Military Refusers Locked Up
Another G.I. whose conscientious objector claim has been rejected by the army was recently sentenced to 45 days in the brig. It took young army private David Bunt a tour of duty in Afghanistan to bring him to the realization that he would not in good conscience pull the trigger and kill another human. At a court martial at Fort Bragg in late September, the father of three pled guilty to missing a parachute jump. He began serving his time September 22 at the Camp Lejeune brig.
For more information, contact Quaker House, 223 Hillside Ave., Fayetteville, NC 28301.
An Army hearing officer has rejected the conscientious objector (CO) claim of Pvt. Camilo Mejia. Mejia was informed on August 20 that his CO claim had been denied since it was "based solely on his view of the war in Iraq." At the June hearing in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, Mejia presented several witnesses who attested to his sincerity and integrity. Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit and a CO counselor, Louis Randa of the Peace Abbey, near Boston, both testified about the centrality of Mejia's religious beliefs as the foundation of his CO claim. Louis Font, Mejia's civilian defense attorney stated, "This ruling flies in the face of both the facts and the law. Camilo is entitled to hold political views about the war in Iraq as long as he meets the CO legal standard of opposing participation in all war." Tod Ensign of Citizen Soldier, who has sponsored Mejia's defense, observed, "This nonsensical ruling may explain why the Army has been reporting that the number of CO applications is down during the Iraq war. If CO claims of other GIs are being handled in the same manner, it's no wonder that GIs would be discouraged from filing them." After a review at the base, a final decision will be made by the Army's Conscientious Objector Review Board in the Pentagon. (via Citizen Soldier)
Sgt. Abd Allah Webster (previously reported as Abdullah Webster) has submitted a new claim for conscientious objection, and his 14-month sentence for disobeying orders and missing his unit's deployment to Iraq has Amnesty International considering whether to adopt him as a prisoner of conscience. In a recent interview, Webster's wife Susan, a British citizen, told Roshan Muhammed Salih of Al Jazeera that "His faith is so important to him that if it were a choice between being executed and going to fight in Iraq he would just ask for time to say goodbye to his family before the execution date... Islamic scholars say that Muslims can fight in a just war but not an unjust one. Abd Allah thinks this war is unjust - innocent people are dying for no reason."
Salih writes "Abd Allah Webster says his grievance is not with his nation or the U.S. army, but with individuals in the army and the bad decisions that were made to send the country to war."
Two more public military refusers have reportedly fled to Canada. Navy enlistee David Sanders from Arizona and Marine Dan Felushko are seeking asylum, as are the previously reported Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Felushko has dual U.S./Canadian citizenship, so can remain in Canada even if asylum is not granted.
The internet website www.tomjoad.org lists other military refusers, some who have been discharged, some who are less public now as their cases are being settled without court martial, and others whose status after initial press reports is not known.
David Bunt is very interested in Bible study and scripture reflections are particularly welcome.
Letters of support can be sent to David Bunt, Bldg. 1042 PSC 20140, Camp Lejeune, NC 28542, and to his wife Peggy Bunt, c/o Quaker House, 223 Hillside Ave., Fayetteville, NC 28301.
Letters of support can be sent to Pvt. Camilo Mejia, Building 1490, Randolph Rd., Fort Sill, OK 73503.
Sgt. Abd Allah Webster is reportedly at the U.S. Army-Europe Confinement Facility at Mannheim, but no confirmed address is available. G.I.s in need of assistance concerning any phase of determining or applying for conscientious objector status are encouraged to call the GI Rights hotline at 1-800-394-9544, or visit www.objector.org, internet home of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objection, CCCO.