The reams and reams of mildewed police documents, tied in messy bundles and stacked from floor to ceiling, look on first sight like a giant trash heap. But human rights investigators are calling it a treasure hidden in plain sight.
In Guatemala, a nation still groping for the whole truth about decades of state-sponsored kidnapping and killing, the documents promise a trove of new evidence for the victims, and perhaps the last best hope for some degree of justice.
Last summer, authorities from the Guatemalan human rights ombudsman's office, searching a munitions depot here, discovered what appear to be all the files of the National Police, an agency so inextricably linked to human rights abuses during this country's 36-year civil conflict that it was disbanded as part of the peace accords signed in 1996.
At that time, President Alvaro Arzu's government, struggling to usher this country through an uncertain transition from war to peace, denied to a truth commission that police files existed. It now seems clear, human rights investigators say, that Mr. Arzu's government, as well as those that followed, knew about the files all along.
The above is from Ginger Thompson's "Guatemala's Secret Police Files May Hold Clues to Atrocities" in this morning's New York Times and it's rare for the Times to have such a strong topic to cover on a Monday.
Eli found something on Katherine Jashinski (whom Brad highlighted Thursday), Paul Rockwell's "Woman GI Takes Stand Against War: Katherine Jashinski's Courage to Resist" (Common Dreams):
On November 17th, at the Front Gate of Fort Benning, Georgia, Army National Guard Specialist Katherine Jashinski announced her opposition to war and refused deployment to Iraq. She became the first women conscientious objector of the Iraq war to make a public statement against militarism. At her press conference, organized by Iraqi Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, Jashinski described her "slow transformation into adulthood. "
"At age 19 I enlisted in the Guard. Like many teenagers who leave their home for the first time, I went through a period of growth and soul searching....I started to reevaluate everything that I had been taught about war as a child. Because I believe so strongly in non-violence, I cannot perform any role in the military. Any person doing any job in the Army contributes in some way to the planning, preparation or implementation of war. Now I have come to the point where I am forced to choose between my obligation to the Army and my deepest moral values. I will not compromise my beliefs for any reason. I am prepared to accept the consequences of adhering to my beliefs."
Katherine applied for conscientious objector status in 2004. After 18 months of stalling, the Army denied her claim and ordered her to weapons training in preparation for deployment to the Mideast.
Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of the School for the Americas Watch; Aidan Delgado, from Iraqi Veterans Against the War; J.E. McNeil with the Center for Conscience and War; Aimee Allison, Gulf War resister, all spoke at the press conference on Katherine’s behalf.
I talked with Ms. Allison after the event, and she explained the special significance of Katherine's public act of courage.
"I am a military counselor with PeaceOut.Com. I am the only woman counselor out of 20 others, and I routinely get calls and e-mails women who are stationed in Afghanistan and Germany. I know many women who are afraid to speak publicly because they do not want to be harassed. They don't want their families to suffer. And they know the military can destroy a C.O. case."
Zach e-mails to highlight Matthew Rothschild's "Muslim-American Running Back off the Team at New Mexico State" (This Just In, The Progressive):
This was supposed to be Muammar Ali's year at New Mexico State. "Muammar Ali, who led the team with 561 yards rushing, will get even more opportunities," predicted SI.com in its NCAA football preview.
But he has no opportunities now. He's off the team.
On October 9, he "received a message on his phone answering machine at his home that his jersey was being pulled and that he was released," says a letter from his attorney, George Bach, of the ACLU of New Mexico, to the university.
That letter, dated October 25, alleges that Head Coach Hal Mumme engaged in religious discrimination.
"Coach Mumme questioned Mr. Ali repeatedly about Islam and specifically, its ties to Al-Qaeda," the letter states. This made Mr. Ali uncomfortable, it says.
And then, after the team's first game, "despite being the star tailback for several years, Mr. Ali was relegated to fifth string and not even permitted to travel with the team," the letter says.
Be sure to check out Democracy Now! today, either by listening, viewing or reading the transcripts. We only have one entry this morning. That's because Mia found an important highlight but it can't go up without some comment from me or the e-mails will pour in asking why I didn't say something. I've spoken on this topic already (here and at the gina & krista round-robin). It's an important topic. But addressing it this morning, trying to, has resulted in over forty paragraphs, none of which I'm pleased with. So we'll note Mia's highlight tonight and I'll comment on it then. I may bring Ava in on it if she's got time.
And let me note one more thing. The site's not going "on vacation." However, Wednesday evening and Thursday will probably be spotty. Ruth's saved her Ruth's Morning Edition Report partly to help me out. So we'll have Ruth and we'll note the Times and Democracy Now!
I'll try to get information on what community sites will be down and on what days. (Elaine will be visiting for Thanksgiving and has already asked if she needs to bring her laptop or not, so she's planning to post.) The Third Estate Sunday Review will be posting next Sunday.
The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com.
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