Volume , Number 0
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Making an Example of Ehren â€¦
Anti-War Photo Essay
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Making an Example of Ehren Watada
T he people running the Iraq war were eager to make an example of Ehren Watada at a court martial in February. But the man on trial set a profound example of conscience—helping to undermine the war that the Pentagon’s top officials are so eager to protect. “The judge in the case against the first U.S. officer court-martialed for refusing to ship out for Iraq barred several experts in international and constitutional law from testifying Monday [Feb. 5] about the legality of the war,” the Associated Press reported.
While the judge was hopping through military hoops at Fort Lewis in Washington state, an outpouring of support for Watada at the gates reflected just how broad and deep the opposition to this war has become. However, the AP dispatch merely stated that “outside the base, a small group that included actor Sean Penn demonstrated in support of Watada.” But, in fact, several hundred people maintained an antiwar presence at the gates, where a vigil and rally—led by Iraq war veterans and parents of those sent to kill and be killed in this horrific war—mirrored what is happening in communities across the United States.
In direct resistance to the depravity of the Bush administration as it escalates this war, Lieutenant Watada is taking a clear and uplifting position. Citing international law and the U.S. Constitution, he points out that the Iraq war is “manifestly illegal.” And he adds: “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. It is my duty not to follow unlawful orders and not to participate in things I find morally reprehensible. My participation would make me party to war crimes.”
Outside the fence at Fort Lewis the criminality of the war and the pain it has brought were heavy in the air. Darrell Anderson was a U.S. soldier in Iraq. He received a Purple Heart. Later, he refused orders to return for a second tour of duty. Now he gives firsthand accounts of the routine killing of Iraqi civilians. He speaks as an eyewitness and a participant in a war that is one long war crime. He makes a convincing case that “GI resistance is emerging and pivotal.”
Also at Fort Lewis I met Carlos Arredondo. He’s traveling the country in a long black hearse-like station wagon with photos and letters from his son Alexander plastered on the sides of the vehicle. At age 20, Alexander died in Iraq. A conversation with Carlos Arredondo is likely to leave you in tears. “When the Marines came to inform Arredondo of his son’s death and stayed after he asked them to leave, he set their van on fire, burning over a quarter of his body in the process,” the Boston Globe reported. Carlos and his wife Melida are now members of Military Families Speak Out.
Among the speakers at a nearby event the night before Watada’s court-martial was Helga Aguayo, whose husband Agustin is a U.S. Army medic now charged with desertion. After deployment to Iraq in 2004, he applied for recognition as a conscientious objector, without success. During his year in the war zone, he refused to put ammunition in his weapon. Today, despite a mistrial at his February hearing, Watada is facing up to four years in prison if the Army goes forward with a planned new court martial in March.
Half of his potential sentence has to do with the fact that he made public statements against the war. The war-makers want such honest courage to stop. But it is growing every day.
Norman Solomon is author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death and director of the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA).
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
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BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
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ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
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NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
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MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
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GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
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ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
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