Category Archives: GI Resistance

One Year after Fort Hood: The Missing Story of Muslim Peacemaking

Today, November 5, 2010, marks the one-year anniversary of the Fort Hood shooting, in which former Army psychiatrist Major Nadal Halik Hasan shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, wounding 42 others. As U.S. servicemembers and the families of the victims of this shooting grieved for those who were killed and Americans mourned the loss of life, reports on these crimes riveted the mainstream media. The shootings were certainly newsworthy. The problem is that almost the only time Muslims are featured in the U.S. news media is when a Muslim engages in an act of violence. A one-sided focus on violence committed by some Muslims fuels the racist narrative that “Islam is a religion of violence”—which underwrites the so-called “Global War on Terror.”

In spite of ongoing efforts by many in the Muslim religious community and Muslim-American organizations, the long and vital history of Muslim peacemaking has been lost in the avalanche of reports on Muslims where the mainstream media connects them only with violent extremism. The lack of acknowledgment and recognition in the U.S. of Muslim peacemakers continues to have grave effects on Muslims all over the world as well as those at home in the U.S. In addition, the ongoing hyper-focus by the U.S. state and mainstream media on Islamic militants to the exclusion of those Muslims whose peacemaking efforts oppose militarism of all kinds continues to prop up and justify ongoing U.S.-backed military occupations, including those of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine.

Private First Class Naser Abdo, a 20-year-old Muslim servicemember currently serving in the U.S. Army and seeking Conscientious Objector (C.O.) status on the grounds of Islam, is a Muslim peacemaker. He states, “As I studied Islam and Islam’s commitment to peace, I developed an entirely new perspective on war and conscience… That’s when I realized my conscience would not allow me to deploy.” Pfc. Abdo’s C.O. case still awaits an Army recommendation of discharge from the military based on moral, ethical, and religious objection to all wars. Abdo is facing possible deployment to Afghanistan in spite of his C.O. claim, though Army commanders decided to delay his deployment after he went public with his case. Speaking out as a Muslim, Abdo is against war and has been working with nonviolent antiwar organizations including the War Resisters League and Quaker House in Fayetteville, NC on building public support for his objection to war on the grounds of Islam.

Several Muslim-American organizations in the U.S., such as the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, have been key supporters of Pfc. Abdo’s claim for Conscientious Objector status based on the principles of Islam. In a statement released by this organization in support of Pfc. Abdo, long-time Muslim peacemaker and antimilitarist Ibrahim Ramey states, “We believe that his position is not a product of personal cowardice or disloyalty to his nation, but rather, a coherent expression of his faith and his personal belief in the tenets and laws of the religion of Islam.” In a separate statement, Ramey further underscores the U.S. government and mainstream media blackout of Muslim opposition to militarism: “Major Muslim efforts for peace-making in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other conflict spots are virtually unknown to U.S. news consumers, and even to policy makers. In my opinion, this phenomenon plays into the hands of institutions that seek to permanently militarize the U.S. economy by creating the illusion that Muslims are ‘the enemy’ and must therefore be controlled or eliminated for the sake of ‘democracy.'”

Many other Muslim organizations also attest to the importance of U.S. recognition of Muslim peacemaking efforts. In “An Open Letter to President Obama” sent on the eve of his visit to Egypt to address the Muslim World in May 2009, 1,600 American-Muslim and non-Muslim scholars on the Middle East called on the U.S. government to recognize nonviolent Muslim leaders: “For too long, American policy in the Middle East has been paralyzed by fear of Islamist parties coming to power…However, most mainstream Islamist groups in the region are nonviolent and respect the democratic process.” This letter further urges the U.S. to discontinue its support for violent political regimes in Central Asia and support democracy through peaceful policies: “The United States, for half a century, has frequently supported repressive regimes that routinely violate human rights, and that torture and imprison those who dare criticize them and prevent their citizens from participation in peaceful civic and political activities…There is no doubt that the people of the Middle East long for greater freedom and democracy…What they need from your administration is a commitment to encourage political reform not through wars, threats, or imposition, but through peaceful policies that reward governments that take active and measurable steps towards genuine democratic reforms.”

Despite the ongoing work of Muslim peacemakers and antimilitarists, Muslims living both inside and outside of the U.S. continue to feel the deeply negative effects of the dominant culture’s association of Muslims with terrorism and violence, often referred to as “Islamophobia.” In the U.S. military, Pfc. Abdo experienced a great deal of harassment and discrimination from his fellow servicemembers: “Early in basic training… one soldier repeatedly insulted me and Islam saying, ‘Go pray to your god that doesn’t exist or your pedophile prophet.’…During the training cycle I persistently reassured my comrades that my religion did not make me an enemy of theirs or an enemy of the state. The climax of this harassment occurred when my comrades all made a concerted effort to get me an unwanted discharge because I was not welcome in their ranks.”

