Dear friends,

First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, from Hawai’i, is the first US military officer to publicly refuse orders to serve in Iraq. He will announce his refusal at press conferences in Tacoma, Washington and Honolulu, TODAY, 7 June, accompanied by his parents and many supporters.  Please sign the petition, circulate the news, and support this important campaign in whatever way you can.

Statement from Payday in support of First Lieutenant Ehren Watada

 First Lieutenant Ehren Watada from Hawai’i, is the first US military officer to publicly refuse orders and campaign for an end to the illegal and immoral war in Iraq, with the full support of his parents and of the antiwar movement. US refuseniks such as Stephen Funk, Abdullah Webster, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Jeremy Hinzman, and Kevin Benderman have made visible the groundswell of US soldiers who are refusing to kill or be killed.  Lt Ehren will make a way for many other officers to refuse. In the US at least 8,000 soldiers are officially “deserters”, hundreds are seeking refuge in Canada and other countries, and the number of young men and women signing up for the military (particularly people of color) is at an historic low despite the pressure of the “poverty draft”.

In defending Ehren, we are defending ourselves and our sisters and brothers in every country against the devastation brought on by Bush’s “endless wars” and the billions of dollars stolen especially from those of us with least to pay for it.

 Ehren Watada says, “I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression.”  He echoes Malcolm Kendall-Smith, a Royal Air Force officer in the UK who was recently sentenced to eight months in prison for refusing to return to Iraq and serve in an "imperial invasion and occupation".

 The refusenik movement is growing in many countries.  Supporting each other internationally strengthens us all.

 Mehmet Tarhan, a gay Kurdish man who refused to serve in the Turkish army, was supported by an unprecedented network of anti-war activists, refuseniks, anti-militarists, anarchists, women’s, lesbian and gay and human rights campaigners – who on the same day picketed Turkish embassies in 23 cities in 14 countries. He was released from prison after serving less than a year of a four year, and possibly longer, sentence – a victory for Mehmet, his family, the hundreds of thousands of draft evaders in Turkey, and for the international network which came together to support him.

Currently, the UK government is quietly attempting to pass a law that states that soldiers who intend to avoid serving in a “military occupation of a foreign country or territory” may be imprisoned “for life” – in contravention of Nuremberg principles, and a clear attack on the movement of British Army deserters which has tripled since the war in Iraq began. We have been campaigning to stop this militaristic bill with the support of refuseniks from a number of countries, including Turkey, Israel, France, Italy, Poland, and the US and UK.  We invite your support.

Payday is a network of men working with the Global Women’s Strike
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