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Friday, October 12, 2007

LA Vigils for Ehren Watada October 15 and 22

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Little Tokyo Vigils Oct. 15 and 22 Oppose Second Court Martial

About 40 members of the community and peace activists came out to First and Alameda Streets in Little Tokyo on October 8 to protest the 2nd court martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada which was scheduled to begin the next day. However, in new developments that day, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle in Tacoma, Washington, issued a stay of the court martial trial until at least October 26. Settle, a Bush appointee, also ruled that “as a preliminary matter, … it has jurisdiction over the habeas petition and that Petitioner’s double jeopardy claim is not frivolous.”

Watada’s lawyers and supporters were happy and relieved that the court martial would not proceed on Oct. 9, but realize the battle is far from over. The Assistant United States Attorney who has taken over the case will file (with the military’s help) papers opposing the stay, then Watada’s lawyers will reply before the judge makes a decision. Supporters hope the judge will rule a second court martial will violate Watada’s constitutional right not to be tried twice for the same crime, under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR) and Asian American Vietnam Veterans Organization (AAVVO) urge the community to continue to attend the vigils planned for Oct. 15 and 22 between 5:30-7:00 p.m. at First and Alameda Streets. The purpose of the vigils is to publicize the injustice of a 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.

In addition, NCRR and AAVVO are circulating an online Petition supporting Watada which can be accessed at: The petition reads in part: “Lt. Ehren Watada has dutifully refused participation in the U.S. war on Iraq, … since the war violates International law and was initiated by the Bush Administration's deception of U.S. Congress and the American people….”

So far, close to 4,000 U.S. servicemen and women have died in Iraq, and it is estimated over 1 million Iraqis have perished in the war. Horrific news of torture of prisoners and the bombing and killing of innocent civilians by both the U.S. military and private contractors such as Blackwater permeate the news, while the terrible suffering of the Iraqi people increases by the day. The organizers of the vigils agree with Lt. Watada who said, “[I] refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression.”

In addition to the vigils and online petition, NCRR and AAVVO is organizing a contingent to march in the upcoming “End the War Now” march and rally on Saturday, October 27 at noon at Olympic and Broadway Streets.

For more information about the Oct. 15 & 22 vigils and the Oct. 27 anti-war march, 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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