Victory press conference, SF 10/8/09

Courage to Resist. October 8, 2009

Courage to Resist was delighted to join the Lt. Ehren Watada victory press conference organized by Asian Americans for Peace and Justice this morning in San Francisco Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square park. Ehren was the first military officer to publicly speak out against and refuse to deploy to Iraq back in June 2006. In February 2007, Ehren stood before a general court martial and faced seven years in the stockade as over a 1,000 supporters rallied nearby at the gates of Fort Lewis, WA.

To celebrate Ehren’s long-awaited discharge last week, artist Betty Kano encircled the speakers’ podium with a traditional drum-call and poets and members of the community spoke out. Ehren never spent a day in the stockade and never backed down from his assertion that the Iraq War was and remains an illegal occupation. To understand how this victory came about, please checkout out “How Lt. Watada and GI resistance movement beat the Army” by Jeff Paterson, February 14, 2007.


Mark Jensen, United for Peace of Pierce County, WA. October 3, 2009

Some 1,213 days after he publicly declared his refusal to obey orders to deploy with his unit to Iraq on the grounds that the war there is illegal under national and international law, Ehren Watada was discharged from the U.S. Army on Friday morning, Oct. 2, 2009, at Fort Lewis, the News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) reported Saturday. Watada made no comment; his lawyer said that he wanted to “reclaim his privacy and anonymity,” Scott Fontaine said. — The Army, too, invoked privacy, refusing to comment on the type of discharge Watada received. — It was a curiously muted ending to a three-and-one-half-year saga that began on Jun. 7, 2006, when Ehren Watada gave a press conference at Associated Ministries in Tacoma in a room packed with press and supporters. — But lawyer Ken Kagan said that Watada “doesn’t fear retribution from the Army and made no agreements to stay silent.” — Except for a few news service squibs, the press paid little attention to the dénouement of the Watada story. — Local antiwar activists who offered moral support during his long ordeal expressed satisfaction that the Army has finally allowed Watada to resign, Fontaine reported in a separate News Tribune article. Rafu Shimpo, a newspaper of the Los Angeles Japanese-American community, published a reporter’s reminiscence of the 2007 court-martial.