AWOL Soldier Andre Shepherd Receives German Media Award
The conferment of Tageszeitung (taz) Panther Award was given to U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd. In 2008 Shepherd filed an application for permanent asylum in Germany, after refusing his second deployment to Iraq. “In the war of aggression against the Iraqi people, the United States violated not only domestic law, but international law as well,” said Shepherd, “My applying for asylum is based on the grounds that international law has been broken and that I do not want to be forced to fight in an illegal war.” “[We are] honoring an Iraq war veteran whose fate made him a symbolic figure,” editor Bernd Pickert said at the award ceremony, “André Shepherd has done what is prohibited to soldiers: he made a decision. Alone. He took his life into his own hands and said: I am not doing this anymore.” Read more
Manning Lawyer Hired, Advisory Panel Formed
We were tremendously relieved when Chelsea Manning was able to finally hire an experienced and qualified civilian defense attorney. Manning selected attorney David Coombs of Providence to lead his legal defense. Coombs had over a decade of experience as a military trial lawyer and is a former law professor at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia. “From our first communications with [Chelsea], back when he was still jailed in Kuwait, we pledged to support and fund his choice of civilian legal representation,” said Jeff Paterson, “We’re happy to begin fulfilling that promise by transferring funds raised to Mr. Coombs for his retainer and initial legal fees.” The Chelsea Manning Support Network was also pleased to announce the formation of an Advisory Board comprised of prominent individuals who are widely respected for their efforts in resisting war and government transparency. Read more
Bay Area Events in Support of Chelsea Manning
Courage to Resist hosted a benefit for the Chelsea Manning Defense Fund featuring: Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower; US Army Col. Ann Wright (ret.), former US diplomat; Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst; Aimee Allison, author and KPFA Morning Show host. We screened WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” video at Humanist Hall. Two days later we helped organize a march and rally in support of Manning. Read more
Our First Call to Defend Chelsea Manning
After the Army charged Manning for her leaks and threatened a sentence of up to 52 years in jail for sharing the “Collateral Murder” video, Courage to Resist, along with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Veterans for Peace, launched an effort to support her. “There is plenty of intrigue swirling around Bradley’s case, from Lady Gaga to the role of international hackers,” we said in a statement, “However, in the middle of all that stands a young [woman] who made a heroic choice to expose the crimes being committed in our names. We’ll do whatever possible to support [her].” Read more
GI Resistance at the US Social Forum
Along with the Civilian-Soldier Alliance and Iraq Veterans Against the War, Courage to Resist lead a workshop at the US Social Forum in Detroit. The workshop was led by veterans and civilian allies who are organizing within the military and veteran communities against the occupations in the Middle East. The workshop featured an overview of the history of military resistance and an introductory training on supporting war resisters. Read more
Bay Area Events Celebrate International Conscientious Objectors’ Day
Courage to Resist was proud to be involved with two San Francisco events commemorating International Conscientious Objectors’ Day. First, Courage to Resist and Berkeley Arts Festival presented “Soldiers of Conscience”, a film by Berkeley directors Gary Weimberg and Catherine Ryan. Then we helped celebrate the 4th Annual Berkeley C.O. and War Resisters’ Day by raising Peace Flags alongside war resisters from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Read more
Marc Hall Discharged
We celebrated a huge victory for specialist Marc A Hall after the US Army announced that the “Stop-loss” objector would not be court martialed but discharged immediately. The Army jailed Hall in retaliation for a formal complaint of inadequate mental health services available to him. The military cited a rap song that Hall had produced as the pretext for the court martial. “Spc Marc Hall pled guilty..to producing a hip-hop song the Army didn’t like in exchange for his freedom,” explained Courage to Resist’s Jeff Paterson, “It’s utterly outrageous that Army spokespersons continued to slander Marc today. Despite the Army having stacked everything against Marc—including moving the scheduled trial from Ft. Stewart, Georgia to Iraq—supporters overcame each obstacle in order to provide Marc with a fighting chance for justice. In the end, we won.” Read more
War Resister Travis Bishop Released
“War on Terror” resistor Travis Bishop was released from Fort Lewis today, despite originally being sentenced to 12 months in prison in a court-martial at Fort Hood, Texas for refusing to deploy for reasons of conscience. Bishop’s case gained international attention and he was recognized by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience. Read more
Single Mom Alexis Hutchinson Wins Discharge
We celebrated a victory in February after Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, a single-mother in the Army who missed deployment when her childcare plans fell through, was granted an administrative discharge from the Army, as opposed to being sent to Afghanistan or jail. “Without Courage to Resist, I would be in jail,” Hutchinson declared after being released. Read more
Dialogues Against Militarism Report from Israel/Palestine
