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Britain: International protests demand that the MoD drop the charges against Joe Glenton
For interview with Sue Glenton: +44 (0) 790 393 1482
For more information: Giorgio Riva +44 (0) 7803 789 699
www.refusingtokill.net - payday(at)paydaynet(dot)org
Joe Glenton, the first soldier in Europe to publicly refuse to fight in Afghanistan, faces court martial on Friday 5 March. International protests in eight countries are directed at the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), demanding that the military authorities drop the charges. If convicted, Joe could be jailed for two years.
After a first tour in Afghanistan, in 2007 Joe went AWOL (absent without leave). He handed himself in two years later. Last November, he was jailed for a month and then released on condition that he does not speak in public. He was also diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
His wife Clare and his mother Sue have carried on speaking and campaigning on his behalf. Sue has just completed a speaking tour of Italy where Joe’s case raised great interest in the mainstream press. Sue Glenton said:
“I used to freeze when I heard the word ’Afghanistan’ on radio or TV. The sense of relief knowing that it wasn’t Joe was soon replaced by a flood of guilt thinking about the family who were receiving the military visit. How many other families anywhere behave the same way, and in Afghanistan how many mothers have the same emotion on a minute by minute basis, how much greater is their concern.”
Protesters in eight countries – Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, Turkey, UK and USA - have organised actions, ranging from pickets of their British Embassy or Consulate, to leafleting a town centre, to a radio broadcast, to a protest in front of the court martial itself. Details can be found here.
In London, Payday men’s network will deliver an international letter of protest to the MoD on Thursday 4 March at 1pm. The event will be attended by distinguished representatives of the Italian Radical Party.
The letter is signed by individuals and organisations from 34 countries, including Nobel Price internationally renowned playwright Dario Fo and his wife Franca Rame. Camilo Mejia, a former US Army Staff Sergeant jailed after refusing to return to Iraq in 2004 having witnessed atrocities committed by the army against civilians sent this message:
"The people of Britain should raise hell on earth if Glenton is convicted for refusing to fight in that criminal occupation. Without public support for war resisters our governments will continue to invade and occupy other countries with absolute impunity - Free Glenton, Stop the War."
According to the MoD, since 2003 there have been over 17,000 occasions when soldiers have gone AWOL. Giorgio Riva, from Payday commented:
"They picked on Joe because he spoke publicly against the occupation, reflecting the overwhelming opinion among the public and increasingly within the ranks. Those who have engineered this war should be tried, not Joe Glenton. Refusing to kill is not a crime, making war is the crime.”
Payday: Press release, March 3, 2010