National education and action campaign responds
June 5, 2006
We are asking you and your organization to do what you can to make support for U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada a priority in the coming weeks and months.
We believe that Lt Watada's stand offers a historic opportunity to assert our power to challenge and end the illegal war and occupation and to support the courageous soldiers and officers who fulfill their commitment to refuse illegal orders to participate in illegal war, occupation and war crimes. We intend to make Lt Watada's stand count as a significant step towards a better, just and more peaceful world.
Refusing illegal war and occupation is not a crime
Today, Lt. Ehren Watada was formally charged with three articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: missing movement (Article 87), two counts of contempt towards officials (Article 88) - specifically President G. W. Bush, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman (Article 133). If convicted of all six charges by a general court-martial, Lt. Watada could be sentenced to over seven years in a military prison.
Lt. Watada's lawyer, Eric Seitz, said this morning: "We expected the missing movement charge, but we are somewhat astounded by the contempt and conduct unbecoming charges. These additional charges open up the substance of Lt. Watada's statements for review and raise important First Amendment issues. We are delighted that the Army has given us the opportunity to litigate these questions." Most previous prosecutions of Article 88 took place during the Civil War and World War I, and the last known prosecution was in 1965 (Howe vs. U.S.). Lt. Howe was protesting the Vietnam War.
Even before Lt. Watada refused to ship out to Iraq on June 22, the Army was focusing their investigation on his speech. The formal charges confirm that the Army's primary objective is silencing Lt. Watada's dissent.
Emergency response support events tomorrow
Friends and Family of Lt. Watada is encouraging supporters that have the ability to hold a vigil, or other support activity in their community tomorrow to do so.
Supporters in Washington State's Puget Sound area will gather tomorrow, July 6, at 5pm over Interstate 5 on the Exit 119 overpass (adjacent to the entrance to Ft. Lewis).
International day of action; Mass mobilization at Ft. Lewis
Friends and Family of Lt. Watada is calling for an international mobilization of support the day before Lt. Watada is scheduled to be court marshaled - possibly sometime in September.
We are asking groups to begin planning demonstrations, rallies, marches, vigils and/or educational events at appropriate sites in your community (federal buildings, military recruiting centers, highly visible intersections, etc.).
Groups and individuals in the Pacific Northwest, and friends that can travel, are asked to converge at Fort Lewis (south of Seattle/Tacoma, north of Olympia) for the actual court martial and a series of educational events and actions prior.
Illegal war and occupation education and action campaign
We are asking supporters to make a concerted effort in the coming months to educate their groups, networks and community about Lt. Watada's stand and about the illegality of the war and occupation of Iraq.
This could include articles in newsletters, on websites, letters to the editor, guest editorials, teach-ins, video screenings, etc.