November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.
A Note from Camilo Mejia and Iraq Veterans Against the War
Show Support for Kevin Benderman
July 25, 2005
To all activists and Peace and Justice organizations, I want to say that it truly is a scary thing to say "no" to the military. Realizing our opposition to war, as members of the armed forces, is only the beginning of a long road to resistance, a road that in the end╩many choose not to follow. Many service men and women strongly oppose the war but choose to take their chances in combat because they're╩that afraid to stand up to military authority and say╩"I will not fight╩this war."╩My heart goes out to those military personnel, especially to those who decide to speak out once they're back from the war. But, I must say, as long as there are people who for one reason or other continue to fight, there will be war.
Kevin Benderman has decided to put his weapon down and refuse to fight the war. He is a conscientious objector who never missed a day of duty in more than ten years of service, and he is being tried by a general court-martial, which could award him up to seven years of prison time. Given my court-martial, as well as that of Pablo Paredes', both special court-martials that could not award more than twelve months of jail, it seems to me that the military, and the government, are upping their viciousness in their persecution of innocent conscientious objectors, like Kevin Benderman. Sadly, it also seems to me that the antiwar movement is lowering its support for conscientious objectors.
People, Kevin is facing up to seven years and╩HE HAS COMMITTED╩NO CRIME. How can we consider ourselves antiwar while leaving people like Kevin, and his family, alone and without support? Again, I will say again, and again, we can have all the rallies and demonstrations we want to have, and we can have all the self-congratulating events we want, to celebrate our "victories," and we can have all the conventions and peace workshops we want to have, BUT, as long as people in the military continue to participate in this illegal occupation╩THERE WILL CONTINUE TO BE A WAR. ╩
Every organization working for Peace and Justice should be activating their chapters and contacts in the Hinesville/Savanna, GA area. Every organization should have something on their websites inviting and encouraging people to attend the trial or to help in other ways. Every Peace and Justice organization should have a link to the Bendermans' website, www.bendermandefense.org╩Every organization that does fundraising to stop the war should be sending at least one representative to Fort Stewart to stand with the Bendermans. It is the very least we can do if we are truly committed to Peace.
Below are directions to a house the Bendermans have made available for activists from out-of-area to stay (bring sleeping bags and see file attached if you can't view the map). People who like their privacy, and have the money to pay for it, can find cheap hotels in the Hinesville area (see http://hotel-guides.us/georgia/hinesville-ga-hotels.html).
Organizations may reply to this E-mail once they have identified members (and their information)╩who can attend and participate in public events in Hinesville. Once we know how many people are coming we can arrange speaking events and media coverage, which may be conducted at the address below. ╩
Also, we need people who can write and who have media contacts to start writing and publicizing the Benderman trial. One good source of information is their website.╩ Please, don't wait any longer to take action, every day we wait is a day of senseless massacre in Iraq. Kevin Benderman stands for Peace and Justice, let's stand with him, when it matters.
Camilo E. Mejia
Former Prisoner of Conscience
he map below shows the exit on I-95, which is for 84/38 West.╩ Take that into Hinesville when it has been joined by 196. At the main road that leads into Ft. Stewart, 196 will turn right off of 84/38.╩ Follow 196 at that right turn and stay in the left lane. (Flash Foods on corner, and Checkers Fast Food on opposite corner.)╩ You will cross over S. Main St. and get into the left turn lane for the next intersection which will be EG Miles Pky.╩(196 W.)╩ Follow 196 to the left onto EG Miles.╩ Take that road for 2 1/2 miles through the intersection with Frank╩Cochran (a side entrance road for Ft. Stewart.)╩ 1/4 mile after that light, Strickland Road will be on the left (3 streets down.)╩ Liberty Tire is on the opposite side and Grist Equipment is on the far corner of Strickland.╩ This is a very small road and can easily be missed. Turn left onto Strickland and our house is about 4 lots down on the right side.╩ Two houses together, one beige, one white.╩ ╩
Camilo's previous letter:
As you probably already know, Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman is being tried by a general Court-Martial on July 28, in Fort Stewart, Georgia, and he is facing up to seven years in prison. Upon returning from the war in Iraq, Sgt. Kevin Benderman applied for Conscientious Objection status. While in Iraq, Sgt. Benderman saw " ... war destroy civilians, innocent men, women and children. He saw war destroy homes, relationships and a country. He saw this not only in the country that was invaded, but he saw this happening to the invading country as well – and he knew that the only way to save those soldiers was for people to no longer participate in war." (See www.bendermandefense.org).
The Army has decided to charge Sgt. Benderman with desertion and missing movement, even though he has never missed a day of duty in more than ten years.
The charge of larceny was also added because Kevin received combat pay without having deployed. But it was demonstrated during an Army investigation that the pay had been an error by the finance department, and that seven other soldiers in Sgt. Benderman's unit had received the same pay by mistake. The Army decided to proceed with the bogus charge.
Iraq Veterans Against the War would like to join forces with other organizations to support Sgt. Benderman during his Court Martial. Peace and Justice Coalition groups should be activated in response to the military's relentless persecution of Conscientious Objectors. The best way to show your support is by attending the trial and participating in any rallies and or activities in support of the Bendermans. But also by announcing the trial and requesting support through your websites and publications.
The town immediately outside of Fort Stewart is Hinesville, Georgia. To get there by car, take Interstate I 95 and get off at exit 75, then follow route 84 to Hinesville. You may also take a Greyhound bus directly to Hinesville, Georgia. The nearest airport and train stations are in Savanna, Georgia, which is only an hour drive. For a list of hotels in the Hinesville area, please visit: http://hotel-guides.us/georgia/hinesville-ga-hotels.html
For those of you living in the Hinesville/Savanna area, we need to know if you would be willing to open your house to out-of-area activists, and if you may also provide some food and transportation. You (if you may help with local housing,food,and transportation only) would need to reply to this e-mail either directly or through your organization (preferribly through your organization). Your name, location (including phone # and E-mail), organization (if any), and type of help you may provide, would be placed in a data sheet, and depending on the number of activists attending you may or may not get a call.
Start making up signs and banners for vigils, demonstrations, and other possible activities. They may include the name of your organization, plus, "Support Kevin Benderman" Or simply "Free Kevin Benderman," or any other ideas you may have along those lines. Thank you in advance for your continuous support and for your dedication to Peace and Justice. Let us come together in support of this Conscientious Objector, and to show our opposition to this crime against humanity, that is the occupation of Iraq.
In Solidarity and Sincerely,
Camilo E. Mejia
Former Prisoner of Conscience
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