Heroes Who Gave Their Lives Fighting for Freedom

A friend, Dick Strong, visited recently and showed me this list of people, many of whom were reported in the mass media, many not. Its a sad list but their lives are worth memorializing.

A Work in Progress

Olga Talamante grew garlic for money
to work in rural development in Argentina.
imprisoned and tortured by the junta –
currently leading a Latina women’s group in San Jose.

Lori Berenson, first sentenced to life
by three hooded judges in Peru.
for having members of the Tubac Maru
stay at her house in Lima.
Now on parole back in Lima until 2015
with a small child, in a hostile neighborhood.

Karen Silkwood dead in a single car accident
engineered by Kerr – McGee
she, a young whistle blower
caught gathering hard evidence
of a truth she knew in her heart.

Ben Linder, building small hydro plants
for villages in Nicaragua,
from Portland, Oregon, rode a unicycle
told stories to the children –
one day, down in a stream bed,
the Contras came for him with rifles.

Chico Mendez, the Brazilian rubber tapper
who protested the rural oligarchy –
shot down at mid day by two pistoleros
before a shocked world community.

Lee Kyung Hae, a Korean Farmer,
who had flown to Geneva to plead for small farmers.
His suicide on police barricades at Can Cun
a heart felt contribution.

Steven Biko, who had quit medical school
to set up cottage industries, clinics and legal aid
for the poor in South Africa,
hauled naked on the floor of a land rover 12 hours
to die on the floor of a prison cell in Pretoria.

Victor Jara who left theater direction to sing for the people,
arrested the day Allende was killed
was taken to the stadium five days later
where they broke his hands and taunted him to sing.
He sang magnificently a song of the popular unity party
before being machine gunned.

Carlos Quiliani, the one demonstrator
killed in Genoa, Italy
where a quarter million people
marched outside the halls of power
herein remembered
Not for the last time.

Amy Biehl working at
the cusp of change in 1993,
murdered randomly in the streets
whose research notes were
used in the new Bill of Rights
for all of South Africa.

Ken Saro-Wiwa Born a Kana speaker in Nigeria
graduating in English in which he wrote
12 children’s books, 5 novels, 8 plays and a book of poems.
He had a publishing house, a grocery, a transport company
and served four commissioner’s jobs before
backing the Ogoni people against Shell Oil
and getting hung by Abacha at the age of 54.

Fern Holland from Bluejacket, Oklahoma
to a Russian hospital, South African squatter camp,
Peace Corps in Numidia, Guinea refugees,
and finally to a women’s center in Iraq
and ultimately passed by a pickup truck
filled with men with AK-47’s, killed
on March 9, 2004 well before sundown.

Margaret Hassan traveled from Ireland
to Iraq at the age of 29, converted to Islam,
married an Iraqi and directed CARE Iraq,
thirty years work in clinics and water treatment,
who challenged the Americans and championed the Iraqis
but died, and by whose hand ?

Sister Dorothy Stang was from Ohio
who found her ministry in Brazil.
Dealing with slave labor and land conflicts.
After decades, her car was stopped by men with guns.
Taking out her bible, she said “this is my weapon”
and began reading before they began firing.

Rachel Corrie was from Olympia Washington.
She went to Rafah in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinians.
On March 16, 2003 she died in front of a D-9 bull dozer
along side of a young Brit called Tom Hurndall.

Tom Fox found dead in Iraq
after being kidnapped by the Swords of Righteousness.
He was 56 and had grown children,
coming slowly to his calling
to work with Christian Peacemakers
whose concern was the treatment of the Iraqis.
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Pierre Korkie, 56, of Dutch/Huguenot background
taught biology and coached cross country running
at South Africa’s elite prep school interrupted only to do farm work,
quit the safe life after 23 years
to take his family to Yemen to teach the poor,

They were loved by village Muslims for four years
but he was kidnapped by Al Queda for ransom
and died in a botched rescue attempt by U.S. seals
trying to free an American journalist December 6, 2014.

Edwin Chota, 53, a Peruvian Indian from jungle low lands,
How he learned Spanish and become President of the
Central Union of Autonomous Workers and demanded
schools, clinics and birth certificates was part of it.

It was protection of old growth hardwoods
and education by NGO’s that really
put him on the world stage and attracted
pirate loggers linked with drug traffickers.

On September 1, 2014 he was shot with three supporters
in front of a terrorized village on the Brazilian border.
Their four widows, with babies in arms, attended
the UN conference on global warming in Lima this month
and brought their message to the UN global warming conference

Compiled by Richard Strong 2003-2014

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