Saturday, October 07, 2006

One Soldier's Resistance Story

An American army deserter/resister/objector who fled to Canada but returned to his home state of Kentucky after two years to turn himself into authorities has been spared a court martial and will be given a dishonourable discharge. Darrell Anderson has also entered a treatment center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Shortly after arriving in Canada, Anderson was very candid about the reasons for his dissention:

"I started to think ... what's it really for? I was willing to die for my country. I thought I was going over there to defend my country. But that's not what I was doing," Anderson said by telephone from Toronto Monday.
Anderson was with a group of soldiers helping to defend an Iraqi police station that was under fire. Suddenly, a car swerved into the area, refusing to stop. Soldiers are expected to open fire when that happens where any stranger is a potential enemy and any vehicle might contain a bomb. But Anderson never pulled the trigger of his M-16.

"This car kept coming, and the other guys were yelling, 'Why don't you shoot, why don't you shoot?' But I felt the car posed no threat. Then, the window of the car rolled down, and it was just an Iraqi family," Anderson said. "I said, 'Look it's just innocent people.' But they kept telling me, 'The next time, you open fire. We don't care."'

A few days later Anderson was wounded by a roadside bomb. He received the Purple Heart. But he says the incident at the police station, not his wounds, convinced him that the war was wrong. He said he felt he was being forced to possibly gun down innocent Iraqis.

"There are no weapons of mass destruction. Innocent people are being killed every day. It's a war about money -- to keep money in rich people's pockets. There is no way I can believe in that. I still believe in my country, but I can no longer be a part of the Army or that war," Anderson said.
Source: Project For the Old American Century

You can watch an interview with Darrell Johnson here in which he further explains his reasons for refusing to continue to serve prior to his return to the US.

There are thousands of objectors to the Iraq war who are still struggling with the US military. One of the most famous is Lt Ehren Watada because he is the first commissioned officer to openly dissent. He faces more than 8 years in jail for his resistance.

Canada, which basically looked the other way when AWOL Vietnam War draft dodgers showed up on our doorsteps led by PM Trudeau who said that our country was "a refuge from militarism" at that time is no longer that sanctuary for Americans who choose not to serve.

It's an interesting twist that in 2005, before the passage of this September's Detainee/Torture Bill which gaves Bush the sole authority to define torture, those AWOL from their service could not use this legal defence:

Scharf, the director of the International Law Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said the soldiers are not facing persecution, just jail time. And he said they could have exercised an internationally recognized right to protest illegal orders.

"It would be different if [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld or the generals ordered the systematic commission of war crimes," he said. "But that is not what is going on."

That is what is openly happening now. Perhaps the lawyers in Canada representing these objectors have just been handed a new legal tactic.

Further reading:

Central Kentucky Council for Peace & Justice
Center on Conscience and War
The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors
Veterans for Peace
War Resisters League
War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada)
Thank You Lt Ehren Watada
The case of Augustin Aguayo

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