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Friday, October 26, 2007

An Appeal from Helga Aguayo and Sara Rich (Mother of Suzanne Swift)

An appeal from Helga Aguayo and Sara Rich
Wife of Army Spc. Agustín Aguayo; Mother of Army Spc. Suzanne Swift

sara helgaOctober 26, 2007

Dear Friend,

If you feel anything like we do, you are beyond frustrated by years of war that appear endless. Presidential candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike, are offering little hope that this nightmare of unjust occupation and war will be over anytime soon. It appears that it really is up to us, “the people,” to stop this war.

We have all done our share of marching for peace, and of course we'll be marching tomorrow October 27th as well. Regional demonstrations to end the Iraq War are happening in Boston, Chicago, LA, SF, New Orleans, NYC, Orlando, Philly, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Jonesborough. However, there are those who have put much more on the line.

Tens of thousands of service members have resisted illegal war and occupation in a number of different ways—by going AWOL, seeking conscientious objector status and/or a discharge, asserting the right to speak out against injustice from within the military, and for some, publicly refusing to fight.

You’re the backbone of our efforts to help stop this war by supporting the troops that are resisting—and we’re counting on you to help us do so. We want to share a few highlights of recent efforts, and offer a preview of unfolding initiatives.

  • Earlier this month, the Army attempted to stage a court martial “do over” in the case of Lt. Ehren Watada—the first officer to publicly resist deployment to Iraq. On only a few days notice, the Army announced it would ignore the Constitution’s prohibition of double jeopardy and try again—after the first trial didn’t turn out to their liking. As supporters nationwide geared up to take action, a civilian federal judge stepped in and delayed the proceedings. Without strong civilian legal defense, Lt. Watada would have been railroaded. Without public attention, it is unlikely that a federal judge would have been compelled to step in.

  • Every day military recruiters enter the halls of high schools equipped with a goodie bag of promises and free copies of their official video game, America’s Army. Assurances of non-combat positions and college money made largely to teens of color and low-income communities rarely materialize upon real-life service. Courage to Resist organizer David Solnit and Gulf War objector Aimee Allison have written a comprehensive guide to counter military recruiting and are currently traveling the country sharing their strategies outlined in their new book, Army of None. We’re proud to sponsor this exciting project.

  • robinA couple of weeks ago, U.S. war resister Robin Long was picked up by Canadian police and faced immediate deportation. Robin would have been the first objector in Canada to be deported, even while the Canadian Supreme Court has yet to rule on his and other applications for refugee status. In cooperation with our friends at War Resisters Support Campaign, we sprung into action to halt Robin’s seemingly imminent deportation. After letters, calls, and faxes, flooded the offices of key Canadian officials, Robin was released.

  • Next week we'll be announcing our, “Dear Canada: Let U.S. war resisters stay” initiative. But you can get a jump on things by signing the appeal at today. We’ll mail letters on your behalf to three Canadian officials!

Some people still dismiss war resisters as cowards—and that is still hard for us to hear as we remember what it took for our loved ones to say “enough is enough.” For many resisters, first-hand experiences in Iraq compelled them to take a stand. For others, “doing the right thing” and acting on conscience simply began to outweigh their military training in obedience.

“Courage,” declares Iraq War resister and GI Rights Hotline counselor Pablo Paredes, “is so often assumed of the cowardly and so seldom acknowledged in the brave. The good people at Courage to Resist and their work are the antidote to that troublesome state of affairs. More importantly, they are the inspiration for those who are currently being asked by history to find that unsung courage—the courage to resist.”

With your help, in the next few weeks we will be:

  • Launching a public pledge and national education campaign in support of G.I. resistance.
  • Increasing our efforts in support of U.S. war resisters in Canada.
  • Continuing our support of the hundreds of G.I. resisters speaking out.
  • Finding better ways to support resisters trying to resolve their issues with the military.
  • Traveling the country doing counter military recruiting with the Army of None Project.

As two of the newest members of Courage to Resist, we are getting a better idea of what it takes to do this work every day. Most importantly, we have learned that we can’t do it without your support. Please send your gift of $30, $50, $100 or more today. It’s your tax deductible gift of whatever you can afford that is critical to our efforts through this Fall and Winter in support of the troops who are refusing to fight.

On behalf of Courage to Resist,

Helga Aguayo
Wife of Iraq War veteran and war resister
Army Spc. Agustín Aguayo

Sara Rich
Mother of active duty Army Spc. Suzanne Swift,
Iraq War veteran and war resister

james circelloI felt like I would be fighting the entire military by myself. If I had known about Courage to Resist earlier, I would not have waited so long to speak out. They highlight the real face of the war by allowing those of us that have been a part of this insanity to share our experiences and voice our concerns. Courage to Resist deserves your respect and support. My journey has just begun.

Army Sgt. James Circello, AWOL Iraq veteran (pictured with Army Col. Ann Wright, ret.)

Youtube: Courage to Resist - Augustin Aguayo

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