Friday, October 9, 2009

SOA Watch victory

Congratulations to SOA Watch on its partial Congressional victory.

The U.S. Congress has approved legislative language opposing the negative practices and secrecy at the School of the Americas (SOA), now renamed WHINSEC. The Defense Authorization bill includes
language [that] requires that the Secretary of Defense [to] release the names of students and instructors [at the at the SOA/WHINSEC] but with two clarifications: names are only released for FY 2009 and FY 2010, and the Secretary of Defense can waive this provision should it be deemed to be in the national interest.
SOA Watch writes:

While the release of names for FY 2009 and FY 2010 is a welcome first step, the decision by the conference committee to maintain secrecy about who has attended the SOA/ WHINSEC for the past 4 years raises a red flag about what the Pentagon may be hiding. From FY 2005 to FY 2008, hundreds of serious human rights crimes, including the San José de Apartadó massacre among many others, implicated Latin American military officials throughout the region. The gap in knowledge about what role U.S. military training played in the practices of Latin American militaries for 4 years undermines the pursuit of a just foreign policy by denying the public and Congress the very information they need to make important foreign policy decisions.

In addition, the waiver granted to the Pentagon to deny the release of this vital information in the name of national interest ignores the many reasons why it is in the national interest for public disclosure of SOA/ WHINSEC graduates and instructors. What could be more of a national interest than human rights, democracy and transparency?!

More information on SOA Watch can be found here

Thursday, October 8, 2009

West Papua Report - October 2009

full report here

West Papua Report - October 2009

Summary: Famine continues to kill villagers in a broad swath of the Papuan hinterland. The Government response to the crisis has been to deny that famine is occurring and to provide inadequate assistance to address what it contends is only an outbreak of disease. Respected academics have launched a public discussion of the impact of Indonesia's four-plus decades of control in West Papua and whether its policies there constitute genocide. Papuans continue to call for an internationally mediated, senior-level dialogue with Jakarta about West Papua's past and its future. Demonstrators have urged the release of Papuans arrested for peaceful political dissent. Meanwhile, other activists have been arrested or are facing arrest. An international firm, collaborating with an Indonesian company, has announced plans to transform a vast area of forest near Merauke into wood chips. A South Korean daily has published an account of West Papua's annexation by Indonesia which it describes as a "betrayal" of the Papuans by the international community. Additional evidence has surfaced of the human cost of the Indonesian military's continuing "sweep" operations in the Papuan hinterlands. Confusion reigns in Indonesia's response to months of attacks targeting the operations of PT Freeport and its personnel.