AI Index: AMR 51/057/2008 (Public)
Date: 06 June 2008
USA: James Corey Glass has right not to serve in Iraq
Amnesty International believes James Corey Glass to have a genuine conscientious objection to serving as a combatant in the US forces in Iraq, and would consider him to be a prisoner of conscience if imprisoned on his return to the USA. He is facing deportation from Canada on 12 June.
James Glass joined the army in 2002, enlisting in the National Guard where he was assigned to non-combatant duties in the USA. His unit was later ordered to deploy to Iraq, where he served five months of active service in 2005.
According to his statement, he had concerns about the legality of the war before his deployment to Iraq. While serving there, he developed further serious objections to the war, including what he saw as the abusive treatment of civilians by the US military and failure within the system to address such abuses. He stated that, whilst in Iraq, he reported his concerns to his superiors and asked to be relieved of duty. His request was denied but he was granted a two-week leave. He refused to return to his unit and went absent without leave (AWOL) in February 2006.
Since being in Canada, James Glass has become a member of the "War Resisters Campaign" and has spoken out publicly about his objection to the Iraq war.
US law recognizes the right to conscientious objection only on grounds of opposition to war in any form. James Glass was therefore unable to seek a claim for discharge from the army on grounds of his objection to the Iraq War. Other similar cases where US soldiers have sought to register their conscientious objection and apply for non-combatant status have been turned down.
If returned to the USA he faces a possible court-martial, where he could be imprisoned for between one and five years.
Some US military personnel who have refused to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan due to their conscientious objection to US policy and practice in the "war on terror" have been imprisoned solely for their beliefs. Amnesty International has considered some to be prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally.
Some of these conscientious objectors have been court-martialled and sentenced despite pending applications for conscientious objector status, others were imprisoned after their applications were turned down on the basis that they were objecting to particular wars rather than to war in general.
Amnesty International has declared a number of conscientious objectors in the USA to be prisoners of conscience. They included Camilo Mejia, who was sentenced to one year's imprisonment for his objections to the war in Iraq, and Abdullah Webster, who refused to participate in the same war due to his religious beliefs. Another, Kevin Benderman, was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment after he refused to re-deploy to Iraq because of the scenes of devastation he witnessed there. Agustín Aguayo was sentenced to eight months' imprisonment for his refusal to participate in the war in Iraq. All four have since been released.
Amnesty International is of the view that the right to refuse to perform military service for reasons of conscience is inherent in the notion of freedom of thought, conscience and religion as recognised in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Amnesty International considers a conscientious objector to be any person who, for reasons of conscience or profound conviction, refuses either to perform any form of service in the armed forces or applies for non-combatant status. This can include refusal to participate in a war because one disagrees with its aims or the manner in which it was being waged, even if one does not oppose taking part in all wars.
Wherever such a person is detained or imprisoned solely for these believe, Amnesty International considers that person to be a prisoner of conscience. AI also considers conscientious objectors to be prisoners of conscience if they are imprisoned as a consequence of leaving the armed forces without authorization for reasons of conscience, if because of those reasons; they have taken reasonable steps to secure release from military obligations.
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK
The above, noted by Brita, is "USA: James Corey Glass has right not to serve in Iraq" and it's about Corey Glass (we'll call him Corey Glass here, not James, Corey is what he chooses to go by). May 21st, US war resisters and Iraq War veteran Glass was informed that he had until June 12th to leave Canada or he would be deported. Tuesday's motion in the House of Commons was the voice of the legislature (and also the voice of the Canadian people). It is non-binding. Stephen Harper, the nation's prime minister, can choose to ignore it. If he does so, he is ignoring the will of the people and the legislature.
Canada stepped up to the plate this week. What are members of the US Congress doing? In 1969, then Representative Ed Koch was visiting Canada to meet with war resisters. By 1974, he had proposed four bills in Congress regarding amnesty. He was only one person but, due to having been mayor of NYC, he is someone whose name is still known. Where are today's members of Congress advocating support for war resisters?
