To arrange interviews with Carolyn Ho, contact Phoebe Jones or Eric Gjertsen at 215-848-1120.
A mother’s voice:
Carolyn Ho, mother of Lt. Ehren Watada, on mini speaking tour of the US
Carolyn Ho, the mother of Lt. Ehren Watada – the first commissioned US Army officer to refuse to serve in Iraq – will be speaking across the Northeast and Midwest in support of her son. Ms Ho is scheduled to be speaking at university, community and church events in Philadelphia, Lancaster PA, Springfield PA, New York City, Buffalo NY, Rochester NY, Montpelier Vermont, Rockford and Chicago in Illinois, and Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
introducing her will be Margaret Prescod, spokeswoman for
Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike and host of the popular
“Sojourner Truth” show on KPFK, Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles which
has covered the story from the beginning.
In a case that has drawn international attention including on CNN and the New York Times, Lt. Watada of Hawaii failed to report for duty on June 22 as his brigade was deployed to Iraq, carrying out his stated intention to refuse to lead his troops to kill or be killed in what he says is an illegal and immoral war. He faces court martial in February on charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer, which could result in a prison sentence of up to six years.
Of Chinese and Japanese descent, Lt. Watada has become a spokesperson for the growing movement within the US military against the war. He says, “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.” Soldiers from communities of color have been in the forefront of military personnel refusing orders to go to Iraq, including the well-known cases of Stephen Funk and Camilo Mejia.
A guidance counselor for Native Hawai’ian students, Carolyn Ho has campaigned tirelessly behind the scenes to build support for her son’s cause. “As a mother, I have evolved from fearing for his safety and for his future to the realization that there is a higher purpose to all that has transpired,” she says. “What Ehren is doing will galvanize the anti-war movement.”
On June 27 an International Day of Action in support of Lt. Watada drew thousands of veterans, military families, women and antiwar activists in over 30 cities across the US and in other countries, including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, London, Venice and Rome, with demonstrations also in Turkey, Israel, and Japan. All polls indicate that a majority of Americans are against the war and occupation, with the recent election universally interpreted as a resounding rejection of the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq. After the election, the Army dropped all charges of “contempt towards the president” against Lt. Watada.
Carolyn Ho is part of a growing, though often invisible, movement of mothers campaigning on behalf of sons and daughters who have taken a morally courageous stand against the Iraq war, often at great personal risk. Ms. Ho is supported and urged on by women’s organizations to make public her voice in support of her son. Her tour is being coordinated by the Global Women’s Strike, Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike, and Payday.