These acts mirror the broader U.S. climate of discrimination against Muslims, as evidenced in the media craze surrounding the “Ground Zero Mosque,” otherwise known as the proposed construction of the Park 51 Muslim Community Center in Lower Manhattan. The association of Islam with terror also served to spark the “International Burn-a-Quran Day” controversy out of Gainesville, Florida, which made national headlines on the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Just a few short weeks ago, a white New York City passenger named Michael Enright shouted, “Asalamualaykum, consider this a checkpoint!” prior to slashing the throat of Ahmad Sharif, the Muslim cab driver.

Furthermore, U.S.-backed war and occupation has been disastrous for Muslims living all over the world. The Iraq War Logs, which include close to 400,000 classified U.S. Army intelligence documents, were recently released by Wikileaks and include accounts of the violent deaths of 66,081 Iraqi civilians, along with reports by the military that confirm widespread killing and abuse of Iraqi civilians by U.S. military forces and U.S. contractors. The documents also reveal U.S. military instructions from high up the chain of command to ignore detainee abuse by Iraqi authorities. In the U.S.-led counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan, there has been 31% increase in Afghan civilian deaths and a staggering 55% increase in child casualties so far this year as a result of the war, according to the latest statistics from the United Nations. The U.S. is also conducting air strikes and Special Forces operations in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia and is slated to send $3 billion in military aid to Israel for FY2011 in support of its military occupation of Palestine.

The abuse and killing of Muslims isn’t an accidental byproduct of the U.S. military pursuit of a select group of Muslim extremists. It is the direct result and the intended effect of the U.S. government decision to go to war in pursuit of military-backed power in Central and South Asia. When the mainstream media in the US focuses solely on Muslims as violent extremists, it acts to provide a justification for these wars. The direct link made between Islam and terror also provides cover for waging war against a people, not simply targeting a few individuals, because according to this narrative, any Muslim could be a terrorist.

It is for this reason that we as people living in the U.S. must work to undo the deeply harmful effects of this narrative on the lives of Muslims living both in the U.S. and abroad and construct new narratives not premised on the logic of war and imperialism. We must lift up the stories and ongoing work of Muslim peacemakers like Naser Abdo. We must continue to make the connections between the over-amplification of violent acts committed by small groups of Islamic militants and the ongoing need for the U.S. government to attempt to justify unjust war and occupation. In a statement in a press conference earlier last month, Pfc. Abdo was clear in making this connection:

“In reference to ‘Islamophobia’ as it pertains to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan there is much that I have come to understand as a Muslim Conscientious Objector. As a Conscientious Objector, I am morally disinclined to associate terror with Islam as is often the case during routine training exercises…To a soldier, the association of terror and Islam serves the purpose of falsely justifying ones actions in combat by stripping Muslims of their humanity. The association of terror and Islam is what we now refer to as ‘Islamophobia.’…It is as if the U.S. public is just recently following a trend that has been rampant in the military for years. Only when the military and America can disassociate Muslims from terror can we move onto a brighter future of religious collaboration and dialogue that defines America and makes me proud to be an American.”

For more information on Naser Abdo’s case, go to www.freenasserabdo.org.

Also, check out this article that will appear in the Fall issue of Fellowship magazine by Ibrahim Ramey:
For more info on Muslim peacemaking, see also Rabia Harris’s piece “On Islamic Nonviolence” in Fellowship:

WRL supports G.I. statement on the Iraq War Logs

Join WRL in supporting Iraq Veterans against the War’s official statement on the release of the Iraq War Logs. The voices and leadership of veterans and servicemembers is crucial for building up nonviolent resistance movements to war and occupation.The main point that the War Logs release delivers loud and clear was that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with building up the voices and participation of the Iraqi people in their government, but rather about systematically denying Iraqis the possibly of participation of any kind through U.S.-backed government repression no different from that suffered under Hussein.

To become a civilian ally supporter of IVAW’s campaign work, check out the Operation Recovery webpage at http://www.ivaw.org/operation-recovery.

IVAW Statement on the Iraq War Logs – A Call for Accountability

The recent Wikileaks release–The Iraq War Logs–has shed important light on the high rate of civilian death and widespread atrocities, including torture, that are endemic to the war in Iraq. As veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are outraged that the U.S. government sought to hide this information from the U.S. public, instead presenting a sanitized and deceptive version of war, and we think it is vital for this and further information to get out. Members of IVAW have experienced firsthand the realities of war on the ground, and since our inception we have spoken out about similar atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are asking the U.S. public to join us in calling on our government to end the occupations and bring our brothers and sisters home.

