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Brad Will: Vigil and hunger strike for justice in Mexico

Update: Spoke via telephone to a hunger-striker, Robert Jereski at 10:48am, Thursday morning. He reports: This is the beginning of the third day of the hunger strike. They are doing okay. Senator Clinton knows they are there, but has not responded. So, please do call. People have joined the vigil. Many people came by and took fliers to post at their work. Some people who passed by today reported that they faxed Hillary Clinton yesterday. Robert feels that this can be a transformative moment in US foreign policy.

Update: October 22nd, Day #2 of a 4-Day Vigil and Hunger Strike

CALL  U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton at her office (212) 688-6262 (see talking points/demands, below) Harry Bubbins (hunger-striker) reports that she was in the office this a.m. You don’t have to live in NY to make this crucial phone call!

Stop by the vigil at 780 Third Ave (between 48th & 49th St.) Manhattan

Friends of Brad Will are in their 2nd day of a 4-day round-the-clock vigil and Hunger Strike at Sen. Hillary Clinton’s office (no food, no drink, no water)

Remembering Brad Will (b.1970-d.2006)
New York journalist assassinated in Oaxaca, Mexico by right-wing paramilitary death squads

Friends of Brad Will, including human rights advocates Robert Jereski and Harry Bubbins, will be engaging in a 4-day vigil and fast as part of an international “Week of Action and Remembrance” of our friend Brad Will, to call attention to the Mexican government’s cover-up of the U.S. journalist’s murder and in opposition to Senator Hillary Clinton’s support for U.S. funding for Mexico’s military operations under Plan Mexico (the “Merida Initiative”).

The vigil will last for 4 days and nights outside Senator Clinton’s office. It is calling on Sen. Clinton to order protection for witnesses who saw Mexican government paramilitaries shooting at demonstrators, including Brad Will, in Oaxaca, and who are currently being threatened by Mexican Authorities.

Brad Will was assassinated while reporting and filming the 2006 uprising in Oaxaca.  Multiple witnesses say he was shot by right-wing paramilitaries who are seen in photos shooting towards Will. (See photo at http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2008/10/100875.html and also at  http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=19485 )

The Mexican government’s own National Commission for Human Rights issued a report a few weeks ago which declared that the federal and state attorneys general have violated human rights, legality, and judicial security and prevented access to justice in their investigation of Brad Will’s murder. (See this document at http://www.cndh.org.mx/recomen/recomen.asp )

According to Robert Jereski, who is a human rights advocate, former director of the New York City-based International Forum for Aceh and the author of several essays and key articles on the subject, “Plan Mexico is a secret ‘security pact’ supposedly intended to expand the ‘drug war’ in Mexico, but which would provide over a billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer money in the next two years to train and arm the notoriously brutal and corrupt Mexican security forces with deadly equipment, including helicopters and surveillance equipment, and lethal training.

“It is our duty to stand up for human rights in solidarity with the victims of those security forces, and not with the perpetrators of human rights violations,” Jereski continued, explaining that U.S. weaponry and training have been used by Mexican officials to violently repress dissent and leftist and indigenous movements – “the very actions that journalist Brad Will was exposing.

“Plan Mexico is also being opposed by the United Steelworkers union, Global Exchange, and Witness for Peace because it imposes horrendous conditions for workers in Mexico under the pressure of the U.S. government,” Jereski concluded.

And Harry Bubbins, an environmental expert living in the Bronx, adds that “the Jewish magazine Tikkun and Jews for Racial & Economic Justice also oppose Plan Mexico because under the guise of the ‘war on drugs’ it has enabled the unpopular right-wing Mexican President Calderon to appoint members of the anti-semitic El Yunque movement to his cabinet.”

Bubbins explained that the vigil was called for Sen. Hillary Clinton’s office in order to “demand that New York State’s Democratic Party leaders oppose the Bush militarization package bolstering right-wing paramilitaries in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, and declare a new era of cooperation with the peoples of this hemisphere and not with those who abuse human rights.

