“This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate… I refuse to participate in the occupation of Iraq.”
Courage to Resist. Updated May 28, 2008
Sgt. Matthis Chiroux served in the Army until being honorably discharged from active duty last summer after over four years in Afghanistan, Japan, Europe and the Philippines. On May 15, 2008 he publicly announced that he is refusing orders to be recalled from the Army’s Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) to deploy to Iraq. Matthis took this courageous stand in the Cannon House Office Building Rotunda after fellow members of Iraq Veterans Against the War testified before the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Sgt. Matthis Chiroux. May 15, 2008
Good afternoon. My name is Sgt. Matthis Chiroux, and I served in the Army as a Photojournalist until being honorably discharged last summer after over four years of service in Afghanistan, Japan, Europe and the Philippines. As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter servicemember’s stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me. Never again will I fail to stand.
In February, I received a letter from the Army ordering my return to active duty, for the purpose of mobilization for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Thanks in great part to the truths of war being fearlessly spoken by my fellow IVAW members, I stand before you today with the strength, clarity and resolve to declare to the military and the world that this Soldier will not be deploying to Iraq.
This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate as I will surely be a party to war crimes. Furthermore, deployment in support of illegal war violates all of my core values as a human being, but in keeping with those values, I choose to remain in the United States to defend myself from charges brought by the Army if they so wish to pursue them. I refuse to participate in the occupation of Iraq.
Message to Supporters,
May 28, 2008
I am left with few words to express my gratitude for your many heartfelt messages of unity which have given me hope for a nation and a people that was all but lost in my once bitter heart.
I have drawn so much strength this past week from the thousands of you who’ve chosen to stand by me, in these, the most trying times of my young life.
When I first received my call up last February, my soul collapsed under the weight of sorrow I felt for my self, my country, the Iraqi people and the world. I felt alone and abandoned, and I saw no chance to make things right.
But then I found Iraq Veterans Against the War who lifted me up and made me believe again that another world is possible, and who introduced me to all of you who have reinvigorated my ability to love again, and stand for what I know is right.
Your support energizes me, and helps me walk the path of peace which may lead me through the dens of hell. I move forward now in the most critical days of my life to not only end a war, but move an exhausted people who have been trampled by six years of lies and hardships.
We all know this war is wrong and must be ended immediately. We know the government is failing the individuals who have offered their lives in service to our nation, and deserve our utmost respect and deepest commitment to ensuring their needs are met. We know the Iraqi people have suffered more in five years than many nations do in a life-time. But we have chosen to do and stand by what is right and true, and we cannot loose for the truth is on our side.
For the next month I’ll be in Washington DC, where I will be working tirelessly to prepare my defense and hopefully continue finding pockets of support in the U.S. Congress and the nation at large.
On June 15th, rather than reporting to the Army, I will announce that I will not deploy to Iraq, and when I do, I will know you are out there standing by my side.
I am in awe of you. In the past week, I have received letters from almost every state in the union and many counties abroad. You are the people that history will remember as the brave and righteous who stood in a time of crises and said no matter what the cost, we will bring about freedom, justice and peace.
My heart swells to stand with you, my friends, and may others be moved to stand as well. Together, we will heal the wounds of this nation, and together, we will ensure a future for a country that our children and the world may be proud of.
Please be sure to join the IVAW email list to get updates on what I’m doing and the work that my brothers and sisters in Iraq Veterans Against the War are undertaking this summer (There’s a yellow box at ivaw.org where you can add your email to the list).
Its hard to tell at this point how the military will respond to my stand, but we need to be ready for whatever reaction they have. If you’re able to donate to IVAW’s legal fund to help me and other members get ready for this fight, I’d appreciate it. You can find donate online at ivaw.org/support.
Peace and Solidarity,