First Lieutenant Ehren Watada is the first commissioned officer of the US Army to publicly refuse to go to Iraq and to campaign for an end to this war. On July 5, he was formally charged with missing movement, two counts of contempt towards President Bush, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. If convicted of all charges, Lt. Watada could be sentenced to over seven years in a military prison.
"Although I have tried to resign out of protest, I am forced to participate in a war that is manifestly illegal. As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order... Normally, those in the military have allowed others to speak for them and act on their behalf. That time has come to an end… I hope that my example shows other soldiers that they too have the power to choose right over wrong and that freedom is something that can never be taken away." Lt. Watada
The Family and Friends of Lt. Watada are calling for immediate actions in response to the charges brought against him, and to prepare for an international mobilization the day before his court-martial, possibly sometime in October. For more information, see website: www.thankyoult.org. We urge you to support Lt. Watada, to demand that he be allowed to speak out, and not face any further punishment for his principled and courageous stand.
On June 27, thousands of veterans, military families, women, antiwar activists and others in more than 30 cities across the US and in several other countries took part in the Day of Action to Stand Up With Lt. Watada coordinated by the US group Courage to Resist. Payday and the Global Women’s Strike organized events in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, London, Venice and Rome.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
· If you live outside the US, send a letter of protest to the US embassy and/or vigil outside. See our website www.refusingtokill.net for a model letter, or write your own. For US embassies and consulates see usembassy.state.gov.
· Check the websites for breaking news & actions prior to military court martial, possibly in October.
Recently, US soldier Suzanne Swift was arrested for deserting her military police unit after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of rape and other sexual violence over months by superiors while on duty in Iraq. Her refusal and Lt. Watada’s stand out among the increasing number of soldiers who are refusing the atrocities this war is inflicting on the Iraqi population and on its own military. The two families have met and are mutually supportive. For more information see: www.suzanneswift.org or email Sara Rich, Suzanne Swift's mother, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This vigil is part of a Day of Action in support of Suzanne Swift planned for Saturday 15 July.
Payday is a network of men working with the Global Women’s Strike
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