Tuesday, October 31, 2006

'I said NO and I will never regret it' -- Kyle Snyder, war resister

An Army soldier who fled to Canada rather than return to Iraq is expected to surrender to military authorities Tuesday at Fort Knox.
Kyle Snyder, 23, of Colorado Springs, Colo., who served as a combat engineer in Iraq before deserting, will turn himself in 18 months after he fled to avoid a second deployment overseas, said Sarah Bjorknas, who works with the
War Resisters Support Campaign in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Snyder scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning in Louisville and was expected to surrender at 2:30 p.m. EST.
"If I'm able to turn myself in and get it all over with, that's what I need to do," Snyder said Monday.
Snyder returned to the United States on Saturday, in the company of Gerry Condon, who works with the group. Snyder's attorney, James Fennerty of Chicago, said a deal has been reached for Snyder to surrender but not face a court-martial. Instead, he will receive an other-than-honorable discharge, below an honorable discharge but better than a dishonorable discharge, Fennerty said.

The above is from Brett Barrouquere's "AWOL soldier expected to surrender on Tuesday" about war resister Kyle Snyder and we'll note Courage to Resist:

"At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if this is something you can live with. It's your life and the choice is ultimately yours to make. I said NO and I will never regret it." - Kyle Snyder Kyle Snyder plans to present himself to Army authorities at Fort Knox, KY, Tuesday, October 31. Before turning himself in he will hold a press conference at 10am in nearby Louisville at Central Presbyterian Church, (4th and Kentucky St.) He will arrive at Fort Knox at approximately 2:30 pm.
Donations are urgently needed for Kyle's legal fees. Please
donate today!
"I joined the military when I was 19 years old from a government program called Job Corps, in Clearfield, Utah," Snyder explains. "I wasn't a good kid. I didn't have a good background. I was in foster homes from thirteen to seventeen, then when I was seventeen, I went through a government program called Job Corps. So, from thirteen all the way up, I didn't have parental figures in my life really. My parents divorced; my father was really abusive towards my mother and he was abusive toward me. I've still got scars on my back. I was put in Social Services when I was thirteen. I was an easy target for recruiters, plain and simple. I wanted to go to college. I wanted to provide for a family; I wanted to have a family. I wanted all the benefits that the military had to offer."
Snyder thought about the war in Iraq at the time, but "more than anything I wanted to reconstruct the civilization of Iraq. I wanted to help liberate the people of Iraq, just like the American president was saying. So, I signed up to be a heavy construction equipment operator, part of the 94th Corps of Engineers. I figured if I was an engineer in the United States Army I could build foundations for the Iraqi people to form their new government, to form a civilization after the bombings of 2003."

When Snyder arrived in Iraq, however, he says he saw no reconstruction of Iraq. "The only reconstruction I saw was building Army bases."
In the meantime, he had been retrained to be a 50-caliber machine gunner. "I was in Mosul. I was in Baghdad. I was in Stryker. I was in Scania. [Both, military bases.] I was in Tikrit. There was reconstruction of forward operating bases and military bases, but no city work being done."
Kyle traveled to Canada in April 2005 while on leave from the war in Iraq. Proclaiming that he was lied to by military recruiters and that the war in Iraq is "illegal and immoral," Snyder applied for refugee status in Canada.
Last week, Kyle Snyder was busy saying goodbye to the many friends he has made in Canada. "Many Canadians have supported me in extraordinary ways. I will never forget that," he says. "Canada will always have a special place in my heart."
Returning to the U.S. is a personal decision, says Snyder. "It is my right to return home to my country, and now is the right time for me to do so."
Kyle Snyder's message to soldiers and youth:
"If you really want to 'support the troops,' you don’t send them into unjust, counterproductive wars. Until all our young men and women are home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I would advise against joining the military.
"If you are already in the military, I would advise you to follow your conscience before simply obeying any order. In fact, under international laws and treaties ratified by both the U.S. and Canada, it is a soldier’s duty to refuse to participate in war crimes.
"Sure, there are consequences to standing up for what you believe in. But there are graver consequences if you just go along blindly following orders. You could be killed or seriously wounded, as over 20,000 U.S. soldiers have been in Iraq. Or you could become a completely different person than the one your family and friends knew and loved. The images and memories of war may haunt you for the rest of your life.
"At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself if this is something you can live with. It's your life and the choice is ultimately yours to make. I said NO and I will never regret it."
Donations are urgently needed for Kyle's legal fees. Please
donate today! For more information visit: www.CouragetoResist.org
For more info on the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada visit: www.resisters.ca

Kyle Snyder is part of a movement of resistance within the military. This is the topic to discuss today with friends and family. More can be found in "Editorial: Kyle Snyder's return to the US is part of a movement of resistance" (The Third Estate Sunday Review).

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