objector Marine Stephen Funk transferred to Camp Lejeune
Yesterday, Wednesday, September 10 the Marine Corps flew Stephen Funk under guard to Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in North Carolina where he will serve his sentence in the military prison for unauthorized absence during the Iraq War. The military prison in North Carolina is the same brig where dozens of Marine conscientious objectors were detained and harassed during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
In a significant and important victory for Funk, on September 6 a military jury in New Orleans acquitted him of desertion. However, the jury found Funk guilty of the lesser charge of unauthorized absence for not reporting to his San Jose, California unit. The military sentenced him to six months in military prison, a bad conduct discharge, reduction of rank to private, and forfeiture of two-thirds pay for six months. "The jury recognized the fact that because Stephen filed for a discharge as a conscientious objector, he was not a military deserter", says Aimee Allison -- a 1991 Gulf War conscientious objector.
The Stephen Funk Legal Defense Committee and other supporters are now shifting their concerns to Funk's welfare in the military brig as he serves his sentence. As an outspoken critic of the war and an openly gay man, Funk is at particular risk.
Based on past experiences of objectors who served time in Camp Lejeune brig, prisoners are forced to undergo indoctrination that mirrors boot camp. The intent is to force prisoners to comply with prison rules. During the 1991 Gulf War, conscientious objectors were subject to numerous instances of harassment and hazing. According to Gulf War objector Erik Larsen, prisoners were forced to scream such things as, "Blood makes the grass grow, Marines make the blood flow!" Larsen was also sentenced to a six months in the Camp Lejeune brig for unauthorized absence in 1991.
"I hope that the Marine Corps authorities will treat Stephen fairly. Any harassment or hazing is not acceptable. Stephen should not have to stand at attention to hours at a time, be shackled in irons by hand or foot, or be subject to derogatory or racist speech", says Larsen.
In 1991, Marine objector Jeff Paterson spent pre-trial confinement in a brig in Pearl Harbor, "The only reason why I was not harassed in the brig was because my supporters were vocal on my behalf."
Funk's attorney Stephen Collier has communicated with the commander of the Camp Lejeune brig, Chief Warrant Officer Laird. "I have requested that Stephen be placed in the safest environment. Stephen's case has received a lot of media attention and there may be guards and fellow prisoners that may be hostile to him." Laird has assured Collier that no harassment will be tolerated.
are encouraged to write to Funk directly at:
A scholarship fund for Funk has been established to support his college education after his release, and a homecoming celebration in the San Francisco Bay Area is planned for his return.
Stephen Funk resisted the unjust war on Iraq "sold to us by the deception of our leaders," as Funk declared. His supporters call for all the troops to be returned home immediately.
more information contact: Stephen Collier: 415.771.9851 Or firstname.lastname@example.org
refusing to kill