The Army, after their defeat at the first court martial, has now
announced they are re-filing charges against Lt. Watada . He is
again facing up to 6 years in prison. The second trial is
scheduled for July 16, with pre-trial motions May 20-21. The
Watada campaign is calling for our renewed pressure on military
and government officials for them to accept Lt. Watada’s
resignation, and to sign the petition in his support on
See latest action alert here. If you live outside the US,
please send letters to the US embassy. Please also copy to us at
Lt. Watada & his mother Carolyn Ho
Victory in Lt. Ehren Watada court-martial!
I have broken no law but the code of silence and unquestioning
loyalty. If I am guilty of any crime, it is that I learned too
much and cared too deeply for the meaningless loss of my fellow
soldiers and my fellow human beings. Lt. Ehren Watada
Due to the tireless effort of individuals and organizations (not
just one or two but many), we have taken the ultimate step in
communicating to the US military that Lt. Watada's act of
conscience is an act of courage that merits praise not
punishment...We will accept nothing less than for the military
to accept Lt. Watada's resignation and to drop all charges.
Read Ehren and his family’s
thank you to supporters here
The Fight Inside the Courtroom and Outside
Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first US Army commissioned officer
who publicly refused to deploy to Iraq, and who invited other
soldiers to refuse too, faced court-martial on 5 February in
Fort Lewis, Washington state. In a stunning turn of events,
the government’s case against Lt. Watada fell apart. The
military maintains that Lt. Watada’s actions constituted a
crime, but Lt. Watada asserts that he acted to prevent a crime –
participating in an immoral and illegal war. To prove his guilt,
the prosecution played Lt Watada’s dynamic speech to the Vets
for Peace convention last August. But it only proved what Lt
Watada freely admitted and what the judge had tried to keep out
of court – his ethical and legal reasons not to deploy. (You
can view the speech here).
In addition, prosecution witnesses under cross-examination, two
of his commanders and an expert in officer ethics from West
Point, admitted that Lt. Watada had followed proper procedures
in attempting to resign and in making public statements against
Watada’s speech set on fire a movement increasingly opposed to
Bush’s ‘endless war’, which helps explain the explosion of
support for him. This movement ensured that, despite the judge’s
best efforts to center the trial on Lt Watada’s supposed
illegality, it centered instead on the war’s illegality. The
military judge could not trust the panel of seven officers,
three of whom were people of color, to find Lt. Watada guilty.
Thus on 7 February the judge encouraged the prosecution to
accept a ‘mistrial’ rather than continue.
Forty supporters and several dozen members of the press,
including from Japan and Germany, observed the court proceedings
Margaret Prescod (Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike –GWS)
and Eric Gjertsen (Payday) were in court as supporters of Ehren
and his mother Carolyn Ho.
You can hear their report here.
Also at the court martial to support a fellow refuser were Helga
Aguayo, wife of refuser Agustín Aguayo (see below) with
daughters Rebecca and Raquel and mother-in-law Susana.
number of movement successes contributed to the courtroom
forced the military to drop charges
before the trial began, reducing the sentence from 8 to 6, and
then to 4 years.
brought prominent actors, activists and politicians, even a
come out in support.
got Amnesty International
to recognize Lt. Watada as a prospective Prisoner of Conscience.
national and international media began to take the issue
Major items appeared in: Washington Post, LA Times, National
Public Radio, the BBC, UK Guardian and Independent, Le Monde and
Liberation in France, Gazzettino, Liberazione, Manifesto and
Repubblica in Italy, El País in Spain, Turkish Daily News, Carta
Popular in Uruguay, Al Jazeera.net, and regular broadcasts in
150 affiliates of Pacifica radio US.
Once Carolyn Ho, Lt. Watada’s mother, who had worked endlessly
behind the scenes, but whose name was not even known, began to
Gloria Pacis, mother of refusenik Stephen Funk, came to support
Ehren and shared a platform with Carolyn. Then Helga Aguayo,
wife of conscientious objector Agustín Aguayo, also shared a
platform with Carolyn. A new and more accurate picture of the
movement against the military emerged: soldiers refusing within,
mutual support from campaigning families outside.
Watada writes, “Make no mistake, the Army can choose to lose
small by immediately granting my resignation or they can lose
big when they are forced to drop all charges due to double
jeopardy, promote me to Captain, and grant me an honorable
discharge anyway. Even in the off-chance that they succeed in
re-trying me, public opposition to this war (including the
military) grows daily, congressional investigations bring more
information to light, and we will have 5 more months to add to
the groundwork that has already been laid.”
mistrial is a major victory for the anti-war movement,
especially for those who have increasingly rallied in support of
Lt. Watada ever since he declared his refusal in June 2006.
On the first day, thousands of students, veterans, religious
supporters and others including from way down the West coast and
elsewhere protested outside Fort Lewis. Cities and towns across
the US held support demonstrations.