Important report from Sarah Lazare, former Courage to Resist Project Coordinator, and Iraq War resister Stephen Funk who traveled throughout Israel/Palestine. “During our time in Tel Aviv, we have learned much about Israeli war resistance movements and how they are situated in the broader movement against occupation,” wrote Stephen, “Refusers have talked to us about being isolated from their families and peers, in a society where military refusal is often treated like high treason. Former soldiers talk about their experiences carrying out acts of brutality and occupation, and the work they do now to fight for justice.” Read more
Courage to Resist Campaign Wins Army Objector Discharge
We launched a campaign to “Free Army conscientious objector Dustin Stevens and the end illegal pre-trial punishment of the Fort Bragg 50!” and we did just that! Dustin Stevens was one of about 50 soldiers held at the 82nd Holdover Unit awaiting likely AWOL charges. They were held in poor living conditions, endured verbal abuse, and subjected to arbitrary punishments. “I am eternally grateful for the help that I received from Courage to Resist and others like them,” declared Dustin upon his release, “But I am far from finished. My fight is for every single person that has the right to choose. The men and women that share a cell because of their refusal to fight. I will fight for the soldiers with a conscience. I will not stop my fight, ever.” Read more
Courage to Resist Joins Vandenberg Protest
Members of Courage to Resist from the San Francisco area joined other opponents of U.S. military policy outside Vandenberg Air Force Base to protest the launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Read more
Supporting GI Resistance Workshop
For the third consecutive year, Courage to Resist presented a workshop on supporting GI resistance at the annual Veterans For Peace / Iraq Veterans Against the War Convention. 2009’s workshop was held at the University of Maryland. Read more
Courage to Resist Rally Outside the Canadian Consulate in SF
This rally was in support of Kimberly Rivera, a mother of three, wife, and soldier of conscience living in Canada. Read more
Case Against Iraq War refuser Lt. Ehren Watada Dropped
Courage to Resist supporters took action and asked the Solicitor General to drop the Army’s appeals against Iraq War refuser Lt. Ehren Watada. Our efforts were successful! At the request of the Justice Department, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dropped the government’s case against Watada, which Courage to Resist followed closely for three years. Read more
Mothers Speak Out on War and Terror
Courage to Resist co-founder Susan Galleymore made headlines when she traveled to Iraq to visit her US Army son. We celebrated her publishing a book titled “Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak Out About War and Terror”. “My first real encounter with the vast horror that is war was meeting Holocaust survivors when I was a child,” Galleymore wrote, “Then I had reacted by imagining how I would steel myself for hearing the worst news. But now, try as I might, I couldn’t hold for more than a few seconds the thought of my own child’s direct involvement: the pain was overwhelming. I couldn’t imagine how mothers could—how I might have to—adjust to the unthinkable: the death or maiming of a beloved child, the nightmare vision of that child killing or maiming others.” Read more
Courage to Resist on Democracy Now!
Courage to Resist’s Jeff Paterson appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss Obama and Afghanistan. “I think that if a people’s movement can be created, I think there’s a possibility of a victory down the road, but it’s not going to happen without us sort of forming our collective people power to force that change.” Read more
March on the Pentagon 3/21
Many people, including Courage to Resist members and war resisters, marched in Washington to protest the Iraq War. One of the march organizers was James Circello who deserted the U.S. Army in 2007 and refused to participate in the occupations. Read more
GI Resisters Gather in Chicago
The panel of military veterans was organized by the Chicago chapter of Iraq Veterans against the War (IVAW). “They need this war [in Afghanistan] to continue to expand the military-industrial complex,” declared veteran Tyler Zabel, “which our society now depends on.” Zabel called on the audience to close the door to recruitment and open the door to resistance. Read more
National Week of Letter Writing For War Resisters
We asked allies of the G.I. resistance movement to gather together to write letters to war resisters. Participants were asked to organize letter-writing campaigns around the sixth anniversary of the Iraq War and acknowledge the brave troops who have refused to fight. Read more
Organizing Training for Active duty Troops
Courage to Resist organizers helped conduct training for Iraq Veterans Against the War members who were on active duty. Ten active duty members representing five military bases participated in the training held at the Coffee Strong G.I. coffeehouse. Read more
Throw-A-Shoe at Bush! Event
Iraqi Journalist Muntader al-Zaidi famously threw his shoes at Bush while yelling, “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq!” We held an event to symbolically join him before Bush left office. Read more
Objectors gather in St. Paul, Minnesota, protest RNC
Organized a workshop at the Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War National Conventions in St. Paul, Minnesota featuring active duty Army Sgt. Selena Coppa, conscientious objector Spc. Benjamin “Hart” Viges, and Sgt. Matthis Chiroux—currently publicly refusing recall from the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) for Iraq deployment. Also, CTR helped stage protests outside of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Supported War Resister Robin Long after Canada Deportation
Army Spc. Robin Long became the first U.S. war resister to be deported from Canada. CTR took up his political and civilian legal defense. Following a court martial where Spc. Long faced three years in the stockade for desertion, he was sentenced to 15 months. He was released in June 2009 from the Miramar Naval Brig.