The U.S. government has been claiming for years that they do not keep count of civilian death tolls, yet the recent releases show that they do, in fact, keep count. Between 2004 and 2009, according to these newly disclosed records, at least 109,032 Iraqis died, 66,081 of whom were civilians. The Guardian reports that the Iraq War Logs show that the U.S. military and government gave de facto approval for hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape, and murder by Iraqi soldiers and police officers. These recent revelations, along with the Afghan War Diaries and Collateral Murder footage, weave a picture of wars in which the rules of engagement allow for excessive violence, woven into the fabric of daily life with the U.S. military presence acting as a destabilizing and brutalizing force. The Iraq War Logs, while crucial, are reports produced in real time and themselves may be slanted to minimize the culpability of U.S. forces. Still, they represent an important part of evidence in assessing the reality of the Iraq war, evidence that can only be improved by the further release of documents and information and corroboration by individuals involved. To this end, our members are reviewing both Wikileaks’ Afghanistan War Diaries and the Iraq War Logs to identify incidents we were part of and to shed more light on what really happened.

IVAW has been speaking out about these atrocities and abuses since our inception. Our organization is comprised of over 2,000 veterans and active duty troops who have served since September 11, 2001. We demand immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, reparations for the people of those countries, and full benefits for returning veterans, including mental healthcare. At our March 2008 Winter Soldier hearings in Maryland, more than fifty veterans and active-duty service members publicly testified about the orders they were told to carry out in these countries, sharing stories of excessive violence, trauma, and abuse.
Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord, two IVAW members who were in the unit captured in the Wikileaks “Collateral Murder” video, have spoken out about how the incidents caught on film are not isolated cases of ‘a few bad soldiers’ but rather, part of the nature of these wars. “There has been little accountability in the wars that my friends and I once thought represented everything that was noble about our country,” wrote Stieber in anticipation of the Iraq War Logs. In an open letter, Stieber calls for policy makers to “take accountability for these wars and the full truth about them.” 

As veterans, we know that the violence documented in the Iraq War Logs traumatizes the people living under occupation. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also have been marked by staggering rates of military trauma and suicide among the troops tasked with carrying out these orders. Last year, 239 soldiers killed themselves and 1,713 soldiers survived suicide attempts; 146 soldiers died from high-risk activities, including 74 drug overdoses. A third of returning troops report mental health problems, and 18.5 percent of all returning service members are battling either Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation. Our Operation Recovery campaign, launched on October 7, seeks to end the cruel and inhumane practice of redeploying troops suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Military Sexual Trauma, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other mental and physical wounds–a practice that underlies the continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Critics attacking Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s character are attempting to use ad hominem arguments to detract from the real issues and divert public attention from the content of the Iraq War Logs. We urge honest and thorough discussion of the content of these documents, and we think this discussion must not be sidelined. Furthermore, with past Wikileaks revelations, U.S. administration and military authorities were quick to vilify Army Specialist Bradley Manning who is being accused of leaking these documents to the public. Yet we insist that it is the right of the U.S. public to have accurate information about wars that are being fought in our name and funded by our tax dollars, and we support the public sharing of this information. Exposing war crimes is not a crime.
Government deception is inexcusable. Authorities have kept this information secret in the name of ‘national security,’ but what they really are afraid of is public opinion, which they know will turn against them if the truth about these wars gets out in the mainstream. An accurate count of Iraqi dead, acknowledgment of torture, and full disclosure of the role of private contractors are facts that should be made public in a democracy. We believe that real national security is created where government transparency and accountability, free press, and an end to spending on illegal wars and occupations are the norm. Continued silence and secrecy is a grave threat to the security of the Iraqi and Afghan people, and we demand openness, accountability, and real discussion of these revelations.
We grieve for the Iraqi and Afghan lives that were lost and destroyed in these wars. We also grieve for our brothers and sisters in arms, who have been lost to battle or suicide. The Iraq War Logs bring home part of the harsh reality of these wars, a reality that we–as veterans–live with everyday. We demand a real end to both wars, including immediate withdrawal of the 50,000 “non-combat” troops who remain in the Iraq. The Iraq War Logs underscore the urgent need for peace, healing, and reparations for all who have been harmed by these wars. The first step is to bring our brothers and sisters home. 

