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It takes courage to say that you will not fight — especially if you are a soldier. As more members of the U.S. military step forward for peace, the peace movement must step forward to support them.

Large numbers are now refusing to serve: The Department of Defense estimates that there are about 8,000 AWOL service members. The GI Rights Hotline (800-394-9544) is currently receiving about 3,000 calls a month.

Most importantly, a growing number of soldiers are speaking out, against the illegality and immorality of the Iraq war and the orders they are being told to carry out. These brave men and women are risking jail time and their futures to stand up against the war.

Here are two of the growing number of resisters, click here for a fuller list:

Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq, had been facing more than seven years in prison for criticizing the president in a public speech, until the charge of “contempt toward the President” was rescinded following public outcry. He still faces up to four years in prison; his trial is set to begin on Feb. 5, 2007.

A federal appeals court is currently reviewing Army medic Spc. Agustín Aguayo’s case and considering whether to overturn the Army’s decision to deny him conscientious objector status. If Aguayo’s appeal is successful, it will be a historic victory; if it fails, Aguayo could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

The stories of returning combat veterans helped turn the tide and end the war in Vietnam. Today’s war resisters are providing critical first-hand knowledge of the horror and illegality of the Iraq war. Each servicemember who has spoken out against the war in Iraq has inspired more war resisters to come forward.

What You Can Do:

  • Keep war resisters’ cases in the media: Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper or call into radio talk shows and talk about their cases;
  • Organize a war resister solidarity event in your area: Invite a war resister or someone working on a war resister’s case to speak at a public event;
  • Keep pressure on the military to treat war resisters fairly: Write letters to officials at the base where a resister is being held and/or his or her case is being tried;
  • Write letters of personal support: See websites listed below for details;

Visit our website and those listed below for the latest news on war resisters’ cases and more specific information on how best to help them:

P.S. In January, on Martin Luther King Day, a petition called “An Appeal for Redress,” signed by more than 500 active duty troops, will be delivered to Congress. It reads: “As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.”

To support this powerful effort, sponsored by UFPJ member groups Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and Military Families Speak Out, write letters to the editors of your local newspapers and to your congressional representatives bringing this campaign to their attention, and urging them to listen to these courageous soldiers.


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