Protest against the war Saturday (January l8) noon at City Hall. Rating: NNNNN
An open letter to all members of the Canadian Armed Forces:Friends, as soldiers, you have sworn to protect Canada and Canadians, even at the risk of your own lives.
Few occupations require such sacrifice. But Canada and Canadians are not under threat from the people of Iraq.
Although the media only covers a small percentage of them, we're sure you are aware of the massive demonstrations against war across North America and Europe.
This is not to defend in any way the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, but we need to ask ourselves why there is such a focus on Iraq when Canada, the U.S. and UK support dozens of similarly brutal regimes around the globe, all of which commit gross abuses of human rights.
You likely have your own suspicions about this war.
Indeed, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning group International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War estimates immediate casualties of a war against Iraq could number in excess of half a million people. This does not include the massive refugee crisis, famine and environmental disaster that are likely to befall the region as well.
The United Nations estimates that as many as 10 million Iraqis could be put at risk of disease and hunger.
As soldiers, some of you have told us that yours is not to question, but simply to serve.
But we believe at this crucial time that you do have a choice: a choice to act morally, legally, safely, to avert the great humanitarian disaster that awaits the Iraqi people.
Quite simply, we are encouraging you to lay down your weapons and refuse to fight.
This is not only your right, but also your obligation under international law.
Under the Nuremberg Principles, you have an obligation not to follow the orders of leaders who are preparing crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.
We are all bound by what U.S. chief prosecutor Robert K. Jackson declared at the drafting of the principles back in 1948 -- that "individuals have intentional duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state."
It was further declared at the Tokyo war crimes trial that "anyone with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something about it is a potential criminal under international law unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent commission of the crimes."
If thousands of men and women like yourselves refused to fight, it would make current and future war plans difficult, if not impossible, to carry out.
Few Canadians likely know better than you that, as in all wars, soldiers risk returning, if they do return, horribly injured, traumatized, sick, with a wide range of debilitating illnesses.
You will remember that veterans who returned from the 1991 war against Iraq with deadly radioactive poisoning from exposure to depleted uranium and post-traumatic stress disorder received little or no support or compensation from the defence department.
They were greeted with stone cold silence from the men who sent them to fight.
In the unlikely event that you do face serious armed resistance from the Iraqi forces, it is quite possible that some of the weapons or weapons components they aim at you will have been made right here in Canada, which continues to profit from a $5-billion-per-year war industry.
So we call on you: Refuse orders. Stay at home with your friends and families. Work with us to turn armouries into housing for the homeless and transform the defence department into the department of human needs.
Help us teach the world that you can't keep the peace with a gun. Peace.Matthew Behrens is co-founder of Homes Not Bombs