It takes courage to say "no." Here are a few soldiers who have risked everything to stand up and refuse to fight in an illegal war. We need to find ways to support them.
Reposted from: http://www.unitedforpeace.org/
Large numbers are now refusing to serve: The Department of Defense estimates that there are about 8,000 AWOL service members. The GI Rights Hotline (800-394-9544) is currently receiving about 3,000 calls a month.
Iraq War Resisters
It takes courage to say that you will not fight -- especially if you are a soldier. The courage demonstrated by war resisters over the last four years has been a critical part of efforts to end the war in Iraq. As more soldiers step forward for peace, the peace movement must step forward to support them.
Here is a list of war resisters whose cases are still pending (please visit their websites for the latest information and details on how you can help):
A federal appeals court is currently reviewing Army medic Agustín Aguayo's case and considering whether to overturn the Army's decision to deny him conscientious objector status. If Aguayo's appeal is successful, it will be a historic victory; if it fails, Aguayo could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
Darrell Anderson was released from Fort Knox on October 6, 2006, after turning himself into military custody on Oct. 3. He was given an "other than honorable" discharge without facing court martial.
This outcome is what encouraged Kyle Snyder to believe that he had secured a similar deal for a discharge without court martial.
Kevin Benderman served 13 months in an Army prison after being convicted of missing movement in July 2005. He was demoted from sergeant to private and lost all pay. He is appealing that conviction and his pending dishonorable discharge.
While stationed in Iraq, Ivan Brobeck was assigned to security at checkpoints in the city of Mahmudiyah and Fallujah. While in Iraq he witnessed the abuse of Iraqi detainees and the killing of civilians by the United States military. Brobeck completed his seven-month tour in Iraq with his unit and returned to the United States in October 2004. Upon returning from Iraq, he suffered symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and went UA (Unauthorized Absence) in March 2005. In April 2005 Ivan Brobeck fled to Canada to seek sanctuary. On Election Day 2006, Brobeck planned to return to the United States and turn himself in to the custody of the Marines.
Ricky Clousing pled guilty to charges of going absent without leave on October 11, 2006, and was sentenced to three months in jail. He will also receive a reduction in rank, will forfeit two-thirds of his pay while he is in prison, and will receive a bad conduct discharge. His plea allowed him to avoid a much harsher sentence for desertion.
Cliff Cornell, an Arkansas native, was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He joined the Army with the promise from a military recruiter that he would receive a $9,000 sign up bonus and job training. "Ninety per cent of what the recruiters tell you is a pack of lies," says Cornell. "Army recruitment techniques amount to entrapment, targeting young men from poor families." His unit was to be deployed to Iraq just after Christmas. On January 8th, 2005, Cornell arrived in Toronto seeking asylum. He faces charges of desertion and prison if he returns to the U.S.
Dan Felushko is a 23-year-old war resister seeking asylum in Canada. Felushko has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada, so he will be able to stay in Canada, but he faces arrest if he ever returns to the United States.Patrick Hart fled to Toronto on August 21, 2005, after serving 9-1/2 years of active duty in the U.S. military. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from April 2003 to March 2004. "With an impending second deployment, young soldiers were asking me about the war. I didn't have answers, and I didn't want their blood on my hands," he says.
In September 2005, Hart was joined in Toronto by his wife Jill and young son Rian. They are currently awaiting their hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
Jeremy Hinzman fled to Canada in January 2004, and has since been seeking refugee status, which was denied by Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board in March 2005. On March 31, 2006, the Federal Court (Canada) dismissed judicial review of the Board's decision, but granted Hinzman leave to appeal to the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal, which will likely hear his arguments in the spring or summer of 2007. He faces arrest and court-martial if he returns to the U.S. (See below for more information on war resisters in Canada and how to support them.)
Brandon Hughey fled his Army unit before it shipped out to Iraq in March 2003. It was, he says, his obligation to leave. He is now in Canada; his claim for refugee status was rejected in June 2005 and that decision is now being appealed to a Federal Court.
