This Friday the anti-war, anti-torture group School of the Americas Watch will host a "Festival of Hope" for the courageous stand of Buddy Bell, 24, a student who is awaiting a three month prison sentence for nonviolent resistance to the School of the Americas. Buddy has also been a generous contributor of his time to various GLN activities.
The School of the Americas (SOA), in 2001 renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation," is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. Its graduates include a "who's who" of notorious human rights abusers in South and Central America (see http://www.soaw.org/new/article.php?id=205).
In 1996, years before the scandalous news of widespread torture at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, SOA was "outed" by the Washington Post (http://www.soaw.org/new/newswire_detail.php?id=851) for training its students in torture techniques, including use of "how to" manuals describing torture practices. Graduates of SOA have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, "disappeared," massacred, and forced in become refugees by those trained at SOA.
In August 2005 Buddy was among thousands who attended the annual protest against SOA in Georgia. He and 30 others took the additional step of "crossing the line," stepping onto SOA property to resist its illegal promotion of torture and other human rights abuses. For this he was sentenced to three months in prison by a federal judge.
Please join Buddy and his other friends in Schools of the Americas Watch in a "Festival of Hope" featuring music, dancing, food and community.