The Armed Forces Bill receives its third
reading on Monday 22 May.
There is growing
awareness of and opposition
Clause 8 which imposes
a new, tougher
definition of desertion for soldiers who could
be imprisoned “for life”
if they go absent without leave and intend to
refuse to take part in a “military
occupation of a foreign country or territory”.
This has been widely
condemned as a clear attack on the growing movement of soldiers who
refuse to be part of Bush’s “endless war”
-- three times as many British solders have absconded since
the invasion of Iraq.
John McDonnell MP
will present two amendments on Monday which would remove the
obligation to take part in a military occupation and limit the
maximum sentence for desertion to two years. The amendments were
announced at a Parliamentary Briefing organised by Payday men’s
network on Wednesday 17th May at Portcullis House,
Westminster, attended by 50 people who responded enthusiastically to
the panel of speakers which included:
who resigned from the SAS and refused to go back to Iraq, denouncing
the war there. He was applauded when he said he
the British Army to conduct American foreign policy.”
Gwyntopher from At
Ease, a confidential advice, information
& counselling service for members of the Armed Forces, who explained
how MPs are responsible for the backwardness of UK military law –
according to which it is still illegal for two or more soldiers to
make a complaint together;
from the Peace Pledge Union, which
aims to work towards creating a just
world free from war, opposed the British Army’s use of “child
soldiers”, that is, 16-year-olds, and the government’s refusal to
include in this legislation any reference to the right of
Annie Machon, MI5 whistleblowers, explaining how they
exposed the government’s secret, illegal and “terrorist” activities
and connected this with the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis as well as Dr
David Kelly’s death;
Kalmanovitz for Payday
men’s network on how the Bill was being sneaked through Parliament,
and what they have done to stop it.
Three MPs –
Angus MacNeil (Scottish National Party), Nick
Harvey (Liberal Democrats), and John McDonnell
(Labour) – attended and responded to the distinguished panel.
Selma James, co-ordinator of the Global Women’s
Strike, was in the chair.
concentrated on Clause 8 of the Bill which – together with the
proposal put forward by the former Defence Secretary to
re-write the Geneva
Convention legalising pre-emptive military action –
would expressly legitimise occupation.
support from individuals and organisations,
including refuseniks, came from France, Israel, Italy, Turkey, UK
and US. Especially notable was the message from Poland, stressing
that Clause 8 undermines the Nuremberg Principles, established in
order to prevent wars of aggression and military occupations like
the one perpetrated in Poland and other countries by Hitler, and the
present ”criminal occupation of Iraq”.
The meeting ended
with a commitment that MPs will be lobbied immediately to support Mr
is a network of men working with the Global Women’s Strike
Invest in Caring not Killing.
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