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Loyola University New Orleans sponsors Martyrs’ Week

Loyola press release - November 16, 1999

(New Orleans)—A group of thirty students, staff, and faculty at Loyola University New Orleans will participate in a witness vigil with a projected gathering of 10,000 people from across the country at Fort Benning, Georgia, on November 19-21. Along with representatives from all twenty-eight Jesuit universities and colleges in the United States, the Loyola group will travel to the School of the Americas for the annual gathering to support and honor the thousands of innocent people who have suffered and died at the hands of graduates of this United States Army sponsored training facility for Latin American military.

This year’s assembly marks the tenth anniversary of the brutal massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her fifteen year old daughter in El Salvador. The United Nations Truth Commission report confirmed that nineteen of the twenty-six officers responsible for these killings were trained at the SOA. The facility has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in combat tactics, military intelligence, psychological operations, and other warfare tactics which have been used to target civilians. SOA has been dubbed the "School of the Assassins" by a Panamanian newspaper. Legislation to close the school is pending the United States Congress.

A Martyrs’ Peace Vigil will be held at Loyola’s Peace Quad on November 18th, beginning at 7:30 p.m. This event will commission those members of the University community traveling to the witness at Fort Benning. Students, staff, and faculty unable to make the trip will participate in a vigil of support and prayer throughout the weekend in the University’s St. Ignatius Chapel. The public is invited to join this prayer vigil on Thursday night to learn more about the urgent need for the United States to end our country’s affiliation with severe human rights violations in Latin America.