Friday, May 25, 2012

Did You Know a Hunger Strike Can Label You a Terrorist in the USA?

Brian Willson tries too late to get out of the way of oncoming train.
1n 1986, the FBI declared Vietnam Veteran (Air Force Captain) turned activist, and attorney, Brian Willson a domestic terrorist. Why? Because, after witnessing the carnage, resulting from Reagan’s policies of destruction and wonton murder in Nicaragua and El Salvador, he and Vietnam veterans, George Mizo, founder of the Vietnam Friendship Village Project near Hanoi (and in US) for Vietnamese victims of the US War against Vietnam, mostly Agent Orange victims, including the birth-deformed offspring of chemically effected parents, Charlie Liteky, a Catholic chaplain who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving the lives of over 20 of his comrades who had come under heavy fire, and World War II veteran Duncan Murphy participated in a “water-only” hunger strike on the steps of the Capitol building for 47 days protesting Reagan's illegal aid to fund Contra paramilitary activities seeking to overthrow the sovereign Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

On June 27, 1986, the International Court of Justice formally ruled that the United States had intervened by "training, equipping, financing and supplying the contra forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against" the Republic of Nicaragua, and had used "force" by "certain attacks on Nicaraguan territory," violating "sovereignty" by "authorizing overflights of Nicaraguan territory" while interrupting "peaceful maritime commerce." The Court declared that the US was "under a duty immediately to cease and refrain from all such acts" and "to make reparation to the Republic of Nicaragua for all injury caused to Nicaragua by the breaches of obligations under customary international law enumerated" herein. (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Merits, Judgment 27 June 1986 (I.C.J. Reports 1986, p. 14).

Brian Willson,  committed to non-violent struggle, non-violent tactics, and a non-violent way of life had no idea that the FBI had labeled him a terrorist. A year after the hunger strike, in the summer of 1987, two veterans and Wilson decided to go to Concord Naval Base in California to protest, once again, Reagan's policies of destruction. The men started a 40-day hunger strike on the three mile span of tracks where a 5-mile an hour train transports loaded munitions from the bunkers to the ships, in Reagan’s attempt to overthrow a revolutionary government in Nicaragua and stop protests in El Salvador.

The three men knew, or thought they knew, the protocol - $5,000 fine and one year in jail – for dealing with protesters who block the munitions. After all, the naval base had a history of hosting protesters, without casualties, dating back to the 1960s.

So, on September 1, 1987, never expecting the train to exceed the 5 mph speed limit, three times over, to 17 mph, Wilson was sitting on the tracks as the train approached. He tried to escape the oncoming train, with two train-spotters looking straight at him. He failed. Four days later he awoke to find himself with no legs, one ear missing, 19 broken bones, a fractured skull, and a case of retrograde amnesia, leaving him with no memory of the event. The other two men barely escaped as they were standing at the time of the oncoming train. 40 people, five photographers and one videographer, documenting the hunger strike, witnessed the incident, capturing it on camera. Despite the abundant evidence, the military claimed it did not know the men were on the tracks.

The amazing thing about Brian Willson is that this horrendous attempt to take his life made him even more determined to "stand up" to the all powerful military industrial complex, strengthening his identity with millions of unnamed victims of U.S. policy around the world.

Rejected by 33 publishers, Mr. Wilson finally found a publisher for his book, “Blood on the Tracks: The Life & Times of S. Brian Willson”.
"We are not worth more, they are not worth less." This is the mantra of S. Brian Willson and the theme that runs throughout his compelling psycho-historical memoir. Willson's story begins in small-town, rural America, where he grew up as a "Commie-hating, baseball-loving Baptist," moves through life-changing experiences in Viet Nam, Nicaragua and elsewhere, and culminates with his commitment to a localized, sustainable lifestyle.
Decorated Vietnam veteran George Mizo (lower left),
sits on the east steps of U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.,
An Important Lesson - by George Mizo
You, my parents, taught me that it was wrong to kill . . . except in war.
You, my church, taught me that it was wrong to kill . . . except in war.
You, my teachers, taught me that it was wrong to kill . . . except in war.
You, my government, taught me that it was wrong to kill . . . except in war.

Then you sent me to war
And when I had no choice . . . except to kill,
Then you told me I was wrong!

And now I will tell you . . . my parents.
. . . my church.
. . . my teachers.
. . . my government.
It is not wrong to kill . . . except in war.
It is wrong to kill period!

And this you have to learn . . .
Just as I had to!

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