PHILADELPHIA - Louisiana alumnus Father Roy Bourgeois, Maryknoll Missionaries, and School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their sustained nonviolent witness against the disappearances, torture, and murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians-- peasants, community and union organizers, clerics, missionaries, educators, and health workers-- by foreign military personnel trained at U.S. taxpayer expense at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The candidacy of Father Roy and SOA Watch for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize has been officially submitted to the Nobel Committee in Oslo, Norway by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), itself a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The official announcement was made by AFSC representative John Meyer at the gates of Fort Benning (home of the School of the Americas) during the annual November vigil to close the SOA.

"We are deeply honored, and deeply humbled, to be nominated for this prize for peace," commented Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient and a Catholic priest, who helped found SOA Watch. "This nomination is a recognition of the work of the thousands struggling against militarism across the Americas."

SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement that works through creative protest and resistance, legislative and grassroots media work to stand in solidarity with the people of Latin America, to close the School of the Americas (renamed WHINSEC, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy that institutions like the SOA/ WHINSEC represent.

Last November, SOA Watch gathered by the thousands at the gates of Ft. Benning to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the killings of 14-year-old Celia Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos, and the six Jesuit priests she worked with at the Central American University in San Salvador in November 1989. Human rights defenders from Colombia and Bertha Oliva, founder of human rights organization COFADEH, Committee of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras, which has been actively resisting the SOA graduate-led coup as part of the resistance front.

Currently, Fr. Bourgeois and the SOAW are protesting in Bogotà, Colombia, over a leaked document that the US is not only planning to use bases in Colombia against drug interests and rebels, but also against anti-American governments in the region.  More on the SOAW can be read here.

The American Friends Service Committee is a practical expression of the faith of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Committed to the principles of nonviolence and justice, it seeks in its work and witness to draw on the transforming power of love, human and divine.


This is a submitted article.  Send your press releases and articles on UL, the UL District, and quality of life in Acadiana-- particularly education & culture-- to ultoday.com by clicking here.