Briefing on the Armed Forces Bill
“I didn’t join the
British Army to conduct American foreign policy.”
Harry Cohen MP: Subsection 3(c) [military occupation of a foreign country or territory] has the potential to enshrine an illegal occupation.
Alan Simpson MP In Austria, the maximum sentence for desertion is one year; in France, in peacetime up to three years’; in Germany up to five years'; in the Netherlands, in wartime, a maximum of seven and a half years'; in Poland in wartime up to three years.
Barry Ross, Gulf war vet:
“No doubt this will be counter-productive and send more AWOL soldiers even more underground and for longer. As a Gulf veteran and someone who deserted because of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] I understand the pressure. Police will hunt you down as if you were a mass murderer. I served six months in MCTC [Military Correction & Training Centre] Colchester for the same thing. It was a nightmare. Afterwards to prove a point I was sent to Ireland. Went AWOL again. It must be stopped. What next, the firing squad just to enforce discipline?” 
Ben Griffin, UK refusenik, resigned from the SAS, and refused to go back to Iraq.
" A soldier could face life imprisonment . . . even if that occupation is illegal and instigated by a foreign 'ally', or if the conduct of the occupation is criminal and against the will of the indigenous people of that country".
Osman Murat Ülke, CO from Turkey who won his right in the European Court not to be repeatedly jailed for his refusal, speaking of Section 8:
“A soldier is still a human being and not a mechanical extension of the military apparatus. No contract, no oath and no law can change this.”
Rose Gentle whose son Gordon was killed in Iraq, and who now campaigns with Military Families Against the War:
“It’s heartbreaking for a parent when a son stands up for his rights and may be locked away for life. It’s not just him, it’s his whole family that’s sentenced.”
Shimri Zameret, one of 500 high school refuseniks who was repeatedly jailed and then won his right to refuse to serve in the Israeli occupation:
"I sat 21 months in jail because I refused to serve in the Israeli Army. I know what it means for a young man to be taken away from his friends, family, dreams. I know that it wouldn't have mattered if it was 421 months. If I had ignored my conscience I would have lost my humanity."
Matan Kaminer, wih Shimri, one of the “five” who very publicly won their right to refuse:
“Soldiers are common people who pay the highest possible price for the imperial policies of economic, military and political elites. Resistance inside the military, whether among conscripts or volunteers, is vital for the struggle against imperial war and for world democracy. Israeli refusers stand in solidarity with our British sisters and brothers.”
“The day a Government considers punishing a human being who refuses to be a party to the greatest weapon of mass destruction in our world (War) with that same sentence of life in prison is the day in which that government hands in its humanity and returns to the savagery of persecution based on beliefs.”
Grupa Spoleczenstwo Aktywne, Active Society Group Wroclaw, Poland
“We speak as descendants of generations that suffered fear and loss of human dignity resulting from Hitler’s imperialist policy and military aggression. We find it outrageous that the UK Parliament is about to vote the legislation, which undermines the Nuremberg Principles of 1950 that established international recognition of each individual’s responsibility to refuse to obey illegal and immoral orders from any government.”
John McDonnell MP (Hansard 22 May 2006)
There is a duty placed on each of us, as individuals in a democratic society — but in particular on soldiers and members of the military — to exercise judgment about whether what we do is right and lawful. I reiterate the point that, whatever debates take place in this or any other Parliament, they do not override that individual duty.
1 Nuremberg Principles, No. 4: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law . . .”
2 See the Peace Pledge Union’s submission by to the Armed Forces Bill Select Committee, January 2006. http://www.ppu.org.uk .
3. Letter to Payday from At Ease, May 2006
4. See At Ease submission to the Select Committee, January 2006. http://www.atease.org.uk.
5. See Gilbert Blade’s submission to the Select Committee, January 2006 http://www.refusingtokill.net/UK%20Armed%20Forces%20Bill/GilbertBladesMemo.htm
6. as above
7 From our petition on line http://www.petitiononline.com/UKArmedF/petition.html signed by people from 20 countries. For more information on the Armed Forces Bill, including press, see http://www.refusingtokill.net/UK%20Armed%20Forces%20Bill/ukArmedForcesindex.htm
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