By André Shepherd, US GI objector in Germany. April 4, 2012
It has been almost a year since the German Federal Immigration Office denied my asylum. During this time the American Government continues to force soldiers such as myself to continue invading other lands under the guise of Democracy. It pains me to see that this once great country has decided to use its great power to subjugate the peoples of the world, rather than uplifting them to new heights. Even though the Iraq war has seemingly ended, there is still no end in sight for this ill-fated “War on Terror.”
It is because of this open march to authoritarianism coupled with the fact that many citizens and soldiers continue to be persecuted for opposing this war that I have decided to continue with the Asylum process. Each and every one of us must bear the responsibility to put a stop to the non-stop destruction and killing. The peoples of the world who have borne the brunt of these unlawful attacks must finally have the chance at peace. It is also imperative that the soldiers who have had the courage to stand up to these heinous crimes are given the opportunity to speak out with no fear of retribution, rather than to consistently be marginalized and persecuted at the behest of the power-hungry elite.
Since December of 2011, things have gotten more dangerous than ever for everyone involved in the anti-war movement. On December 31, the President of the United States signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 now known as Public Law 112-81. This legislation failed to garner attention from the corporate media, although it should. With this new law, the President has been officially given the right to use the Armed Forces to arrest, detain or assassinate anyone including U.S. citizens worldwide. This is significant, because still more vestiges of America´s once revered constitution has been removed, and a dictatorship is taking shape. This means that anyone, that is accused of helping “terrorists” can be kidnapped or killed without a hearing or even knowing that they have been targeted. I fear for everyone who has stood up in opposition to the policies of a government gone wrong. Our campaigns as well as others are diligently searching for the published final version of this law, but so far the final version has been kept from the public. It is our hope a copy will be found soon, so the process of putting pressure on the governments of the world to force the American government to overturn this draconian law can begin. I encourage everyone who is reading this to please inform yourselves over this and pass this on to others. Your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
As for me and my family, we are hanging in there. We had some great successes in the past year, with my admittance into the Fachinformatiker für Systemintegration (IT-Specialist) apprenticeship and my wife has also finished her training as an IHK certified Office Assistant (Büro Kauffrau). My wife also had successful surgery in October and has since fully recovered. We also had the pleasure of meeting Gerry Condon and Helen Jaccard from Veterans for peace. They are currently on tour in Europe and have participated in many events. You can follow their adventures at http://www.mobileactivist.blogspot.de.
In February we took part with the Munich American Peace Committee, Connection e.V, and Veterans for Peace in the protests against the so-called security conference. The events were very powerful, where thousands of people from all walks of life joined together to let their displeasure over these illegal wars be heard. Malelai Joya was also on hand, and gave a very motivating speech at the end of the march. I hope to attend more events in the coming months.
Although a date has not been set for our hearing, we are still researching and building an iron-clad legal defense for this asylum bid. My lawyer Dr. Reinhard Marx has worked very hard to put together an argument so strong that I am confident that we will prevail. Even though many people have donated their time to this herculean quest, we still are in need of funding. The main areas of need are for the legal costs, travel costs for various events and personal costs. I understand that people are skeptical about personal costs, but one must understand that I am limited to what I can earn so long as I am in school. I have 18 months to go before I finish my apprenticeship, and then I am able to fly on my own. However in the mean time I would love to travel to different parts of Germany and give talks on the current geo-political situation and also to raise awareness about my case and others in Canada. I do not wish to put an extra burden on the groups who have helped since the beginning; they have done so much and also need funds for their worthy projects as well. Any help would be appreciated, as every dollar and Euro donated will be one step closer to attaining asylum, creating a potential safe haven for deserters and conscientious objectors, and helping to push our destiny towards peace, instead of war.
I pray that God will keep you all safe in these interesting times. I hope to write again soon in the near future. Do not forget, this summer is Bradley Manning´s Court Martial. I urge everyone to support this wonderful resister in every way possible! Talk to you all soon!