MODEL LETTER TO ARMY COMMAND/US EMBASSIES
Re: Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer of the US Army to publicly refuse to go to Iraq
On June 7, First Lieutenant Ehren Watada of the US Army publicly declared that he is refusing orders to deploy to Iraq with his brigade, after the Army had declined his resignation based on his conscience and principles.
He was charged with missing movement, two counts of contempt towards President Bush, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. If convicted, Lt. Watada could be sentenced to over seven years in a military prison. We demand that he be granted an honorable discharge, and that he not be court-martialled nor in any way be punished for his actions. Refusing to kill is not a crime.
Lt. Watada’s stance is in line with the Nuremberg Charter (1950), which enshrined in international law the responsibility of each of us to refuse to obey illegal and immoral orders from any government. In the US, these principles have been part of the official policy of the Department of Defense since 1953, and can be found in the Uniform Code of Military Justice 809.ART.90 (20), 892.ART.92 (1), and 892.ART.92 (2), and the US Army Field Manual 27-10.
The pre-emptive war on, and occupation of, Iraq is a crime on a massive scale. Increasingly, soldiers in the US, the UK and other countries are refusing to participate in this slaughter, torture and rape -- by some estimates over 100,000 Iraqis killed, the majority women and children. The number of US military deaths in Iraq is now over 2600. Total casualties for both are many times higher.
As Prof. Francis Boyle testified at Lt. Watada’s pre-trial hearing on Aug 17-18,
People at the very top of the chain of command, up to and including the Secretary of Defense, are authorizing war crimes so it would be very difficult if not impossible for Lt. Watada not to be committing war crimes… he would be commanding troops in the field and he would have an obligation as a commander to make sure none of his troops committed war crimes because if they did he would be held accountable for them.
Lt. Watada’s refusal represents the view of millions. Poll after poll around the world, including in the US, have shown public rejection of the war and the occupation of Iraq.
At least 40,000 US soldiers are officially “deserters” since 2000, 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 the UK, which has the second largest contingent in Iraq, the number of deserters has tripled since the invasion.
Ben Griffin, a British soldier who resigned from the SAS (Special Armed Services) said,
“Soldiers are no longer asked to line up in the trench and at a blow of
their commander’s whistle go over the top without thinking. The war is
illegal, we were lied to -- surely a soldier is allowed to unvolunteer
himself from the army?”
Lt. Watada has said of his decision to refuse,
“It is my conclusion as an officer of the Armed Forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. 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.”
We urge you to accept Lt. Watada’s refusal to deploy to Iraq, not court-martial him, and grant him honorable discharge.