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Nun begins prison sentence after protesting US torture
Sr. Lil Mattingly, a 63-year-old Maryknoll Sister of Maryknoll, NY, will report to Connecticutís Danbury Federal Prison
tomorrow, March 15, to begin serving a 90-day sentence for her act of nonviolent civil disobedience opposing the controversial US Armyís School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC). †
Sr. Mattingly is one of eleven people arrested at Fort Benning in November of 2004 who will report to federal prisons around the country on Tuesday to serve sentences ranging from three to six months.
The SOA, now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC, is a military training school located at Fort Benning where over 60,000 Latin American security personnel have been trained in courses including counterinsurgency, psychological warfare and interrogation techniques.†
Graduates of the school have been consistently
linked to human rights violations and to the suppression of popular movements in Central and South America.
ìMy co-defendants and I will be in prison while the SOA/ WHINSEC and its graduates ñ including those who murdered my sisters in El Salvador and tens of thousands of others across Latin America ñ continue to operate with complete impunity,î stated Sr. Mattingly.
Sr. Mattingly was among more than 16,000 gathered at the gates of Fort Benning, home of the SOA/ WHINSEC, on November 20-21 to call for the closure of the school. At the culmination of a solemn ìfuneral processionî memorializing the victims of graduates of the school, fifteen people, including Sr. Mattingly, peacefully crossed onto the military base. Since protests against the SOA/ WHINSEC began fifteen years ago, more than 180 people have served prison sentences of up to two years for nonviolent civil disobedience.
Last week Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced a bill to the House of Representatives calling for the closure and investigation of the SOA/WHINSEC. The bill was introduced with more than 70 bi-partisan co-sponsors.
SOA Watch, founded in 1990, is a national, grassroots, faith- and conscience-based organization committed to nonviolence.† SOA Watch has held a demonstration at the main entrance to Ft. Benning each November since 1990 calling for the closure of the training facility.