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Wednesday, October 3, 2007


The following has been written by NCRR Los Angeles and submitted for publication to Rafu-HOPEFULLY they will publish it which will circulate throughout the Japanese community here in Los Angeles. For all others, here is the invitation to join all of us next Monday evening as well as their ARDENT support of an American HERO, Ehren Watada:
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Little Tokyo Vigil to Protest Second Court Martial - Monday Oct. 8

The community is urged to come out in support of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who faces a second court martial trial at Ft. Lewis, Washington starting October 9. The organizers of the vigil – Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR) and Asian American Vietnam Veterans Organization (AAVVO) believe this second trial is an attempt to unjustly punish Lt. Watada for being the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Lawyers for Lt. Watada filed an appeal in July, calling for the case to be dismissed on the basis of double jeopardy. Instead of waiting for the appeal to be decided, the Army is forging ahead with the court martial. The purpose of the vigil is to publicize the injustice of the second court martial and to gather support for Lt. Watada as part of a broader effort to support all military resisters to the Iraq war. The vigil will take place between 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the corner of Alameda and First Streets in Little Tokyo.

In June 2006, Lt. Watada became the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Watada believes the Iraq war is illegal because President Bush did not obtain proper authorization and the reasons for going to war turned out to be false. He believes the war violates Army rules, the Nuremberg principles and the Geneva Convention and participating in the war would lead him to commit war crimes. Watada has already been subjected to a court martial trial in February 2007, where he faced charges of missing movement, contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer (for criticizing the war). After 3 days of trial during which the government’s case against Watada faltered, army judge Lt. Col. John Head abruptly called a mistrial, erroneously claiming Watada did not fully understand a pretrial agreement he had entered into.

Since February, Watada’s Seattle lawyers Kenneth Kagan and James Lobsenz have taken the position that a second trial is barred by the double-jeopardy clause of the Constitution.

However in July, Judge Head, who was criticized for bias against Watada during the first court martial, ruled that prosecuting Watada twice for the same crime would not constitute double jeopardy because military court rules are different. Watada’s defense team then filed an appeal, which is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and hopes the court will stop the second court martial from proceeding until the double-jeopardy issue is decided.

The October 8 vigil is part of a year-long effort by NCRR and AAVVO to support Lt. Watada and other military resisters who, in Watada’s words, “refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression.” Last October, the two groups sponsored a southern California speaking tour for Ehren’s father and step-mother, Bob Watada and his wife Rosa and in February, organized a spirited anti-war march and rally in Little Tokyo attended by over 400 people. NCRR sent a delegation to the first court martial trial and has continued to help publicize Watada’s case, while communicating with support groups throughout the country.

For more information about the Oct. 8 vigil, contact NCRR at (213) 680-3484 or call (310) 710-1449 or (626) 482-6637, or e-mail or AAVVO at For more information about Lt. Watada’s case:

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