The Rt Hon. Bob Ainsworth, MP
Secretary of State for Defence
cc: Rt Hon. Gordon Brown, Prime Minister
Bill Rammell, MP Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Bruce Houlder QC, Director of Service Prosecutions
Dear Mr Ainsworth,
DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST LANCE CORPORAL JOE GLENTON
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, 27, joined the Army in 2004 and was sent to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2006. He was shocked to find that the Afghan people, whom they had been told they had come to help, were fighting against British troops. Ashamed and disillusioned, he went AWOL in 2007. Two years later, he handed himself in. Charged with desertion, he faces up to two years in prison if convicted at his court martial which is provisionally set for January 2010.
L/Cpl Glenton’s decision to go AWOL was born not out of fear for his life, but out of respect for his life and his neighbour’s life, and the realisation that he had become, in his words, “the tool of American foreign policy”. He has the courage to express his inner conviction by refusing to return to Afghanistan to kill fellow human beings or be killed, in a cause he does not believe in.
He wrote to Prime Minister Gordon Brown last July to say that: “The war in Afghanistan is not reducing the terrorist risk, far from improving Afghan lives it is bringing death and devastation to their country. Britain has no business there. I implore you, Sir, to bring our soldiers home.” His wife and mother are entirely behind his decision. And the majority of people in the UK agree with them. In two recent polls, one in July 2009 (Populus/ITN), 59% (68% women and 49% men) – and another in October (YouGov/Channel 4), 62% – said they want the troops withdrawn immediately or in the coming year.
In the United States of America, Lieutenant Ehren Watada who refused to be part of the Iraq war as a matter of conscience has recently won his discharge from the army. We urge you to show at least equal respect for L/Cpl. Joe Glenton’s refusal to serve, and to drop the charges against him and all others who follow in his footsteps, refusing to fight in an illegal and immoral war.
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