In Solidarity, 

Iraq Veterans Against the War

NYC Press Conference–9 Years of Occupation and War in Afghanistan

NINE YEARS INTO AFGHAN WAR, U.S. VETERANS, COMMUNITY GROUPS, AND GLOBAL JUSTICE ACTIVISTS SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Photos available for reproduction at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/54613299@N03/sets/72157625115412508/

Listen to the Free Speech Radio News: Activists outline renewed strategy to end nine-year Afghan war

Washington Square News: Protesters rally against war in Afghanistan

Speakers included:

1. Prachi Patankar — South Asia Solidarity Initiative

2. Malalai Joya — elected to National Assembly of Afghanistan in 2005; the “bravest woman in Afghanistan”; chosen for the 2010 “TIME 100”  (audio statement recorded in Canada the day before)

3. David Wildman — United Methodist Church’s Board of Global Ministries; co-author of the book “Ending the U.S. War in Afghanistan

4. Kimber Heinz — National Organizing Coordinator of War Resisters League

5. Madiha Tahir – journalist reporting from Pakistan; South Asia Solidarity Initiative; Action for a Progressive Pakistan

6. Roger Wareham — Freedom Party of New York State

7. Fatima Hindi — Iraqi refugee organizer based in Chicago

8. Maritza Bravo — Vamos Unidos organizing Latino youth and street vendors

9. Fitzroy Searles — organizer with One Nation Working Together, which mobilized many tens of thousands to Washington DC on Oct 2.

10. Nasser Abdo — U.S. Army Private First Class, and Conscientious Objector [written statement]

11. Selena Coppa — Iraq Veterans Against the War

12. Charles Barron — City Council Member from Brooklyn; candidate for governor, Freedom Party of New York State

13. Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid — Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem

October 7, 2010, New York, NY —On Thursday morning on the ninth anniversary of the U.S.-NATO invasion of Afghanistan, a cross-section of veterans, community groups, and global justice organizations held a press conference in support of the united message that the ongoing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is bad for Afghan people of all genders, bad for U.S. soldiers, and bad for the people of the U.S.

Former Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya issued a statement about the Obama administration’s policy in Afghanistan, citing it as a major cause of the dire situation faced by Afghan women: “During Obama’s [time in] office the death toll increased by 24% as compared to the Bush administration. Their policies are a mirror image of each other. Democracy never comes by occupation forces…by cluster bombs or by white phosphorous. Under the banner of women’s rights, human rights, and democracy they occupied Afghanistan. Today’s situation of women is as catastrophic as it was under the domination of Taliban. Rape cases, acid attacks, killing of women is increasing rapidly.”

Members of the veterans organization Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) spoke on the day of the national launch of their Operation Recovery campaign, which calls for the right of current servicemembers who are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or other forms of trauma caused by past or current deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan to refuse future deployments. Published medical studies in 2008 and 2010 estimate that 20-50% of all service members deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan have likely suffered from PTSD. IVAW member and organizer Selena Coppa stated, “Veterans are sick and tired of the never-ending occupations. The U.S. military is strained. We are launching a new campaign defending our traumatized brothers and sisters’ right to heal without being deployed [for another tour].”

IVAW organizers also read a statement from current U.S. servicemember and Conscientious Objector Naser Abdo about Islamophobia in the U.S. that has followed the attacks on 9/11 and its connections to war from the perspective of a Muslim C.O.: “To a soldier, the association of terror and Islam serves the purpose of falsely justifying ones actions in combat by stripping Muslims of their humanity. The association of terror and Islam is what we now refer to as Islamaphobia…it is as if the US public is just recently following a trend that has been rampant in the military for years. Only when the military and America can disassociate Muslims with terror can we move onto a brighter future of the religious collaboration and dialogue that defines America and makes me proud to be an American.”

Madiha Tahir with Action for Progressive Pakistan and the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, spoke as a journalist about her recent trip to Pakistan: “What has gone unacknowledged in the war on what is referred to as ‘Af-Pak’ is that there is a war in Pakistan and that it is a separate war than the war going on in Afghanistan. This war goes unacknowledged here [in the U.S.] but there are very real human costs of it in Pakistan…If the concern of the U.S…is democracy in Pakistan, then it must work with the democratic forces in Pakistan—that means elected representatives and democracy movements.”

Maritza Bravo, with the youth project of Vamos Unidos, a Latino immigrant street vendors organization, spoke about the DREAM act, a proposed piece of legislation that would grant undocumented youth the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency if they complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning, as a reinforcing the militarization of young people in the U.S. and the escalation of war abroad: “We, the Vamos Unidos youth, do not support the DREAM Act due to the military component. The DREAM Act is a de facto military draft, forcing undocumented youth to fight in unjust wars in exchange for the recognition as human beings, a Green Card.”

