Urge Your Members of Congress to Call on State Department to Denounce Intimidation of Human Rights Defenders

Last week, School of the Americas (SOA) graduate and Honduran military Colonel German Alfaro made outrageous accusations against a leading U.S. human rights defender, Annie Bird, Co-Director of Rights Action, which is based in Washington, DC. Alfaro declared that the military is investigating Annie for alleged subversive activities with campesinos, including filing false reports about military abuses of human rights. One of the Honduran newspapers, La Tribuna, picked up the story and even ran a picture of Annie, putting her at further risk.* The allegations are completely trumped-up and dangerous given the pattern of violence in Honduras, of which Alfaro himself is a propagator. Please email your Members of Congress and the State Department to demand that they forcefully denounce this attack on Annie Bird and other human rights defenders.

Honduras is in crisis right now, as rampant fraud in the recent elections has allowed the current regime to continue the violence and intimidation against Honduran and U.S. human rights defenders. The Aguan Valley is an area where well over 100 campesino activists have been murdered, many by the military, police, paramilitary, and private security guards. This latest attack is part of a concerted campaign to discredit and intimidate international human rights advocates in Honduras. Just a few weeks ago, the SOA Watch electoral delegation to Honduras was impeded from reaching the Indigenous Lenca community of Rio Blanco. More information on that incident can be found here.

It is especially vital that the State Department speak out given that the targeting of a U.S. citizen was carried out by a leading member of the US-funded and trained Honduran military, who himself received training at the School of the Americas. Ask your Congressperson and Senator to contact the State Department and U.S. Embassy now.

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*La Tribuna, “Estamos investigando denuncia que una norteamericana desestabiliza en el Aguán”: http://www.latribuna.hn/2013/12/12/estamos-investigando-denuncia-que-una-norteamericana-desestabiliza-en-el-aguan/

Contact us

SOA Watch
PO Box 4566
Washington, DC 20017

phone: 202-234-3440
email: info@soaw.org

SOA Request for Letters to Nashua Chantal

On Sunday, November 18, 2012, while thousands stood vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, Nashua Chantal crossed over the fence onto the military base to protest the continued training of soldiers at the School of the Americas.

On March 13, Nashua was sentenced to 6 months in federal prison by Judge Stephen Hyles, highlighting the political nature of the trials with the imposition of the maximum allowable sentence. We will continue to speak out for justice, and return to the gates of Fort Benning from November 22-24, 2013!
Nash has been transferred, this time to FCI Jesup in his home state
of Georgia.

His mailing address is:

Robert Chantal #92461-020
FCI Jesup
Federal Correctional Institution
2680 301 South
Jesup, GA 31599

Here are some tips for writing to SOA Watch Prisoners of Conscience:
http://www.soaw.org/about-us/pocs/150-articles/3578-tips-for-writing-to-prisoners

Nashua expects to remain in Jesup until his release date of September 11, 2013.
He is in good spirits and has much better access to outdoor facilities. He again is
asking for letters and reading material and will be very grateful for whatever you
can send. Paperback books can be sent to him, but only if sent directly from the
publisher or booksellers (AKPress.org, etc.).

Peace and struggle,

Hendrik Voss
SOA Watch
202-234-3440


 Tips For Writing To Prisoners

  • Always send your card in an envelope;
  • Include a return name and address on the envelope;
  • Be chatty and creative: send photos from your life, drawings;
  • Tell prisoners what you are doing to close the SOA/ WHINSEC;
  • Don’t write anything that might get the prisoner into trouble;
  • Think about the sort of thing you’d like to receive if you were in prison;
  • Don’t begin, “You are so brave, I could never do what you have done”;
  • Don’t expect the prisoner to reply;

One of the main problems that puts people off getting involved in supportingprisoners is a feeling of being intimidated about writing to a prisoner forthe first time. It is very hard to write a letter to someone you don’t know:people find that they don’t know what to say, they feel there are thingsthey can’t talk about, or think that prisoners won’t be interested in whatthey have to say. Well this is a problem most of us have had to get over,so we’ve drawn up some suggestions to help you. Obviously these aren’trigid guidelines, different people will write different letters, but hopefullythis will be of some use.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Some prisons restrict the number of letters a prisoner can write or receive, and theymay have to buy stamps and envelopes: and prisoners aren’t millionaires. So don’tnecessarily expect a reply to a card or letter. A lot of prisons allow stamps or ans.a.e to be included with a card or letter, but some don’t. Letters do also getstopped, read, delayed, ‘diverted’. If you suspect a letter has been or will benicked by the screws, you can send it Recorded delivery, which unfortunatelycosts a lot but then they have to open it in the prisoner’s presence.

Also you should put a return address, not just so the prisoner canreply (!), but also because some prisons don’t allow letters without areturn address.

WRITING FOR THE FIRST TIME

  • Say who you are, and if it’s relevant, say what group you are from
  • Say where you heard about them and their case.
  • The first letter can be reasonably short, maybe only a postcard.
  • Obviously when you get to know people better you’ll have more to talk about.

Some people are afraid to talking about their lives, or what they are up to,thinking this may depress people in prison, especially prisoners with long sentences,or that they are not interested in your life.

Although in some cases this may be true, on the whole a letter is the highpoint ofthe day for most prisoners. Prison life is dead boring, and any news that livens it up,whether it’s about people they know or not, is generally welcome. Especially ifyou didn’t know them before they went to prison, they want to know about you,what your life is like, what you do, etc. Use your sense, don’t write aboutanything that is likely to get a prisoner in trouble with the prison authorities,or get you or anyone else in trouble with the police.

THEY’RE IN THERE FOR US, WE’RE OUT HERE FOR THEM

For people imprisoned from our movements and struggles it’s vital to keep them involved in theongoing resistance – telling them about actions, sending them magazines if they want them,discussing ideas and strategies with them.

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