Letter published in Liberazione
29 April 2006
In his article “London, life imprisonment for the ‘objector’ soldiers in occupied country” (23 April), Guy Fawkes mentions Section 8 of the Armed Forces Bill, without stressing its international implications.
Section 8 says that soldiers who intend to avoid serving in a “military occupation of a foreign country or territory” can be imprisoned for life. At the same time the UK Defence Secretary, John Reid, is calling for a re-write of the Geneva Convention to legalise pre-emptive military action - the traditional English imperial policy revamped to go hand in hand with Bush’s “endless war”. Britain has the second biggest contingent in Iraq and soon to be in charge of NATO forces in Afghanistan.
This is a blatant attack on the growing movement of men and women in the military who refuse to fight in present and future wars or occupations.
Crucially, the article gives the impression that nothing is being done to stop Section 8, whereas opposition in the UK and around the world is growing. Our organisation, for a start, has set up an international petition on our website www.refusingtokill.net and in a few days it has been signed by people from 19 countries.
Osman Murat Ülke, a conscientious objector
from Turkey who won his right in the European Court, not to be repeatedly
jailed for the “offence” of refusal, said 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 now campaigns with Military Families Against the War, in the UK, said: “It’s heartbreaking for a parent when a son stands up for his rights and is locked away for life, it’s not just him, it’s his whole family that’s sentenced.”
We invite the international anti-war movement, pacifists, human rights campaigners to contact us and defend the right which soldiers, and ideed everyone of us has, to refuse illegal orders and to be complicit in war crimes.
Payday, an international network of men working with the Global Women’s Strike, for a world which invests in caring, not email@example.com