Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tucson Humanitarians on Trial

From nukeresister@igc.org
Memorial Circle, Green Valley - October 7
Photo: Crosses representing migrants who died in Sonoran Desert/Photo at San Xavier by Brenda Norrell
MEMORIAL CIRCLE
Please join migrant advocates and humanitarians on Wednesday, October 7 at 9:30 a.m. for a Memorial Circle to commemorate the lost lives of almost 200 migrants in the last year alone, as they crossed the Mexico/Arizona border. Gather at the southeast corner of N. La Canada Drive and W. La Canoa in Green Valley, Arizona (just east across La Canada from the Green Valley Justice Court at 601 N. La Canada.)
TRIAL
This memorial gathering will precede the 10:30 a.m. trial in Pima Justice Court, 601 N. La Canada, Green Valley, of John Heid and Fr. Jerry Zawada, OFM. The pair were charged with trespass after "refusing to quit praying" at the virtual fence under construction near the U.S./Mexico border on August 6, Hiroshima Day.
John Heid explains:
The 17-tower virtual-fence system called Tucson-1 is the latest addition to a U.S. borderlands enforcement arsenal designed to funnel migrant workers into the most remote, rugged, and deadly terrain of the Sonoran Desert.
Robert Boatright, deputy chief in Border Patrol's Tucson Sector comments: "... the operating system modeled after battlefield needs rather than law enforcement needs makes the system more functional." (Arizona Daily Star, May 13, 2009)
Tucson-1 is no guardian angel of the borderlands, but rather its death specter. Our on site prayer vigil named the system for what it is - a lethal weapon - and we demand its removal. We now take our plea to court.
The courtroom is extremely small and will fit only a handful of people. John and Jerry invite people who would like to support them to hold signs on the sidewalk outside the courtroom during the trial. Bring water and a hat - it could still be hot!
The best support desired is any form of nonviolent public witness that draws attention to and seeks to alleviate the death and suffering resulting from U.S. border policy.
For more information, contact John or Leslie at (520)305-3276 or http://us.mc330.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=leslieak@cox.net.
[Please note that Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Maryknoll priest and founder of School of the Americas Watch, will be speaking on Grassroots Organizing for Justice in Latin America at noon in Tucson. You can come to the Memorial Circle in Green Valley and still make it to First Christian Church in plenty of time for the talk! Please scroll to the bottom of this message for details of the noon talk, as well as Fr. Bourgeois' 7 p.m. talk on women's ordination.]
BACKGROUND INFO AND ACTION STATEMENT:
NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 6, 2009, Noon
Two Arrested in Prayer at Virtual Border Tower Under Construction in Arizona
Two men were arrested this morning during a prayer vigil at a virtual fence communication tower under construction west of Arivaca, in southern Arizona. John Heid, 54, a Quaker with Christian Peacemaker Teams and Fr. Jerome Zawada, 72, a Franciscan priest, had gone to pray at the site out of deep concern for the deaths of migrants resulting from border walls and virtual fences. Shortly after 11 a.m., a Pima County Sheriff's deputy called to the scene arrested both men for trespass. The pair were taken into custody and are being transported to the Pima County Adult Detention Center in Tucson for processing. Fr. Zawada stated today, "For the past 26 years I've come to know and love many of our migrant families who have taught me something of the heart of God. As a Catholic priest and Franciscan friar I feel called to accompany these suffering travelers and work with others who believe in this journey of compassion." John Heid said, "The virtual fence is as lethal as a bomb. It is billed by proponents as more aesthetically pleasing than a traditional fence or wall. It is touted as environmentally friendly, allowing animals to roam freely. Yet it remains undeniably lethal to human beings by forcing people further into remote desert terrain on their journey north. I decry this loss of life. This loss of civility. This loss of sensibility. Construction must be halted. Could not the $100 million being spent on these towers be put to humanitarian use? Humane means of resolving issues such as economic disparity and subsequent migration must be undertaken. Ultimately our own survival alongside that of our southern neighbors depends on cooperation." The pair released the following statement:
"On this, the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, we call for an end to militarization in all its guises. An end to bombs, nuclear and conventional. An end to the use of Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles). An end to walls, fences and their virtual counterparts that divide us and promote fear of each other. An end to war without end.
"This morning we vigil at the gates of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, home of a Predator UAV unit which now flies missions around the clock in Iraq and Afghanistan armed with Hellfire missiles which have killed hundreds of unarmed civilians. We demand an end to the unilateral slaughter.
"This afternoon we vigil at a communication tower, "Tucson-1" (virtual fence) construction sight. Fences and walls, solid and virtual, have funneled people in migration deeper into the harsh, dangerous terrain of the Sonoran desert, resulting in more than 5,000 deaths since 1994.
"These three - bombs, drones and fences/walls - are lethal weapons directed specifically at noncombatants. Cities like Hiroshima, villages in Iraq and Afghanistan and the U.S.-Mexico borderland have been deliberately targeted and violated. These are crimes against humanity. A betrayal of civility. In spiritual terms, a sin.
"Today we pray without ceasing for a world without weapons and fences. We pray for peace, for justice, for unity which makes walls and war obsolete."
For more information about Christian Peacemaker Teams, visit www.cpt.org/
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Fr. Roy Bourgeois is a Vietnam vet, Purple Heart recipient, Roman Catholic priest of the Maryknoll Missionary Order and founder of School of the Americas Watch, who has spent four years in prison for his nonviolent protests. He will give two talks in Tucson on Wednesday, October 7, 2009.
* At noon at First Christian Church, 740 E. Speedway (at Euclid), Fr. Bourgeois will address the topic of:
Grassroots Organizing for Justice in Latin America
Sponsored by Southwest Witness Against Torture, www.southwestwitness.org
* At 7:00 p.m. at First Christian Church, 740 E. Speedway (at Euclid), Fr. Bourgeois will address the topic of:
Women's Ordination
Sponsored by Call to Action, Women's Ordination Conference and Call to Action - Tucson. For more information, contact Laurie Olson at (520)615-0183 or call_to_action_tucson@yahoo.com
$10/person suggested offering per event

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