Sunday, November 15, 2009
Fort Huachuca: NO TO US TORTURE
During the vigil to halt US torture, soldiers remove one of five persons who crossed the line into Fort Huachuca Army Intelligence Center, to expose US torture training here. Photo by Brenda Norrell.
Video coverage: http://www.livestream.com/earthcycles
By Brenda Norrell
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. -- Human rights activists protesting torture carried out by the United States marched to the main gate at Fort Huachuca Army Intelligence Center where five crossed into the base and were taken into custody on Nov. 15.
"Rogue assassinations and torture have damaged the soul of our nation and tarnished our image around the world," torture resisters said in a letter to the base.
Arrested were: Joshua Harris, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Mariah Klusmire, Albuquerque; John Heid, Tucson; Fr. Jerry Zawada, Tucson and Fr. Bob Carney, Tucson.
All were released with a letter ordering them not to re-enter the base within the next year. Joshua Harris initially refused to identify himself and was charged under Arizona law with trespass and failure to provide a truthful name when lawfully detained. He was released a couple of hours after the others.
In a letter to the Army base, the human rights activists stated their reasons for the action. "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 execution,' or rogue assassinations in violation of international law," the torture resisters said.
Torture protesters revealed that the torture training manual used by the School of Americas, resulting in the torture and deaths of masses in the Americas in the 70s and 80s, was produced here at Fort Huachuca. The majority of those tortured and murdered were Indigenous Peoples, farmers and villagers.
Further, one military leader responsible for torture in Abu-Ghraib was also a military leader at Fort Huachuca. Major Gen. Barbara Fast, previously at Fort Huachuca, was in charge of interrogations at Abu-Ghraib.
During the vigil and march, torture resisters passed by the offices of CACI International, Inc., one of the intelligence contract profiteers now benefiting from torture and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. CACI hired private interrogators to work at Abu-Ghraib prison, where detainees were routinely tortured by the U.S.
While the peaceful resisters spoke of unconditional love and peace, counter demonstrators yelled and insulted them.
During the Southwest Weekend of Witness to End Torture, torture resisters read the names of those who have suffered US torture and said "Presente!" to each name as they walked.
Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, home of the Predator drone for border surveillance, is located less than one hour north of the US/Mexico border. A Predator drone crashed nearby in the Nogales area in 2006.
The United States has been a major instrument in the proliferation of terror in the world by training assassins at the School of Americas and as special ops. The Zetas of Mexico and Kaibiles of Guatemala were trained originally as US Special Forces before becoming rogue instruments of terror.
The torture resisters carried the following open letter to base personnel and employees:
"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."
Listen to songs and interviews, 15 minutes of excerpts from today:
Photos of the march and torture resisters being taken into custody:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASENovember 16, 2009
Contact in Tucson: Jack or Felice Cohen-Joppa, 520-323-8697
FIVE ARRESTEDAT FORT HUACHUCA DRONE AND TORTURE PROTEST
(Statement and link to photos, below)
More than 150 people rallied against torture on Sunday, November 15, 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. Huachuca.
Photos may be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/FtHuachuca11-15-09
Photo credit: TortureOnTrial.org
An extensive report featuring audio and video from the protest can be found at http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com
For background information see
http://tortureontrial.org, http://southwestwitness.org and http://soaw.org-------