Section 8 which has hardly been mentioned in the media -- introduces a new tougher definition of desertion: soldiers who intend to avoid serving in a military occupation of a foreign country or territory can be imprisoned for life.
This major redrafting of military law has been introduced at a time when the number of soldiers absconding from the British Army has trebled since the invasion of Iraq a clear attack on the growing movement of men and women in the military who refuse to be part of wars, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It contravenes the Nuremberg Charter which enshrined in international law the responsibility that each of us has to refuse to obey illegal and immoral orders from any government. At the same time the UK Defence Secretary is urging that the Geneva Convention be rewritten to legalise pre-emptive military action.
British refuseniks: Ben Griffin, Ray Hewitt, Malcolm Kendall-Smith, George Solomou
Poll after poll has demonstrated overwhelming public rejection of the war and occupation of Iraq. This has been reflected in the actions and views of troops who have refused to go, or go back, to Iraq. Military families, mostly mothers, have campaigned against the killing and maiming of their own loved ones and of the civilian population in Iraq and elsewhere, and demanded that troops be brought back home from a war nobody wants.
We are outraged that Section 8 of this Bill with its blatant violation of the human rights of soldiers and in particular of their right to conscientious objection -- is proceeding quickly through Parliament without any public debate.
Please act now to stop this terrible miscarriage of justice from becoming law.
· See Independent on Sunday, of 19 March 2006 http://www.refusingtokill.net/UKGulfwar2/Soldiersgoingawolhavetrebled.htm
· Nuremberg Charter, Article 8: The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility . . ..
WHAT YOU CAN DO
· If you live in the UK, write to your MP demanding that they vote against Section 8. Find your MP and email her/him using www.writeToThem.com or write to the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA (see model letter below or write your own).
· If you live outside the UK, write to the British Embassy or High Commission to let them know your opposition to Section 8 of the Bill (see model letter below or write your own) and cc email@example.com. Details can be found at http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029395231
· Sign the petition at Petition on Line http://www.petitiononline.com/UKArmedF/petition.html
· Write to the press, newsletters, websites asking them to publicise this attack on human rights.
· Tell all your contacts and networks anti-war, religious, community, trade union - about it. Ask them to contact the British Embassy/High Commission, the press and to sign the petition.
Dear (MPs name)
I understand that the Armed Forces Bill 2006 has now been discussed in the Select Committee and that at the next stage (Third reading) you will have a chance to amend and vote in the Commons.
Section 8 of the Bill introduces a new definition of desertion, according to which soldiers who intend to avoid serving in a military occupation of a foreign country or territory can be imprisoned for life (see Sub-sections 3c, 4a and 5a). This is introduced at a time when the number of soldiers absconding from the British Army has trebled since the invasion of Iraq.
I consider Section 8 to be an attack on the human rights, including the crucial right to conscientious objection, of individuls in the military who refuse to be part of present or future wars, and who have a responsibiity, enshrined in the Nuremburg charter, to refuse to obey illegal and immoral orders. I am outraged that this militaristic Section is going through Parliament, and without public awareness, let alone discussion.
Poll after poll has shown public rejection of the war and the occupation of Iraq. This has been reflected in the actions and views of troops who have refused to go to Iraq and military families who have demanded that the troops be brought back home.
I urge you to object strongly to the introduction of Section 8 by voting against it and urging other MPs to do the same.