Staged events at 14 Canadian Consulates, organized letter campaign
Staged events at 14 Canadian Consulates across the U.S. in support of U.S. war resisters seeking refuge in Canada. War resisters Corey Glass and Joshua Key were granted last minute reprieves from deportation. After CTR sent over 10,000 letters to Canadian officials in support of U.S. war resisters seeking sanctuary, the Canadian Parliament made an historic vote in favor of allowing war resisters to remain in Canada. The Conservative government immediately pledged to ignore the vote.
Iraq War resister Army Specialist Ryan Jackson
Took up the political and legal defense of Iraq War resister Army Specialist. Ryan Jackson. Following an unsuccessful attempt at a conscientious objector discharge, Spc. Jackson was sentenced to 100 days in the stockade.
“Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan”
Dedicated five weeks of staff time to the organizing and production of “Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan” staged by Iraq Veterans Against the War near Washington, DC in order to expose the untold stories of these brutal occupations.
Michael Thurman wins conscientious objector discharge
Active-duty US Air Force Airman, turned Courage to Resist organizer, won a conscientious objector discharge from the Air Force.
“Dear Canada: Let them stay”
Staff members traveled to Ottawa, Canada to attend the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of the House of Commons, and to meet with U.S. war resisters and their Canadian supporters. The committee adopted a motion that was a critical victory for U.S. Iraq War resisters seeking sanctuary. Led allies to stage events at eight Canadian Consulates across the U.S. in support of U.S. war resisters seeking refuge in Canada. Thousands of “Dear Canada: Let them stay” letters and petitions were delivered to Consulate officials.
Resister Mark Wikerson freed, welcomed at VFP Convention
Organized a workshop at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri with Army Spc. Mark Wilkerson immediately following his release from seven months in the stockade for refusing to return to Iraq.
Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo jailed, released, & speaking tours
Organized California and Pacific Northwest speaking tours with Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo immediately following his release from a US military prison in Germany. Tour events focused on Spanish-speaking communities of color, including Watsonville, Sacramento, and Stockton. Earlier in 2007, Courage to Resist staff member went to Germany in order to support Agustin and his family during his court martial at the US military base at Manheim. He was sentenced to eight months in the stockade, but had been held in pre-trial confinement for six months prior to his court martial. CTR toured Germany speaking with local peace organizers.
Mass Protest at Trial of Iraq War Resister Lt. Ehren Watada
Played a leading role in organizing a rally of over 1,000 persons near the gates of Fort Lewis, Washington in support of Lt. Ehren Watada during his court martial. This public outpouring of support was a key factor in the military choosing to halt the trial by declaring a mistrial. Lt. Watada continues to serve in the Army while fighting for an honorable discharge.
Supported Army Specialist Suzanne Swift
Worked to support Army Specialist Suzanne Swift who refused to return to Iraq after having been the victim of command rape. Spc. Swift’s mother, Sara Rich, is now a CTR organizer. Also helped organize the “Citizens’ Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq: The Case of Lt. Ehren Watada” in Tacoma, Washington featuring Daniel Ellsberg, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday, Professor Richard Falk, and Army Colonel Ann Wright (ret.)
International Days of Action to Support GI Rights and GI Resistance
Organized the “International Days of Action to Support G.I. Rights and G.I. Resistance” led by resister family members, including a San Francisco, California event with Maxine Hong Kingston that ended with a march to City Hall.
Objector Agustin Aguayo LA Press Conference
Helped organize a large press conference in Los Angeles, California for Army medic Agustin Aguayo. Following his unsuccessful two-year bid to win a conscientious objector discharge from the Army, Specialist Aguayo refused to return to Iraq for a second tour. Spc. Aguayo, upon his release from eight months in the stockade, became a CTR organizer.
The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada
Met with Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, and later took the lead in establishing “The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada” working group in the weeks prior to Lt. Watada’s public refusal to deploy to Iraq on constitutional grounds.
A National Day of Action to Support GI War Resisters
CTR was launched with “A National Day of Action to Support G.I. War Resisters” with actions in many cities around the country, including an event in San Francisco, California which was featured in the New York Times. CTR also staged the first of two counter-recruitment events outside of the Oakland, California military recruiting station featuring performances by local youth. The military has since shutdown this recruitment center.
Rally to Support Navy Resister Pablo Paredes
CTR members helped organize public support rallies outside of Pablo Paredes’ court martial in San Diego, California.
Organization starts to come together
Community members and veterans begin holding ad-hoc meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area in order to find better ways of supporting military war objectors. During this period, high profile war resisters Army Staff Sergeants Camilo Mejia and Kevin Benderman, and Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, all publicly took individual stands against the Iraq War and refused to fight. A few months later, this group of individuals settled on the Courage to Resist name.
Stephen Funk publicly resists Iraq Deployment
Founding members of the future Courage to Resist project organized the political and legal support of Marine L/Cpl Stephen Funk—the first military serviceperson to publicly refuse to fight in Iraq. Following a community gathering and press conference in San Jose, California, supporters travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana to organize local support and attend the court martial. L/Cpl Funk was sentenced to six months in the stockade.