Just Acts

From time to time, we will use this page to highlight important actions regarding current issues or situations that you should know about.

Nato Expansion Vote

Iraq/Persian Gulf War

School of the Americas Protestors Sentenced

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News has just been posted in my social justice list CINJUST regarding a soon-pending vote in the US Senate to ratify the NATO Expansion Treaty. This is a life-or-death commitment to send US troops to defend the borders of the countries in Eastern Europe, where ethnic factions have been fighting for hundreds of years. The NY Times (March 9) said that this Treaty is "a commitment to use American soldiers and weapons, including nuclear arms, to defend new members in Eastern Europe." The Washington Post (March 8) called it the "most ambitious expansion of US global commitments since the end of the Cold War".

It is a major challenge to President Boris Yeltsin of Russia, and will give much ammunition to his hard-line opponents.

It would seem that the current plans of the administration are to expand NATO beyond its current role. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committy, said that the Treaty ALSO commits us to defending not only borders, but also NATO-defined "interests" elsewhere, including the Middle East and Africa. Contact your Senators and tell them to JUST SAY NO to more US military commitments!!!!!!!

US Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 (1-800-522-6721)

Senate email access: http://www.senate.gov


CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES! If you need their names and addresses, the following link will take you to a nifty little site where you type in your five digit zip code and it responds with the names and addresses of your congressional representatives and senators. Zip Code Congressional Finder

Fr. Labib Kobti, a representative of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the United States, is asking us to write letters to Pope John Paul II to encourage him to go to Iraq in solidarity with those who are at risk from the upcoming U.S. military adventure there. The address is:

H.H. Pope John Paul II -- Apostolic Palace -- Vatican City -- Fax No. 396 6988536

(Note: I have not been able to get anything other than a busy signal at this number.)

Letters could also be sent to the Embassy of the Holy See in Washington, D.C.:

Embassy of the Holy See -- 3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW -- Washington, D.C. 20008 -- Fax: 202-337-4036

Fr. Kobti's website Al-bushra is an excellent source for breaking information about the situation in the Persian Gulf. He also has a mailing list that sends out a half dozen or so messages a day that offer viewpoints on Middle Eastern issues that are not often found in the U.S. media.




25 Receive a Six Month Prison Term and $3,000 Fine!

On November 16, 1997, the 8th anniversary of the massacre of 6 Jesuit priests and 2 women co-workers by US Army School of the Americas (SOA) graduates, 601 people of conscience "crossed the line" onto Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the SOA. Two by two, in a silent liturgical procession, they carried petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures demanding the closure of the SOA. In one of the largest mass arrests in years, military police arrested all 601 participants and confiscated the petitions.

In an attempt to crush the anti-SOA campaign, 25 "repeat offenders" were targeted. They included priests, nuns, ministers, veterans, nurses, teachers and Catholic Workers living with the poor. These are the same professions targeted by SOA graduates in Latin America.

On November 19, 1997, three of the 25 pled "no contest" in a Federal Magistrate Court. Each of the three were sentenced to 6 months in prison and a $3,000 fine. Six months is the maximum penalty for this misdemeanor.

On January 20-21, 1998, following the Martin Luther King Day, the remaining 22 pled "not guilty" and were tried by Federal Judge J. Robert Elliott. A strident segregationist in the 1960s, Elliot, who is 89, issued injunctions forbidding Dr. King's civil rights marches in his District. Ninety percent of Elliott's civil rights decisions during the 1960's were reversed by higher courts.

Judge Elliott sentenced each of the 22 defendants to 6 months in federal prison and a $3,000 fine. Elliot offered each of the defendants the opportunity to waive their fine if they signed an agreement prohibiting them from returning to Ft. Benning. They all declined.

Meanwhile, the SOA graduates responsible for the massacre of thousands, including the Jesuit priests and their coworkers, are granted amnesty and will not spend a single day behind bars.

+ Write and call your members of Congress and urge them to co-sponsor the bills currently before Congress to close the SOA: HR 611 and S980 -- and to support efforts to pardon the SOA Prisoners of Conscience. Zip Code Congressional Finder

+ Write Chief Judge Duross Fitzpatrick and request that he investigate the harsh sentences imposed on the SOA 25 by Judge Robert Elliott and Magistrate William Slaughter and urge a commutation of the sentences.

Chief Judge Duross Fitzpatrick -- US District Court for the Middle District of Georgia -- PO Box 1014 -- Macon, Georgia 31202-1014 fax 912-752-3502