With few job options, at age 22, Ryan Johnson enlisted in the army in November 2003, and went to basic training in March 2004. He had been led to believe by a military recruiter that he would be given a non-combat job, and that he would receive $40,000 for college. He soon learned that these promises were untrue. Johnson crossed the border into Canada with his wife Jenna in June 2005. He faces arrest and court-martial if he ever returns to the U.S.
Joshua Key served eight months in Iraq before going AWOL. He arrived in Toronto in March 2005, with his wife Brandi and their four young children. Asked what led him to desert, he says: "The atrocities that were happening to the innocent people of Iraq. I didn't want to be part of it no more. I came home and I deserted." He faces arrest and court-martial if he ever returns to the U.S.
Robin Long, from Boise, Idaho, served two years as a tanker in the Army, at Fort Knox before he left and went to Canada in June 2005. "I still don't think that Bush has proven we have any reason to be over there, and I would be wrong to be a tool of destruction," he says. On Nov. 30, 2005, he applied for refugee status. He faces arrest and court-martial if he ever returns to the U.S.
Christopher Scott Magaoay deserted the Marines in March 2006, after becoming troubled by instructions he received during training in preparation for deployment in Iraq. He says a senior officer told him not to take responsibility for any civilian deaths in Iraq, whether the Marines caused the deaths or not. He is now in Canada seeking refugee status.
Kyle Snyder had been in Canada for over a year, but recently turned himself in at Fort Knox, thinking he had a deal for discharge from the army without having to face a court-martial. When he got to Fort Knox, the Army said he would have to rejoin his unit at Fort Leonard. Kyle has since gone AWOL again.
Suzanne Swift was sexually harassed and raped by her commanding officers, and is facing court martial and jail time. She is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and is currently confined to Fort Lewis, WA.
Ehren Watada is facing four years in prison for refusing orders to go to Iraq and for speaking out against the war. A charge of "contempt for the President," added after a speech he gave at the Veterans For Peace convention in August, was dropped following public outcry. His court martial hearing is set to begin on Feb. 5, 2007.
Mark Wilkerson turned himself in at Fort Hood, TX, on September 1, 2006, after spending a year and a half AWOL, following the denial of his application for conscientious objector status. He is currently confined to base, awaiting court martial or discharge.
For information on other public war resisters, visit TomJoad.org.More war resistance resources:www.girights.objector.orgwww.couragetoresist.orgwww.centeronconscience.orgWar Resistance in Canada
In 2004, Jeremy Hinzman was denied conscientious objector status by the U.S.Canada to seek refugee status. He was the first U.S. soldier to resist the Iraq war by going to Canada; there are now more than 20 service members who have applied for refugee status. According to War Resisters Canada, at least 200 U.S. service people are currently in Canada, considering filing claims for refugee status, and an unknown number are AWOL in Canada while they decide what to do next. The Canadian immigration board has denied four cases for refugee status, and two cases have been denied on appeal in Canadian federal courts. Since WWII, Canada has been obligated under international law to accept refugees from illegal wars. There are many progressive Canadians and other war resisters from the current and past wars who are ready to help war resisters. military, and went toWar Resisters Canada provides support to U.S. war resisters in the following ways:A place to live, food to eat, money, friends and emotional support. It takes almost 6 months to get a work permit, so war resisters have no way to work legally, to gain access to health care, or to secure permanent housing. Individuals offer short-term and long-term housing. Fundraisers are held to raise legal fees. Legal support. Legal cases are difficult and long. There are many appeals, and so far, no one has yet to be successful in getting Canada to grant refugee status. Working to change refugee laws to welcome and accept U.S. war resisters. A petition gathering effort has begun to change Canadian refugee laws, led by Quakers, Unitarians, and labor unions. War Resisters CA supports Canadian efforts to "hold US feet to the fire" on following international war laws and treaties.
For more information on war resisters in Canada and how to support them, visit: www.resisters.ca/index.htmlSources: Courage to Resist, Veterans For Peace, Tomjoad.org., War Resisters Canada, Wikipedia, and a report compiled by Liz Rivera Goldstein.
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