How many MPs will vote against the Bill?
Giorgio Riva, Payday, Letter to The Independent (unpublished), 17 April 2006,
Malcolm Kendall-Smith is sentenced to eight months for refusing what he considered illegal orders. At the same time section 8 of the Armed Forces Bill 2006 prescribes “up to life imprisonment” for soldiers like him who refuse “military occupation of a foreign country or territory” (Armed Forces Bill attacks our rights, 14 April).
In contrast, the offence of “cruel or indecent conduct“ of Iraqi civilians carries a maximum sentence of two years.
Such a militaristic double standard is a slap in the face of the millions – within and outside of the military – who oppose this war and occupation. In the last few days our online petition to scrap Section 8 has gathered signatures from at least 13 countries - from Argentina to the US – highlighting the international outrage this measure has provoked.
How many MPs will represent this growing opposition when the Bill has its third reading in the Commons?
Armed Forces Bill
attacks our rights
The proposed Armed Forces Bill introduces a 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. It's 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 Defence Secretary is urging that the Geneva Convention be rewritten to legalise pre-emptive military action.
The actions of this Government never cease to amaze me for their arrogance towards our hard-won rights and freedoms.
Conscientious objectors in the firing line
As defence secretary John Reid urges that the Geneva conventions be rewritten to legalise pre-emptive military action (Response, April 5; Letters, April 6), the government is introducing legislation which would impose harsh penalties on soldiers who refuse to take part in military occupations. Section 8 of the armed forces bill 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.
The bill is a clear
attack on the growing movement within the military. The number of soldiers
absconding from the army has trebled since the invasion of Iraq. The bill
contravenes the Nuremberg charter, which enshrined in international law
the responsibility each of us has to refuse to obey illegal and immoral
orders from any government. We are outraged that this violation of the
human rights of soldiers - and in particular of their right to
conscientious objection - is proceeding through parliament without any