Rebel serving soldier Joe Glenton uses anti-war march to attack politicians
A serving soldier, Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, used an anti-war march in London to accuse politicians of abusing the trust of the Army and servicemen.
By Andrew Alderson
and Rebecca Lefort
Photo: JULIAN SIMMONDS
L/Cpl Glenton, who is facing a court martial for refusing to return to Afghanistan, made his comments before an anti-war demonstration through central London attended by an estimated crowd of 5,000 people.
L/Cpl Glenton, 27, from the Royal Logistic Corps, was joined by former colleagues, military families and anti-war protesters in the march, which called for the 9,000-strong British force to be brought home.
He issued a statement - at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park - before the march saying: "When I went to Afghanistan I was proud to serve the Army and to serve my country, but before long I realised the Government was using the Army for its own ends.
"It is distressing to disobey orders but when Britain follows America in continuing to wage war against one of the world's poorest countries I feel I have no choice.
"The Geneva Convention was launched after the Second World War and the Nazi extermination of six million Jews. It means no soldier can say I was just obeying orders.
"Politicians have abused the trust of the Army and the soldiers who serve. That is why I am compelled and proud to march for Stop The War Coalition today."
L/Cpl Glenton, from Norwich, who defied orders in order to go on the march with his wife Clare, led the demonstration through the city.
After the march ended, L/Cpl Glenton addressed the crowd. He said: "I'm here today to make a stand beside you because I believe great wrongs have been perpetrated in Afghanistan.
"I cannot, in good conscience, be part of them. I'm bound by law and moral duty to try and stop them. I'm a soldier and I belong to the profession of arms.
"I expected to go to war but I also expected that the need to defend this country's interests would be legal and justifiable. I don't think this is too much to ask. It's now apparent that the conflict is neither of these and that's why I must make this stand."
John Tipple, who is a member of L/Cpl Glenton's legal team and who was also on the march, said: "I am delighted to be here with someone who is showing so much courage. If the politicians showed a fraction of it, we would not be in this position.
"Joe believed he was going to liberate women, sort out warlords and sort out opium problems but, in reality, his job was to supply the weaponry for the frontline."
Mr Tipple added: "After he left his barracks, he was given a direct order from his commanding officer not to come on the march. He is disobeying a direct order and we expect he may get arrested again."
Having joined the Army in 2004, L/Cpl Glenton, went absent without leave in 2007 before handing himself in after two years and six days.
A total of 222 British troops have died since operations in Afghanistan began. The most recent serviceman to die was Corporal James Oakland, 26, of the Royal Military Police, who was killed on Thursday in an explosion while he was on foot patrol near Gereshk in Helmand Province.
* Almost half of the UK public believe that military victory in Afghanistan is impossible and significant majorities think British troops are not winning the war and should be withdrawn either immediately or within the next year, according to a new poll.
The YouGov survey for Channel 4 News uncovered a much more pessimistic attitude towards the conflict than in a similar survey in 2007, when 36 per cent said that victory was not possible.
Only six per cent of those taking part in the poll said that British troops were winning the war, compared with 36 per cent who said they were not winning yet but eventual victory was possible, and 48 per cent who said that victory was not possible.
See also: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/25/rebel-soldier-wants-afghan-exit