School for Assassins opponent held at border
October 26, 2001 | Page 2
ON NOVEMBER 16-18, tens of thousands of activists will gather for the annual protest against the U.S. Army's training camp for terrorists.
The School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., has a long and grim record of training Latin America's dictators and military thugs in the latest techniques of torture and repression.
But U.S. officials don't want anyone speaking out against these terrorists. And they're using the crackdown that followed the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., to silence their critics.
On October 10, Hendrik Voss and Eric LeCompte of School of the Americas (SOA) Watch were stopped by Canadian border guards on their way to meetings to organize for the November demonstrations.
After their car and belongings were searched and their FBI records checked, the two were denied entry into Canada. Coming back into the U.S., Voss, a German citizen, was arrested by immigration officials and told he would be deported. All for the crime of speaking out against the Pentagon's terrorism.
Voss was only released after hundreds of people began organizing solidarity vigils and a campaign to pressure the German consulate.
After his release, HENDRIK VOSS spoke to Socialist Worker's NICOLE COLSON.
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WHEN WE drove back through to the U.S. border, I got singled out and brought to a back room. The border patrol officers were asking me mostly questions with a political background--where did I learn about the School of the Americas, and did I come to the United States to protest. From the beginning, it was very obvious that they were only looking for political stuff.
Then at one point, I heard them talking about solidarity work that was underway from the outside. Because on the outside there were people who were contacting Congress members and religious leaders to make some pressure for me.
It was very clear that this pressure showed results. People from as far away as Germany called the German consulate in San Francisco to see what they would do to secure my release. Later, they said that sometimes they couldn't make out calls because there were too many coming in about me!
It was awesome to see the solidarity--and to know that it actually works.
I think it's more important than ever to continue to protest because of the "homeland security" and this "war against terrorism" that the Bush administration is pursuing right now. They're attacking civil liberties in the United States, just as civil liberties have been attacked by graduates of the School of the Americas in Latin America over the last 60 years.
It's the people who speak out politically in Latin America who are met by the forces trained by the United States Army at the SOA in Fort Benning.
We have to close this school of terrorism in the United States' own backyard.