August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, June 8, 2007

Fort Huachuca: Protesters unintimidated by spy files and arrests

by Brenda Norrell

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Unintimidated by U.S. spy files on protesters here and the ongoing court case of two priests facing prison for their peace action here, a half dozen protesters returned to Fort Huachuca on Wednesday to protest torture training by the military.

Protesters of Fort Huachuca have been the subject of spy operations by the United States, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The organization "Food Not Bombs," was among those spied on.

The Pentagon labeled Food Not Bombs activists as “threats” for organizing a demonstration at Fort Huachuca in November 2004, the Arizona ACLU said.

Spy operations by the government have focused on peace activists and human rights activists, according to documents obtained by the Freedom of Information Act.

"Since when did feeding the homeless become a terrorist activity?" asked ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson in Washington. "When the FBI and local law enforcement target groups like Food Not Bombs under the guise of fighting terrorism, many Americans who oppose government policies will be discouraged from speaking out and exercising their rights."

Surveillance on human rights groups was carried out by numerous city, state and federal agencies, including the New York Police, who spied on peace activists -- including Quakers, the Sierra Club and attorneys -- throughout the United States prior to the Republican National Convention.

Undaunted, activists in Tucson have accelerated the movement to expose torture carried out by the U.S. in violation of the Geneva Conventions. While two priests prepare for federal court, and possible prison time, others in southern Arizona in the "No More Deaths" campaign are preparing to serve humanity by preventing deaths in the desert.

"No one should die for want of a drink of water," says Mike Wilson, who works in conjunction with Humane Borders. Wilson, Tohono O'odham, puts out water on the Tohono O'odham Nation, where many border crossers die. However, the tribe does not support his efforts, and has enacted a criminal law which prohibits transporting migrants, even those dieing.

Back at Fort Huachuca on Wednesday, the protest of torture training by the military continued. A half dozen human rights protesters gathered across from the military site following the pretrial hearing of two priests in federal court in Tucson, Fr. Louie Vitale and Fr. Steve Kelly, both willing to go to prison to expose torture training of young soldiers at Fort Huachuca. The priests were arrested at Fort Huachuca in November when they asked to speak to soldiers about torture and deliver a letter to the commander. As they knelt and prayed outside the main gate, they were charged with trespass. Kelly joined the protesters across from the military site on Wednesday afternoon.

Bill Quigley, attorney for the priests, described Fort Huachuca's role in Iraq interrogations.

"The Army Field Manual on interrogation (Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual) was written at Fort Huachuca. A number of the officers and soldiers responsible for human rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison have worked at or were trained at the Headquarters for Army Intelligence Training at Ft. Huachuca."

This is not the first time Fort Huachuca has been linked to torture. The School of Americas Watch interviewed personnel at Fort Huachuca Army Intelligence Center while exposing the torture manuals which led to the rape, torture, disappearance and murder of masses in Central and South America in previous decades, including tens of thousands of Indigenous Peoples. The manuals were made public in 1996.

The School of Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, is the focus of continual protests. Military from Central and South America and elsewhere continue to be trained at the site.


BREAKING NEWS: CIA Ran Secret Prisons

"The CIA ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania from 2003 to 2005 to interrogate al-Qaida suspects, a European investigator said Friday, detailing harsh treatment that included months of solitary confinement, shackling and sleep deprivation."

COUNTERPUNCH: Priests face prison for exposing torture in Arizona:

New York Police spy file documents:
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