The 2002 authorization was not a vote for war. But Congress has not stopped the illegal war. What are they doing to protect those who are standing up?
And for those who have forgotten, George McGovern, in his 1972 presidential run, spoke about war resisters, spoke about amnesty. What's the 'anti-war' Obama doing? Oh, yeah, not a damn thing.
AP reports 5 dead from Baghdad car bombings. That's probably not a 'presidential' 'issue' either.
Clyde notes Dianne Mathiowetz
's "Canada Parlaiment supports U.S. war resisters" (Workers World):
The Canadian Parliament voted favorably June 3 on a motion to halt the deportations of U.S. conscientious objectors who are seeking a safe haven in Canada rather than fight in the illegal occupation of Iraq. The vote in the House of Commons was 137-110, with all the opposition parties--the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party-- voting for the motion, and the ruling Conservative Party voting against.
The motion is nonbinding and could be overruled by the Conservative ruling party. Nevertheless, it is an important escalation of the campaign against the deportation of GI resisters.
The motion to halt the deportations is a strong step against a series of recent reactionary rulings issued by the Canadian Supreme Court. The court's refusals to hear the appeals for refugee status filed by numerous GI resisters have paved the way for the possible deportation of dozens, if not hundreds, of conscientious objectors.
The vote in the Canadian Parliament comes on the heels of a deportation order given to GI resister Corey Glass. Glass, an Indiana resident, signed up for the National Guard in 2002. He was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and served five months as a military intelligence sergeant before going AWOL to protest what he deemed an "illegal and immoral" war. Glass moved to Toronto, Canada, in August 2006.
In a recent interview, Glass said of his decision to join the National Guard: "I signed up to defend people and do humanitarian work filling sandbags if there was a hurricane. I should have been in New Orleans, not Iraq." (Toronto Star, May 22).
On May 21, Glass was ordered to leave Canada by June 12 and return to the U.S., where he will likely face imprisonment. In the wake of the Glass ruling, and the run- up to the Canadian Parliament vote, GI resisters and their supporters in Canada and the U.S. have been intensifying the grass-roots struggle in support of more progressive policies towards GI resisters seeking asylum in Canada.
Court martial at Ft. Gordon, Ga.
You can add another name to the growing list of U.S. military personnel who are taking a stand against participating in the U.S. occupation army.
Pfc. Ryan Jackson, now age 25, joined the Army in May 2005, hoping that time in the military would offer a path to a college education and a future career.
He went to South Korea as part of the 35th Signal Brigade. There he began to question what purpose the U.S. military and foreign policy really served.
By the fall of 2007, Jackson determined that he would not participate in war and attempted to gain an administrative discharge. He went AWOL in December 2007, contacted Courage to Resist and other GI support groups, secured the services of a civilian lawyer, James M. Branum, and turned himself in at Ft. Sill, Okla., on April 4, 2008.
On the eve of Jackson's court-martial, a dozen or so supporters from Augusta and Atlanta, including members of the International Action Center, demonstrated outside the gates of Ft. Gordon. Another young soldier stopped by the vigil to express his solidarity and intent to start a chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War at the base.
The following morning, May 29, several anti-war activists attended Jackson's court-martial. He pled guilty to the charges but made an eloquent statement declaring his actions a form of "civil disobedience." He was sentenced to 100 days in confinement, reduction of rank to E-1, forfeiture of pay and given a bad conduct discharge.
Since he is being credited with time served, Jackson will be out in 29 days. He plans on speaking at the Veterans for Peace conference and going on a Courage to Resist tour later this summer.
A recent, nearly month long, anti-war march through upstate New York, initiated by the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), and attended by many GI resisters, was a marked success in helping to build support for GI resistance. The march through working-class towns of upstate New York--many of which are sparsely populated but have numerous community members in the armed services--was a crucial step in building broad-based solidarity with the brave men and women who have taken a principled stand against the unjust wars of U.S. imperialism.
GI resisters are courageously leading the struggle against unjust imperialist war. The movement in support of their brave actions must continually strive to match their sacrifice. For more information, see couragetoresist.org.
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