City Councilmember Charles Barron and Roger Wareham from the Freedom Party of NY State spoke to the effects of the war in the U.S. and to the value of social movements against war. Wareham stated that much of our resources at home “are being squandered in Afghanistan and Iraq, resources that need to be put back into this economy for the welfare of the majority of the population.” Councilmember Barron stated,”We are living in the richest city in the world yet we have the number one impoverished district in the country. Enough is enough–people need to rise up and say ‘no’ to war, ‘no’ to any forms of invading the privacy of anti-war activists by way of the FBI, [and ‘no’ to] any forms of that suppression of the right of people to rise up in dissent against an unjust and immoral war.”

Fitzroy Searles, youth and Brooklyn-area organizer for the October 2 One Nation Working Together rally in Washington D.C. also pointed to the costs of the war at home from his perspective as an organizer working closely with labor unions in the run-up to October 2: “We all want to see an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not only do they cost us in human lives, but they also cost us in valuable resources that could be used here to improve our economy.”

David Wildman, Executive Secretary, Human Rights & Racial Justice, with the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries referred to the longer history of U.S. involvement in Afghan politics, linking it to military spending and the current U.S. presence in the country: “The U.S. will devote this year over 100 billion dollars [to Afghanistan]. Almost all of it will go to warfare.  The question that we need to ask today to public officials and the world is–what is that money doing to help the well-being of Afghans? Afghanistan has had thirty years of warfare and, sadly, the United States has contributed almost only weapons in that thirty years.”

Other speakers referred to the official end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq as of September 1, saying that there is still much suffering in Iraq due the past and current presence of U.S. forces. Kimber Heinz, National Organizing Coordinator of the War Resisters League said, “In preparation for next month’s elections, the Obama administration has been trying to turn over a number of new leaves– and to convince the American public that the Iraq war is over and the war in Afghanistan is winnable. Neither is the case…The Obama administration has continued to uphold the U.S. government project of global interventionism and endless war that was brought to a fever pitch during the Bush era.”

Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, religious and spiritual leader of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, NYC connected the ongoing organizing efforts against the war in Afghanistan to the outcry and demonstrations against the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003: “The antiwar demonstrations that erupted globally before the Iraq war started was the greatest public demonstration of that type in human history. We knew how bad this was going to be.”

Iraqi refugee and Chicago-based organizer Fatima Hindi spoke about her experience as a refugee of U.S. war: “Since the US occupation of Iraq in 2003 the country has been devastated. Millions of refugees have been left without homes, mothers and fathers. I am one of those refugees.”

Many of the groups and individuals who spoke at the press conference gathered later that evening in NYC for a dinner and bridge-building event in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.

International Days of Action in Solidarity with Bradley Manning, September 16-19th

Support Bradley Manning!

Oakland, California, USA

Thursday, September 16th, 7-9pm

Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street, Oakland CA (Between Telegraph and Broadway)

Speakers:

DANIEL ELLSBERG, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower
COL. ANN WRIGHT (ret.), former US diplomat
RAY MCGOVERN, former CIA analyst
AIMEE ALLISON, author and KPFA Morning Show Host

Wikileaks “Collateral Murder” video screening

This event will be webcast live and made available at michaelmoore.com.

Presented by Courage to Resist, with the help of National Lawyers Guild Bay Area Military Law Panel, Veterans for Peace-Bay Area Chapter, CodePink, War Resisters League-West, Iraq Veterans Against the War-Bay Area, and BAY-Peace.

The Bradley Manning defense fund is hosted by Courage to Resist in collaboration with the Bradley Manning Support Network. $5 requested donation at the door for event expenses, with a pitch during the event for the Bradley Manning defense effort.

Wheelchair accessible via the 411 28th Street entrance. For more info, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact Courage to Resist at +1 510-488-3559 or courage(at)riseup.net

New York, New York

September 26th, 7pm

Where: St. Mary’s Church (521 West 126th Street)

What: Screening of Collateral Murder

Speakers: Ethan McCord (Member of “Collateral Murder” Unit)

and Matthis Chiroux (Iraq War resister)

Contact: debra@worldcantwait.net

Elaine Brower – (917) 520-0767

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Sunday, September 18th at 4pm

What: Rally for Bradley Manning! Sponsored in part by Veterans for Peace

Where: In front of 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA (MIT building with the dome.)
More info:   t.ben. thompson@ gmail. com

Corvallis, Oregon

Where: Benton Country Courthouse, Corvallis, OR, 97330
When: Friday September 17, 2010 at 5 PM
What: Rally for Bradley Manning! Supported by Veterans for Peace
More info: leahbolger. comcast. net

Keene, New Hampshire

Where: Keene town commons
When: 11:00am, Saturday September 18th

NH Peace Action, in conjunction with the Keene weekly vigil and organizers from the Free State Project are organizing a state-wide vigil.

Featured speaker: Jim Chappelow
Jim Chappelow served as an infantryman in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace. Jim moved to New Hampshire in 2007 as part of the Free State Project.

