Monday, November 5, 2007

North Carolina: Protesters Slam CIA, Say, "Stop the Smithfield Torture Flights"

By Kosta Harlan
November 2007

Protesters make their way through downtown Smithfield, chanting, “Justice, peace and human rights! End the Smithfield torture flights!”

Smithfield, NC - Around 250 demonstrators rallied here, Oct. 27, to protest the war in Iraq and demand an end to the ‘torture taxi service’ run by Aero Contractors out of the Johnston County airport. Activists with the North Carolina Stop Torture Now coalition and independent journalists have documented that the CIA has moved hundreds of detainees through the rural Johnston County airport. The airport forms a link in the chain of the transportation of so-called ‘extraordinary rendition’ suspects on their way to be tortured, and sometimes killed, in secret prisons outside of the United States.

“The purpose of the protest is a peaceful witness against the ongoing evil of torture which has been perpetuated by the people and planes behind that fence,” said Roger Ehrlich of North Carolina Stop Torture Now. “This shameful activity is harming America and the world and must be stopped.”

The protesters marched through downtown, where they were met by a small group of the Gathering of Eagles, an extremely reactionary grouping that has in recent months unsuccessfully attempted to intimidate and silence the progressive and popular movements. The march was followed by a rally, in the course of which numerous speakers representing a broad alliance of anti-war, faith and student groups called for an end to the ;extraordinary rendition’ program and an end to the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Smithfield, North Carolina to protest the CIA’s ‘extraordinary rendition’ program and use of torture flights out of the local Johnston County airport.

Iraq Veterans Against the War member Jimmy Massey said, “The protest today shows the solidarity of the community. I’ve been in this movement since the time I was discharged from the Marines in 2003 and seen this movement grow. There is change now even in small-town America, here in rural Smithfield, North Carolina.”

At the end of the rally, a procession to the Johnston County airport took place, where demonstrators placed photographs of tortured ‘extraordinary rendition’ detainees on the airport’s security fence. The organizers of the demonstration promised to continue their struggle to end the torture flights through Smithfield.

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