“We, friends of U.S. journalist Brad Will,” Bubbins said, “are calling on Senator Clinton to help us achieve justice and an end to impunity by Latin American and Caribbean security forces for the murders of Brad Will and many other journalists and labor and indigenous activists. We urge the Senator to oppose the failed neo-conservative security model promoted by President Bush and Mexican President Calderon by speaking out against the Merida Initiative.”

A statement released by the organization, “Friends of Brad Will,” asks “Why has Senator Clinton ignored the murder of a U.S. journalist by Mexican government-backed paramilitaries? Why has she said nothing about the cover-up and false arrests by Mexican State and Federal civilian authorities? And why has she agreed to fund additional lethal training and armaments to Latin American governments which routinely target their own civilians, especially labor and indigenous rights activists? Is this how she honors the life of a U.S. citizen who lived and worked in New York?”

A press conference was held in front of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s Manhattan office on Tuesday, October 21, to kick-off the vigil, fast, and week of action and remembrance. Special thanks to La Jornada and the Mexican Associated Press for showing up, as well as a number of U.S. media. Please send along any stories about this that you come across.

DEMANDS

1) That Hillary Clinton issue a public statement demanding the protection of the witnesses to Brad’s murder, the arrest of the government agents on film shooting at him, and a public statement opposing the Merida Initiative (Plan Mexico).

2) Arrest the REAL Killers. When Brad was killed, the people photographed firing guns at the protesters were police, police commanders, and operatives and bodyguards for the PRI party. We demand their arrest.

3) Drop False Charges, Release Political Prisoners. Since Brad’s death, Ulises Ruiz’ government has been attempting to bring charges for Brad’s killing against Brad’s friends, APPO people, witnesses, and those who risked their lives trying to get Brad to a hospital. We join the National Commission on Human Rights, and Reporters Without Borders in finding these attempts to be an absurd attempt to divert attention from the real killers. We demand an end to this smokescreen and the punishment of innocent people including Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno and Octavio Perez Perez.

4) Justice for Brad, Freedom for Oaxaca. Brad is only one of dozens of activists, reporters, civilians, and unarmed people killed by the State response to the Oaxacan movement for justice and freedom. Friends of Brad Will not only demands justice for them, but demands what they demand: the end of corrupt brutal rule by Ulises Ruiz.

5) No to Neo-Liberalism. Marcella Sali Grace Eiler, an international solidarity activist working with CIPO, Colectivo Mujer Nueva and with the witnesses of Brad’s death, was found brutally raped and murdered September 26th 2008 in San Jose del Pacifico in the state of Oaxaca. Her death is part of an escalation of violence against women in an era of neo-liberal trade agreements and drug wars. We join in solidarity with the friends and family of Sali and demand an end to NAFTA, CAFTA, and Plan Puebla Panama.

6) No to Plan Mexico. A year almost to the day after Brad was murdered, the Bush Administration announced the Merida Initiative (aka Plan Mexico), providing at least $1.6 billion in US armament, training, and resources to the same police and military forces that killed Brad and many other activists and journalists in Mexico and Central America under the pretense of stopping narco-trafficking. Already the weapons have been used in massacres and repression of activists in Morelos and Chiapas. Along with the AFL-CIO, the United Steelworkers, Tikkun, Wespac, Witness for Peace, Cispes, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, The Friends of Brad Will demand an end to the Merida Initiative.

———————————————–

About the initiators:

Robert Jereski‘s publications include The Conflict in Aceh, and U.S. Interests in Promoting A Free Market, Stability and Human Rights in South East Asia – An Examination of the Context and Impacts of ExxonMobil’s Security Arrangements with the Indonesian Armed Forces, viewable at http://preventconflict.org/portal/main/research/jereski.htm . He was also a 2004 Democratic Party candidate for Congress in New York City’s 14th Congressional District.

Harry Bubbins is a New York City based environmental and human rights advocate who was named the 2001 Bronx Activist of the Year. He has presented at numerous forums from DC to NYC, including Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He has directed a theater piece, “Bush Invades Mexico”, on the impact of United States Latin American policy on human rights in Mexico at the Martin Siegal Theatre of the City University of New York: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79rFpfMYRdo. His most recent performance was featured on Democracy Now! at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RItQbTvKcE

One Response

  1. Corrected link to the disruption of Senator Dodd is at:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RItQbTvKcE

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