More information: will@ nhpeaceaction. org

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

Where: University of Tennessee, Knoxville
When: September 16th
More info: aessif@ utk.edu

Los Angeles, California, USA

Where: Top of the Santa Monica Pier (Palisades Park, just north of the pier at the cannon)
When: Sunday, September 19th, 1pm-3pm
More info: tulipsmalloy@aol.com

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Global Days of Action in Support of Bradley Manning
Twin Cities Rally & Public Screening of Collateral Murder

Friday, September 17th
Rally: 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Collateral Murder Video Screening: 5-6 p.m. (Indoors)
Location: Mayday Bookstore – 301 Cedar Avenue – Minneapolis

Join us on Friday, September 17th for a rally to urge the United States government to drop the charges against Bradley Manning. Along with the rally, we will also be hosting a public showing of the WikiLeaks classic, Collateral Murder. We have reserved the bookstore from 5-6 p.m. for indoor viewings of Collateral Murder and short statements from local anti-war activists and groups. For those who prefer to stay outside the entire time, we will have signs, petitions to sign, and literature to pass out from 4:30 onwards at the nearby plaza.

Are you a local peace activist or organization? If you would like to sign on or issue your own statement in support of Bradley Manning, let us know. Email: smilyus@msn.com

New Haven, Connecticut, USA

When: Friday September 17, 2010, 4 PM
Where: 59 Elm Street, New Haven, CT 06510. In front of Rosa DeLauro’s office.
What: War Moratorium Vigil in honor of Bradley Manning, sponsored by the Greater New Haven Peace Council
More info: grnhpeacecouncil2@gmail.com

Norfolk, Virginia, USA

When:  Friday, September 17, 2010, 11:30am-1pm
Where: Granby St. & City Hall Ave., Norfolk, VA
What: Vigil for Bradley Manning!  Holding signs, pass out flyers and blow whistles calling for charges to be dropped against Manning, and to support his exposing of war crimes. Sponsored by the Norfolk Catholic Worker
More info: willbaggs2002@yahoo. com

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

Sponsor: Oklahoma Center for Conscience (centerforconscience.org). Friday, September 17 from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Location: SE Corner of S. 59th and Western Avenue, Oklahoma City

We will be doing a(nother) demo for Bradley in Oklahoma City. The third Friday is our regular day for our monthly peace vigil, but we will dedicate this one to awareness and calls for freedom for Bradley. We hope to again have some old friends of Bradley’s from Crescent join us. (Contact: Rena at Center for Conscience)

After the demo, some of us will go to the nearby Mexican restaurant, Cocino de Mino.

Quantico, Virginia, USA

Sunday, September 19, 2010

11:30 a.m., Town of Quantico Municipal Park (River Road and 4th Avenue). Drivers will need to present valid drivers license, and we do have a permit for the rally from the mayor Quantico.

IVAW, Code Pink, and other area activists will have a rally, anti-war veterans will speak. We have Bradley manning whistles — so you can be a whistleblower, too!

Details: There will be a fundraiser/social Sept. 16th, 6:30 p.m., at the Mott House located at Maryland Avenue and First Street NE for those wishing to engage in the door-to-door peace mission. Carpooling will be organized, and the Amtrak also goes to Quantico. To sign up for carpooling and/or know about future Quantico events, contact Pete Perry, pete4peace (at) gmail  (dot) com

Rochester, Minnesota, USA

Date: Thursday September 16th, 2010
Time: 5 PM
Location: South Broadway & 2nd Street SW, Rochester, MN, 55902
Details: Peace Happening in Support of Bradley Manning! Sponsored by the Southeastern Minnesota Peace Makers
Learn more: www.semnap.org

San Diego, California, USA

San Diego event posterSan Diego event poster

Date: Sunday, September 19, 2010
Location: Horton Plaza, 4th & Broadway (See: http://westfield.com/hortonplaza/)
Rally: 12 PM-2PM

Will include a screening of Collateral Murder
Sponsored by: Activist San Diego, San Diego Peace and Justice Coalition, (Contact: Gabe C.)

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco event flyerSan Francisco event flyer

Date: Saturday, September 18, 2pm.
Time: 2pm rally, 3pm march. 4pm end at Union Square.
Location: in front of the SF War Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, California.
Details: March and rally: Free Bradley Manning. Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime!

Organized by Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace-SF Bay Area, ANSWER Coalition, Bay Area United for Peace and Justice, and CodePink.

