Sunday, June 02, 2013

VVAW/OSS Stands with Bradley Manning and all GI Resisters...

Ed Note:  VVAW/OSS is currently encamped in Millersville, Md. for the occasion of the opening date of the of the Bradley Manning Courts Martial at Ft Meade, Md. We are here in support of Bradley Manning and all Resisters. Yesterday, Saturday June 1st, we participated in a Free Bradley Manning Rally & March staged at the front gate of Ft. Meade, Md. We were there to let Bradley Manning and the US Government know  that we haven't forgotten Bradley and to clearly state to the world, that Blowing the Whistle on War Crimes is not a War Crime. We will be at the gates again tomorrow, Monday, June 3d.


VVAW/OSS stands with Bradley Manning and all Resisters. Posted below is a letter that came from a group of Resisters in Canada known as the 49ers, it was addressed to the membership of VVAW/OSS while OSS was at their recent National Conference at Kent State on May 3d. We are working closely with these folks, developing an initiative known as Amnesty 2.0. This initiative is for the purpose of educating folks to the plight and circumstances of Resisters everywhere, and  for the purpose of creating support groups for Resisters and their families who currently have been, or are are facing deportation from Canada back into the US (as in the cases of Robin Long and Kim Rivera), and directly into the hands of the US military.

Bradley Manning is guilty of nothing more than Speaking Truth to Power about war crimes, the 49ers are guilty of nothing except acting on their conscience and refusing to continue to be a part of a war being prosecuted on false premises and perpetuation of the lie...something Vietnam Veterans understand, very well.  Here is their letter:

To the Delegation of VVAW/OSS:

On behalf of my fellow war resisters in Canada I would like to extend this formal greeting to all of you who are meeting here today. We are deeply thankful to VVAW/OSS and others involved for the thought they are putting toward the struggle of U.S Iraq and Afghanistan War Resisters in Canada. We are also honored to have one among you, Nick Velvet, a Vietnam Veteran Against the War and Old School Sapper, representing us at this gathering as he did at the medal returning ceremony last spring. It was an odd twist of fate that brought him to us, but one we are grateful for. We have benefited from his friendship, experience, and knowledge of the G.I resistance movement.

Many of you might remember what it was like to be in our shoes, or at least in similar circumstances during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately we are living proof that not much has changed since then. The imperialist war machine is still turning out young killers with factory like efficiency. Nowadays at the crew served weapons ranges at Ft. Benning, they teach you to hold the butterfly trigger for three words, four syllables “die-hajji-die”. Since the start of these wars, thousands of U.S troops have deployed overseas to kill for and die for these scumbags that run the show. The profiteers and the zealots. But, just as in all wars that are unjust and based on false pretense, there springs forth an organic resistance to the bullshit.

Young people like Camillo Mejia, Mike Prysner, Kelly Doherty, Jeremy Hinzman, and Bradley Manning. You can’t really fit us into one category. We are not all socialists, we are not all pacifists, not all of us began our resistance from a place of ideology even. Some of had to see and do the things we did to figure out that we didn’t want to do them anymore, and some of us figured out right away. We, here in Canada left our contracts early, while those resisters who chose to stay behind became outspoken while respecting their contract. Resistance has been unique to each individual. As it should be.

During the Vietnam war you had draft dodgers, anti-war veterans, AWOL veterans, and troops refusing to leave the wire. Each resisted in his or her own way and caused the system to collapse. One resister in the U.S who was planning to turn himself in, once asked me “Why don’t you guys just turn yourselves in? Wouldn’t that make more sense if you really want to resist the war and make a statement?”  I couldn’t think of a simple answer but the one I gave him was this. Each of us resisters in Canada left our posts during extreme personal distress. The time to have made a statement like that came and went the moment we set foot on Canadian soil and claimed political asylum. When we did, we took upon ourselves another yoke. The burden to convince the Canadian people that we deserve to be here and to convince the Canadian government to once again make Canada a haven from militarism as it once was during the Vietnam era. If that ever became a reality it would do tremendous harm to the mechanisms of the war effort.

The reality though, is that we up here face heavy legal and political pushback from the conservative Canadian Government. Unlike their Liberal predecessors from the Trudeau era, they are extremely against us. Going so far as to release Operational bulletin 202 which recommends every immigration officer on duty to turn back U.S soldiers trying to seek asylum here. They have continued to tamper in the immigration and refugee process to the point where the former U.N secretary general Kofi Annan has taken interest, urging prime minister Harper to stop dicking around with our cases. After a number of us including Robin Long, Chris Teske, Cliff Cornell, Rodney Watson(who is hiding in a church in Vancouver), and most recently Kim Rivera and her family have been targeted for deportation, it is without a shadow of a doubt that the Conservative party of Canada is aggressively working to get us out of here. They realize the significance of any sort of victory as much as we do.

Early this year my own case went to the Federal Court of Canada, one of the highest courts in the land , where we sought to appeal the negative(bogus) decision the refugee board granted me. In an unprecedented move, the Federal Court Justice presiding my case granted me a re-trial and effectively supported my evidence. He agreed that there have been breaches of the Geneva Conventions in Iraq and Afghanistan witnessed by me and well documented by third party sources. As well, he was in agreement that the United States military justice system concerning the Court Martial of deserters is unfair and out-dated compared to the Canadian, British, and other international standards. The Commander of the soldier being court martialed, chooses the jury and sentencing of said soldier. The Judge presiding over a court martial shares the same chain of command as the Soldier’s commander which threatens any kind of independent decision making on the part of the judge. This was a clear victory for us. A mile stone. For Kim Rivera it was a month too late.

Those of us who remain up here face many challenges. Besides fighting a legal and political battle against an opponent that has more resources than us and is quite determined, we also have our personal demons to deal with. Some of these demons are common to all veterans-even those who didn’t see the front lines of combat-Canada continues to be like a deployment for them. Here, we exist in a sort of legal limbo, where we don’t have rights as all Canadians do. And, neither can we collect the rights we had as active duty service members and veterans. For PTSD mental health care, we must pay out of pocket or fundraise. For unemployment and housing we have to take care of each other. If one guy has a job we try and hook the other guy up. That’s all we have essentially. When we came here we were physically cut off from our family and friends, a social and financial support that most returning veterans can utilize during hard times. We’ve had to figure it out on the go. Suffice to say it’s been interesting.

This is why this relationship between our two generation is important to foster. We don’t have to look ahead of us and stare into a black hole. Time is constantly repeating itself with the events of this war. We are intrinsically linked through our shared experiences. There have been things that you all have went through in the years following the Vietnam war that we have yet to run into. Some of those pitfalls we have reached already. Substance abuse problems, relationship issues, survivors guilt etc. When Barrack Obama got elected, some of the folks up here got excited and thought he would be our Jimmy Carter. He turned out to be more of a Nixon. Nevertheless, It’s important what you all are doing with this amnesty Campaign. Regardless if it’s successful, even if it is a decade from now, recognition of our struggle is good press. Recognition of our mistreatment at the hands of our commanders and peers. Recognition of the unfair trials and sentencing. Recognition of the right to say no and resist on any terms.


Jules Tindungan
Chris Vassey
Dale Landry
Cory Glass
Chuck Wiley
Christian Kjar
Rodney Watson
Ryan Johnson
Dean Walcott
Phil Mcdowell
Jeremy Hengst
Brandon Hughey