of the SOAW 11The Eleven courageous souls that willingly put their freedom and bodies at risk to stand in witness against the SOA/WHINSEC during the November 2007 Vigil were sentenced on January 28 to federal prison on charges of “trespassing on a military base”.

The trial took place in a courthouse located just a few miles from Fort Benning, the current site of the SOA/WHINSEC. An institute known around the world for its ties to brutal dictatorships and human rights abuses, which continues to operate, unchallenged by our government but not by the people.

The SOAW 11, ranging in ages from 25 to 78 and from very diverse walks of life, testified before magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth. Ed Lewinson, a 78-year old History professor who in November crossed the line for the fourth time, was sentenced to 90 days in federal prison and a $500 fine. This is his first conviction since in previous years the government refused to prosecute due to his blindness. Tiel Rainelli, a 25 year old activist from Canton, OH who was arrested this past November after climbing over the barbed wire fence blocking the main gate of Fort Benning, announced that in spite of the court's decision to sentence her to 90 days in prison, she would return to protest at the gates of Fort Benning in November.

The SOAW 11 are:-
Joan Anderson, 65, Casper, WY - 30 days and a $500 fine-
Ozone Bhaguan, 33, Duluth, MN - 90 days-
Le Anne Clausen, 29, Chicago, IL - 30 days-
Art Landis, 74, Perkasie, PA - 30 days-
Ed Lewinson, 78, Newark NJ - 90 days and a $500 fine-
Chris Lieberman, 54, Albuquerque, NM - 60 days-
Diane Lopez Hughes, 58, Springfield, IL - 45 days and a $500 fine-
Tiel Rainelli, 25, Canton, OH. – 90 days and a $500 fine-
Gus Roddy, 45, Chicago, IL – 30 days and a $500 fine-
Stephen Schweitzer, 45, Binghamtom, NY – 60 days and a $500 fine-
Michelle Yipé, 45, of Argonia, KS - 30 days and a $500 fine

Before entering the court, the SOAW 11 held a press conference for the media on the courthouse steps at 8:00 AM with Diane Lopez Hughes and Ed Lewinson speaking on behalf of the group. On the night of Sunday, January 27 – The SOAW 11 were honored with a Festival of Hope.

Surrounded by supporters, friends and family from around the country, we sang, danced, and listened to poetry and compelling stories. Father Roy addressed the attendants and updated us on the next steps in the campaign to shut down the SOA/WHINSEC and some of the challenges that we face for 2008. - Read the chronology of past SOA Watch Prisoners of Conscience- Read about the SOA 16 (2006-2007)- Please consider making a contribution to support the Trial, Festival of Hope and campaign to Shut Down the SOA/WHINSEC!

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