More info: 510-488-3559,  couragetoresist.org

Seattle/Fort Lewis, Washington, USA

Date: Saturday, September 18, 2010. Time: 2-4 pm
Location: “Freedom Bridge” and gate area at I-5 exit 122 (Madigan Hospital exit).
More information: projectsafehaven [at] hotmail [dot] com

Details: Greater Seattle Veterans For Peace (VFP 92) is organizing a Bradley Manning support rally at Fort Lewis, Washington for Saturday, September 18. VFP members and friends from around the region will show up blowing whistles and carrying signs that say “Blow the Whistle on War Crimes.” We will be reaching out to the GI’s, giving them “goody bags” with cookies, copies of Sir, No Sir!, and stickers that say “Whistle While You Work,” and give links to VFP and IVAW websites. We want the GI’s to know it is their duty to expose war crimes, and that we will back them up when they do.

Spokane, Washington, USA

Date: Thursday, September 16, 12:00 noon
Location: Corner of Wellesley and Division
What: Rally
More information: Cindy, quest2108 [at gmail [dot] com

Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Contact: Charlotte S.)

Date: Sunday, September 19, 2010. Time: 12:00 noon.
Location: US Consulate, University Avenue
More information: Charlotte S., +1 416-253-6784

IVAW Women’s Retreat this weekend!

Dear Supporters,

My name is Joyce Wagner. I am a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, and I am a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. This Labor Day, IVAW women will hold our first ever retreat in support of women veterans.

Your donation today will help us make this important gathering happen. (Write in Women’s Retreat in the Designation Code area.)

You have heard about the realities for soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan – the physical injuries sustained, the psychological trauma endured, the pressure of being separated from your family, the nagging weight on your conscience that you are part of a large and grave injustice.

Now imagine that you are a woman soldier.

In addition to these realities, if you are a woman service member, you are very likely to have been raped or faced continued sexual harassment by men in your unit. You likely have been passed over for promotion. As you risk your life in the line of duty, you may be ridiculed, insulted, or continually made to deny your woman-ness. You must constantly prove that you are not weak, that you deserve to have your back watched (by those same peers who may be sexually harassing you). And you may grow to distrust other women, just to fit into the hyper-masculine culture of the military.

The women in IVAW have faced these realities, and we are coming together to share our stories, heal from our experiences, and become powerful leaders to help women veterans end the wars. Together, we will explore the sexism and misogyny at the root of war and militarism, and we will begin to explore practical solidarity with the women of Iraq and Afghanistan, with whom we share a common humanity.

Your donation to support this retreat will help pay for food, lodging, and travel expenses for a woman veteran to attend. To donate now, click here, and write Women’s Retreat in the field marked “Designation code.”

I deployed to Iraq twice and took part in the April 2004 assault on Fallujah in which we used white phosphorus on civilians. I joined IVAW because I believe I have a responsibility to help create solutions for the damages I have caused others. It has been a long road toward regaining my humanity, and the women in IVAW have been my greatest support in my personal healing and my development as a grassroots leader. Today I am a mother, graduate student, and chapter president of Pittsburgh IVAW who is hosting this retreat.

Since IVAW’s founding, women have been organizing in the trenches and playing critical leadership roles within IVAW, but we are often the only woman in our chapter. It is time for us to come together to support each other’s leadership as IVAW prepares this fall to launch our first strategic campaign. We know that strengthening women’s leadership within IVAW will strengthen our GI and veteran’s resistance movement.

So far, we have raised one-third of the $10,500 needed to get all of our women to the retreat. Will you help us by donating today?  $350 will provide full sponsorship for a woman member to attend. But any amount helps, so please give whatever you can afford.

Please give today.

Thank you.

Joyce Wagner
Marine Corps Veteran, Mom, President of IVAW Pittsburgh

P.S. Don’t forget to write in “Women’s Retreat” as the Designation code when you make your gift.

Updates from Bradley Manning Solidarity March

Oklahoma Center for Conscience recently had a successful solidarity march in support of Bradley Manning!

Check out this video from the local news, and some pictures from the march.

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Gara’s “A Few Small Candles” published in Japan

Larry Gara a historian, teacher, activist, and WRL contact, is the author of the important memoir, A Few Small Candles, a collection of stories from ten World War II conscientious objectors. This book, highly influential in the  peace movement, was translated to Japanese and published in Japan this summer! To learn more about conscientious objectors, check out the new issue of WIN Magazine on Counter-Recruitment.

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In light of SB1070, an Exploration of the Militarization of Immigration

Today July 29, 2010, is the National Day of Action against SB1070, the anti-immigration, racial profiling law recently passed in Arizona. SB1070 is set to go into effect on July 29th, giving Arizona police the right to stop and arrest anyone suspected of being undocumented. Yesterday, July 28th, a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing its most controversial provisions, including sections that call for officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws that require immigrants to carry their papers at all times. Though this block is only temporary, on July 6th the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against SB1070 to declare it unconstitutional.

