Dee Knight / Workers World – 2009-06-02 09:55:33
(May 29, 2009) — In real life Travis Bishop is best known for his acoustic country music CD, “So Here We Go.” He is also known as Sgt. Bishop, currently AWOL from Fort Hood after refusing to deploy with the 57th Elite Service Battalion to Afghanistan. He told his story recently in fthoodsoldiervoices.blogspot.com.
“A few days before I was set to deploy, I was approached by members of an organization who told me that I had a choice. They told me that they were here to support me, and that if I really was against the war our country was currently in, I could choose not to go. All those old feelings and worries came back with a vengeance, and I began to question the war again. After a full day of thinking, the only reason I had come up with for me to go was the fact that my best friend was going too. … I hope that he can forgive me one day.
“So the afternoon I was set to deploy, while everyone else was loading their gear in the van headed toward the airfield, I loaded my gear in my car, and left. It was the hardest decision I have ever made.”
Bishop doesn’t want to be AWOL for months or think of himself as a deserter. But, he says: “I believe that this particular war is unjust, unconstitutional and a total abuse of our nation’s power and influence. And so, in the next few days, I will be speaking with my lawyer, and taking actions that will more than likely result in my discharge from the military, and possible jail time … and I am prepared to live with that.”
After five months in the Army, Dustin Che Stevens sat down during Airborne graduation in 2002 in order to refuse graduation. He was told to go home and wait for his discharge. Seven years later, he was arrested after being stopped for a traffic violation in his hometown of Louisville, Ky. He is charged with desertion. He is now awaiting court martial at Fort Bragg, N.C.—“Home of the Airborne.” While waiting, Stevens told Courage To Resist: “I started reading [literature on conscientious objection] and started thinking for myself. I knew in my heart and in my mind that I could not kill anyone. … I went back and told them that.”
Stevens will be court-martialed unless he “volunteers” to deploy to Afghanistan. He shares a tiny 8-by-8-foot room with three other GIs accused of desertion. He says there are about 60 others in detention, most on AWOL charges, having left the Army during or after training. “Lots of other guys return from AWOL and test positive for drugs, and are processed out,” he said. But if you return without evidence of drug use, the Airborne wants you as a combat soldier in Afghanistan.
Stevens’ attorney, James Branum, is determined to beat the desertion charge and help him avoid a long prison sentence. To support Dustin Che Stevens contact couragetoresist.org.
In a recent letter André Shepherd sent his “heartfelt thanks” to all his supporters. Last Nov. 26 he applied for asylum in Germany. The German Federal Office for Migration has not yet issued a decision, which could take several more months. Commenting on his case, he said: “This fight is not about a single soldier’s bid for freedom. Rather it is about whether or not the United States intentionally violated international law and ultimately its own laws regarding wars of aggression. Since the answer is so obvious, it should only be a matter of time before we get a ruling to that effect. Nevertheless, we have to remain vigilant in our efforts to claim victory.
“It is important to consider that although the War on Iraq is the centerpiece of our arguments, we need to take a closer look at the War on Afghanistan as well. … It saddens me to say that we have once again been hoodwinked into thinking that the actions of our leaders were made purely by ‘good intentions.’ … We must sound the alarm on the destructive nature of this war, as well as the crimes against humanity being perpetuated.”
Shepherd continues a very active asylum campaign in Germany. He has traveled across the country, “attending events and conferences that feature not only me, but other soldiers from around the world who have also decided to resist our Government’s imperialistic designs.” He has been featured on numerous major news outlets.
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