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AWOL soldier André Shepherd receives German media award


From Courage to Resist    

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Connection e.V. and MCN. Septermber 20, 2010

"André Shepherd has done what is prohibited to soldiers: he made a decision. Alone. He took his life into his own hands and said: I am not doing this anymore." - Editor Bernd Pickert

Connection e.V. and Military Counseling Network are welcoming the conferment of Tageszeitung (taz) Panther Award to U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd last Saturday. "This is a clear sign how much approval is given to his decision“, Rudi Friedrich of Connection e.V. stated today. “We are now urging the German migration authorities to finally grant André Shepherd the necessary asylum protection."

In November 2008 U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd filed an application for permanent asylum in Germany, stating why he had refused a second deployment to Iraq in 2007: “In the war of aggression against the Iraqi people, the United States violated not only domestic law, but international law as well. My applying for asylum is based on the grounds that international law has been broken and that I do not want to be forced to fight in an illegal war.”

In his asylum application, Shepherd references a directive of the European Union according to which persons are to be protected who remove themselves from wars or actions that violate international human rights law and must fear persecution in their home country for their decision. André Shepherd is still waiting for a decision from the German migration authorities concerning his application for asylum. Under U.S. military law, he would be subject to a long jail term.

André Shepherd is an African-American from Ohio who was stationed at the U.S. military base in Ansbach-Katterbach, Germany, as an Apache helicopter mechanic. The use of the Apaches in Iraq came to worldwide attention through the Wikileaks release this year of a U.S Army video that showed the shooting from an Apache on unarmed civilians in Iraq in the summer of 2007. Shepherd was well aware of such crimes as a result of his deployment to Iraq in 2004. Back in Ansbach, he received orders to return to Iraq in 2007. Instead, he fled the U.S. base in April 2007 and went underground in Germany.

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"With André Shepherd, the Readers Award 2010 is honoring an Iraq war veteran whose fate made him a symbolic figure," editor Bernd Pickert said at the award ceremony, as quoted in the taz today. "André Shepherd has done what is prohibited to soldiers: he made a decision. Alone. He took his life into his own hands and said: I am not doing this anymore." Pickert further praised Shepherd's courage to go against the current, accepting great personal hardship for his convictions.

More see at www.Connection-eV.de/z.php?ID=1164

Audio interview by Courage to Resist. 23:30 min. December 8, 2008

 

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I checked the German website linked in the above article and came across the following one about a story I hadn't read or heard anything about until now. Perhaps the news was posted here in or since March, but since it's [news] for me, I'll include the link.

"Berkeley (US): City council recommends amnesty for war resisters"

by Courage to Resist, March 30th, 2010

http://www.connection-ev.de/z.php?ID=1056

On Tuesday, March 9, 2010, the Berkeley (California) City Council passed Resolution No. 64,803 N.S. recommending “Universal and Unconditional Amnesty for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan War Military Resisters and Veterans Who Acted In Opposition to the War for Matters of Conscience.”

It was adapted, with some changes, from the original resolution passed by the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission on November 2, 2009. The resolution recommends that all military personnel, serving since October 7, 2001, be granted Universal and Unconditional Amnesty amounting to forgiveness for all convictions or pending charges of desertion or Absence Without Leave (AWOL) or Unauthorized Absence (UA) if such leave or absence is determined to be caused by matters of personal conscience in opposition to the illegal wars in Iraq and/or Afghanistan and/or Pakistan.

(snip)

This is the first time the subject of Universal Unconditional Amnesty has been brought up since President Jimmy Carter granted Unconditional Amnesty amounting to “full, complete and unconditional pardon” to draft resisters following the Vietnam War. Universal Unconditional Amnesty had been the demand of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

Berkeley’s resolution called for copies of it to be sent to President Obama, Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and Congressperson Barbara Lee.

(snip)

The article describes other soldiers being supported in this resolution, and the people who put this resolution together are clearly and wholly right.

It evidently hasn't influenced Obama, Pelosi, and the others copies of the resolution were sent to; not Obama and Pelosi anyway. If it has, then I certainly haven't read or heard anything of the like; but maybe Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, whose present positions with respect to the war is something I know nothing about, might be against the continuation of the military forces of the U.S. and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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