Immigration reform has been a hot topic for the past 5 years, with many calling for an end to illegal immigration. Recent polls show that the majority of Americans support Arizona’s unjust law, and having the state in control over immigration policy. About 20 other states are considering passing similar laws.

Many Americans fail to recognize how these “illegal” immigrants contribute significantly to the American society and economy. The strongest organizing against unfair laws in the U.S., like immigration, comes from immigrants. In addition to representing a large makeup of agricultural labor, and the service industry, each year 8,000 non-citizens enlist in the military. According to February 2008 data from the Department of Defense, more than 65,000 immigrants (non-citizens and naturalized citizens) were serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. Nearly 11 percent of those serving in the armed forces are of Latino origin. These statistics are backed with claims from the government that non-citizens serving in the military will have a chance at expedited US citizenship, without obtaining the regular benefits that a US citizen receives from serving in the military. Moreover, these “illegal” immigrants are forced to fight against people who are in similar standing as them in their struggle against US domination.

It is a known fact that recruiters crowd areas with large minority groups and immigrant populations. Additionally the proposed DREAM act, would give undocumented students the opportunity to obtain citizenship through 2 years in college or 2 years in the military. With the average cost of a 2-year college at over $2,000, many of these youth will most likely resort to the appealing recruiters that bombard their high schools. However, the fact that many illegal immigrants, and possibly youth, are serving in the military without any benefits, aside from a chance at citizenship, is unjust.

Furthermore, it is those same recruiters who flood the US-Mexican borders, beating, arresting, and deporting illegal immigrants. This militarization of the border causes those migrating to navigate through more isolated areas, leaving people who get injured behind. This militarization is also attributed to the recent increase in bodies of ” illegal” immigrants being found along the Mexico-Arizona border.

Despite all of this, many Americans cry that immigrants are taking their jobs when thousands of unemployed US citizens refuse to take available jobs in the service industry. Many complain that immigrants are anti-American and are useless, when the military seeks out vulnerable “illegal” immigrants promising them citizenship and a chance to kill to show their dedication to the US. All of these contradictions question the US’s survival as a country intolerant of immigrants and as a country using its military powers to exhibit its disrespect for those who contribute to its society.

You can help reform the militarization of immigrants by taking action against SB1070 NOW!


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Press conference to speak out about lack of army medical treatment

From our friends at Under the Hood Cafe:

PRESS RELEASE

June 2, 2010

Soldiers and Family Members Call Press Conference to Speak Out Against Failure of the Army to Provide Necessary Medical Treatment

Who: Active duty soldiers, spouses and other family members

When: Saturday, June 5, 2010, 10:00 a.m.

Where: Under the Hood Café and Outreach Center

17 College Street (@ West Avenue G), Killeen, Texas

Killeen, Texas – As the U.S. heads into its tenth year of combat in Afghanistan and continued combat missions in Iraq, the number of soldiers facing multiple redeployments and resulting physical and mental health problems is reaching unprecedented levels.

Here are just some of the health problems facing soldiers today:

Army suicide rates are at their highest levels since the army started tracking this statistic.1

A recent study conducted by Stanford University found that rates of (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) PTSD among service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan may be as high as 35%. With two million troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, we can expect that an astounding 700,000 veterans will suffer from PTSD.2

Army field studies have shown that more than 10% of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered at least one concussion or brain injury, the vast majority of those from exposure to a homemade bomb or improvised explosive device. Five percent to 15% of mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) patients develop lasting problems with concentration, short-term memory, fatigue and chronic headaches.3

These are sobering statistics, but soldiers and families are increasingly finding that the Army is doing little to address these and other health issues soldiers face.  In fact, right here in Fort Hood, the Army is violating its own regulations by training soldiers for deployment despite their non-deployable status.

In an effort to call attention to this mounting problem, a group of military family members and soldiers has scheduled a press conference to speak out against combat training for soldiers with a no-deployment profile, and for the Army’s lack of medical assistance and support.  The conference is scheduled for Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. at Under the Hood Café and Outreach Center, 17 College Street, Killeen, Texas.

Media Contacts:

Cindy Thomas, Manager, Under the Hood Café & Outreach Center 254-768-8300

Heidi Turpin, PR/Media, Under the Hood Café & Outreach Center, 512-565-2244

1 Suicide Rate Among Army, Army Reserve, National Guard Reaches 28-Year High, Medical News Today, February 2, 2009, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/137394.php

2 Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (2009, September 15). Iraq Troops’ PTSD Rate As High As 35 Percent, Analysis Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/09/090914151629.htm

3 Two wars produce unique and puzzling brain injuries, USA Today, May 24, 2010, http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-05-24-vetbraininjuries24_ST_N.htm