Payday and the GWS coordinated actions in Argentina, England,
Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Morocco, Peru,
Turkey, Uruguay, and Venezuela, and coordinated a fiery rally
and program in Philadelphia PA and a picket at the White House
in Washington DC.
See reports and photos here
here. We had earlier organised a
speaking and lobbying tour in the US with Carolyn Ho, Lt.
Watada’s mother, who, like so many mothers, partners, aunts and
sisters, has campaigned tirelessly behind the scenes to get
justice for her son. Without this caring work for justice, the
courtroom victory would have been unimaginable.
Agustín Aguayo & his wife Helga
March, US Army Specialist Agustín Aguayo will face court-martial
in Germany and up to seven years in prison.
For three years he has struggled to be recognized as a
conscientious objector. Despite his stated beliefs against war
in any form, the Army attempted to force him to redeploy to Iraq
in September 2006. The backbone of his campaign is his family,
in particular his wife Helga. See
Lt. Watada said:
“For soldiers to stop fighting, they must have the
unconditional support of the people. ...Convince them that no
matter how long they sit in prison… their families will have a
roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, opportunities and
education.” Lt. Watada has called us to
specifically support Agustín, and also Mark Wilkerson (sentenced
to 7 months in prison last week).
Carolyn Ho, speaking
on a platform with Helga Aguayo in Los Angeles, organized by
Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress, urges us to put her son’s
words into practice by raising money for the Aguayos. “I’m
hoping that you will adopt this family – that they will not be
left alone to stand by themselves against the
military-industrial complex.... and not just in words: in
tangible monetary support, emotional support, everything.”
Donations online, or directly to the family at this address:
Aguayo, 36838 57th Street East, Palmdale, CA 93552 USA
No Soldiers, No Wars
Asian-American Ehren Watada is another man of color who is
giving impetus to the anti-war movement within the US military –
along with Filipino-American Stephen Funk, Latinos Camilo Mejia,
Pablo Paredes, and Agustín Aguayo, and African-American Jonathan
Hutto. Among communities of color in the US, the stand that
Lt. Watada is taking has provided one means to make deep
anti-war sentiment visible. Among the panel of officers who
made up the jury, the three people of color – two women and one
man – were the most sympathetic. One of the women, in response
to questions on her suitability for the panel, told the court
that she was impressed by Lt. Watada’s actions.
Mass marches and rallies are a powerful expression of the
popular will and can be effective – the Italian government just
resigned as a result of one - but other governments have largely
ignored them and political parties have often exploited them.
The Watada campaign spoke to a movement that had found many ways
to organize: continual picketing of recruiters’ offices,
leafleting on and outside military bases, protesting welfare
cuts which push young people into the military, lobbying against
criminal government treatment of vets and their families,
blocking shipments of arms to Iraq, regular local pickets . . .
Rallying behind refusers who take on the military is a
strategy that strengthens would-be refusers.
An international army of refuseniks needs our support
According to the Pentagon, 8000 soldiers have gone “AWOL”
(absent without leave), hundreds are seeking refuge in Canada
and other countries, and recruitment is at an historic low
despite the pressure of the “poverty draft”. The number of UK
deserters has tripled since the invasion. Over 1200 active-duty
US military have signed an Appeal for Redress to Congress
calling for withdrawal of all troops and bases from Iraq. (see
In Turkey and Israel, it is common for refuseniks to face
multiple arrests and trials for the same charge. Halil Savda, a
Kurdish draft refuser in Turkey, is currently serving another
period in jail where he has been badly beaten. An estimated half
a million people in Turkey are refusing compulsory military
service. In Israel, where hundreds of students and soldiers have
refused to participate in the brutal war against Palestinians, a
19-year-old refusenik Hadas Amit is serving her fifth jail
term. The Watada victory will be felt internationally. Refusers
now challenging the military are stronger, and their numbers
Jonathan Hutto initiated the Appeal for Redress
For more information see the Family and Friends of Lt. Watada
To make a non-tax-deductible donation to Lt. Watada’s defense
fund, please make checks payable to:
ECCOR, P.O. Box 235511, Honolulu HI 96823 USA
To make a tax-deductible donation by postal mail, please make
checks out to "Hawaii People's Fund" and note
"Lt Watada Defense Fund" on the memo line. Please send to:
Hawai’i People's Fund, Attn: Lt. Watada Defense Fund, 810 N.
Vineyard Blvd., Honolulu HI 96817-3590 USA
can view or read Lt. Watada's inspiring speech to the
Veterans for Peace convention in August, on
Click on “Lt. Watada’s Speeches”.
A video of this Lt. Watada’s speech to the Veterans for Peace
Convention together with a presentation by Carolyn Ho of her
son’s case is also available.
Contact us for a copy of either video to show at your school,
religious organization, community center, public event, TV
Global Women’s Strike
Payday, a network of men working with the Global Women’s
Invest in Caring not Killing.
(215) 848 1120
London 0207 209 4751