Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Call for Amnesty

A Call for Amnesty for All Soldiers that have refused to fight in the Iraq War
After receiving the following from Llowel Downey, I asked for permission to post it in it's entirety. Permission was granted and here it is.

A Call for Amnesty for All Soldiers that have refused to fight in the Iraq War

The Napa County Green Party calls for an immediate Amnesty for all soldiers that have refused to fight in the Iraq War. Marin County Greens have also signed on to this issue. We demand that Congress debate this important issue. This is not just a military issue. This is a human rights issue that involves us all. We demand that this amnesty be given without conditions, including free of all charges on the soldier's record, no dishonorable discharge, return of full medical and education benefits, and the right to stay in the military, without punishment, should the soldier wish to remain.

Amnesty is the right thing do. This war was created with lies and deception. Our elected leaders have ignored the facts and supported this war for years while our soldiers and Iraqi civilians have been and continue to be crippled and slaughtered. Our elected representatives hold responsibility for this war and it is up to them to begin the important step toward national healing by showing compassion to our soldiers and their families. One essential step toward healing is to give amnesty to our soldiers that have refused to fight in this war.

Our soldiers have returned home maimed and psychologically scarred for life. The mistreatment by our government is criminal. Soldiers are not returning to a home with citizens protesting and condemning them. They are returning home and being disgraced by our government and military. One out of every three homeless is a veteran. Veterans and their families are harassed and financially crippled. Veteran families are victim at home while their husbands and wives and children are dying and wounded in Iraq. Our leading military hospital has been disgraced for its treatment of soldiers.

Our soldiers are in the business of handling adversity and disappointment. Handling shame by our government is not one of them. Amnesty is about compassion. Our soldiers who have been fighting an unjust war are deserving of this compassion. Our soldiers deserve amnesty and should not be punished for refusing to fight a war disguised as morally right but criminally wrong. Amnesty is about healing a great wrong suffered on us, and suffered on the world. Why should our soldiers be victim to this great tragedy?

Would we condemn the soldiers if they refused to follow the orders to commit the horrific My Lai Massacre in Vietnam? Would we not offer them compassion and amnesty if they chose to flee the military order? Would we condemn Nazi soldiers who were committing atrocities in labor camps from refusing their orders? Would we not offer them compassion and amnesty?

Quoting St. Augustine, Martin Luther King Jr. said, "An unjust law is no law at all." Are our soldiers who refuse to follow an unjust law and an unjust order guilty of a crime that will forever be on their records? Is it right that they and their families bear the shame of a dishonorable discharge, prison and humiliation? We cannot turn our heads on these brave Americans who have been ostracized and turned into criminals for standing up against deceitful political leaders.

Our country needs healing. Not to give amnesty will be a great shame on the United States. The objection of the military must be overcome. This is one of the challenges of being the military of a democracy. Our soldiers are trained to follow orders. This will have to be one more order they will have to learn to live with. They will have to find the courage within themselves for compassion. There will be soldiers who say it is far greater challenge to stay on the front line and follow the orders. Yes, that is a difficult and terrible challenge. It is also a difficult challenge to go against your life's pursuit, that of a military officer, to go against an order, to threaten the well being of your family. It is a difficult challenge to stand up against your government and refuse the order to fight and kill when you know that the reason for doing so is morally corrupt and criminal. One challenge is not greater than the other.

There can be no conditions for amnesty. Our country needs to find a way back from the horror that this war has inflicted here at home. We have another generation of children who have grown up with this violence. We have another war generation to support. In ten years, we may look back and say that giving amnesty to our soldiers who refused to fight in the Iraq War was the catalyst for healing. We are a nation in grief. Amnesty is a way to restore faith in our democracy and our humanity.

In an address Martin Luther King, Jr. once spoke, ‘the first question which the priest and the Levite asked was “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the good Samaritan reversed the question, “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” We also ask, "What will happen to the children of our soldiers and our children if we do not grant amnesty and show compassion?"

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