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Old 09-22-2004, 01:24 AM   #1
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ai URGENT ACTION

USA: Prisoner of conscience: Abdullah William Webster (m), sergeant

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 51/137/2004

http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR511372004

Quote:
UA 267/04 Prisoner of conscience 17 September 2004
USA Abdullah William Webster (m), sergeant
On 3 June, Sergeant Abdullah William Webster was sentenced by US court-martial
to 14 months imprisonment for refusing to participate in the war in Iraq on the
basis of his religious beliefs. Amnesty International considers him to be a
prisoner of conscience, imprisoned for his conscientious objection to
participating in war.

Abdullah Webster is a US citizen who has served in the US army since 1985. He
had been based in Bamberg, Germany since 2001 from where he was requested to
deploy to Iraq between March and April 2003. In September 2003 he submitted a
conscientious objector application to secure his release from military
obligations in Iraq on the basis that his religion prohibited him from
participating in any aggressive war against, or in any oppression or injustice
to, Muslims or non-Muslims. He later withdrew this application after receiving
advice that it would not be successful.

Abdullah Webster then submitted an application to be reassigned to
non-combatant services. Despite this he was ordered to deploy to Iraq in
February 2004. Following his refusal on religious grounds he was charged with
failing to obey commands from his superior and missing his Brigade’s movements.
A further application for conscientious objector status was refused on the
grounds that his objection was not to war in general but to the Iraq war in
particular. According to US Army Regulations, requests for qualification as a
conscientious objector will not be favourably considered when such requests are
based on objection to a certain war. A second application is currently being
considered by the army.

At the court-martial hearing, Abdullah Webster was sentenced to 14 months
imprisonment, a bad conduct discharge, suspension of his salary and loss of
pension and other benefits. He had been due to retire from service in 2005. He
is currently held at the US base in Mannheim, Germany.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Amnesty International considers a conscientious objector to be any person who,
for reasons of conscience or profound conviction, refuses to perform service in
the armed forces or any other direct or indirect participation in wars or armed
conflicts. This can include refusal to participate in a war because one
disagrees with its aims or the manner in which it was being waged, even if one
does not oppose taking part in all wars.

Furthermore Amnesty International considers a person to be a prisoner of
conscience when they are detained or imprisoned solely because they have been
denied or refused their right to register an objection or to perform a
genuinely civilian alternative service. They would also be prisoners of
conscience if they are imprisoned for leaving the armed forces without
authorization for reasons of conscience, if they have taken reasonable steps to
secure release from military obligations.
i'd be happy if some of you would take action (also i know that some of you won't agree with ai's opinion):

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:
-urging that Abdullah William Webster be released immediately and unconditionally, with restoration of his benefits, pointing out that Amnesty International considers him to be prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for his conscientious objection to participating in war;
-explaining that Amnesty International considers that he took reasonable steps to secure his release from military obligations through legal means, including applying for conscientious objector status.

APPEALS TO:
Colonel William H. Haight III
1 ID Engineer Brigade
Unit 27562
APO, AE
09139
USA
Fax: +49 951 300 7685
Email: william.haight@us.army.mil
Salutation: Dear Colonel

Lieutenant Colonel Gerald P. O’Connor
HHC 82nd Engineer Battalion
Unit 27522
APO, AE
09139
USA
Fax: +49 951 300 8612
Email: gerald.oconnor@us.army.mil
Salutation: Dear Lieutenant Colonel

Major David K. Kennedy
Rear Detachment Commander
Unit 27562
APO, AE
09139
USA
Fax: +49 951 300 7685
Salutation: Dear Major

The Honorable Les Brownlee
Acting Secretary of the Army
102 Army Pentagon
Room 3E588
Washington DC 20310-0102
USA
Fax: +1 703 697 0720
Email: les.brownlee@us.army.mil
Salutation: Dear Secretary

COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of the United States of America accredited to your country.
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Old 09-22-2004, 06:37 AM   #2
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Re: ai URGENT ACTION

If the guy didnt want to go to a war which his country is fighting, why did he join US Army?

Sorry but it doesnt make any sense to me
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Old 09-22-2004, 06:43 AM   #3
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if someone is allowed to make a choice on basis on some religious belief or conscience, other should also be allowed to make decision on his or her MOOD.

there should be consistency
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Old 09-22-2004, 06:47 AM   #4
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Religious belief is a legitimate means for conciencious objection, I believe a few Quakers in WWII who enlisted did not serve in a combat capacity (but others did) - I do question the fact that he withdrew his application and just refused outright, there are proper channels for dealing with this situation and they should have been observed (who advised him to withdraw the application).
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Old 09-22-2004, 07:10 AM   #5
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suppose there are 2 guys

one refuses quoting some grand old text book..saying he doesnt want to go to war..

other refuses because his mood is not just right.

both should be given equal treatment...whatever that is.....

if that means PROMOTION, then be it..

but consistency is the KEY in a secular government.
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Old 09-22-2004, 07:39 AM   #6
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He chose the Army as a career for the 19 years. And now, he objects to the service required?

AI needs to think through their cases a little better.
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Old 09-22-2004, 10:04 AM   #7
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In our country it's completely legal to stop using a weapon or even working for the military for ethic/religious/morale reasons anytime.
Of course you have to pass an interview and psychologists suggest if you're simply afraid of the job you singed on or if it is really for ethic/religious/morale.
And if i see the circumstances i can imagine that it's real, and i'm sure they (ai) won't set him on the urgent-action list "just for fun"
Imagine you sign up in the military to defend your country (at lest that's what motivates you to do the job). A few years later global situation changes and let's say (because you're a christian) your country would invade Israel to enforce UN resolution.
Because of the historical context of your religion many things come up to your mind by the idea of "colaterale damage" at a place where jesus climbed a hill, prayed to god the whole night and spoke about the laws, killing, revenge and forgiveness ( Matthew 5:1-7:29 ) i'm sure such experiences can change a man, maybe he thinks of violence differently, maybe he's still willing to defend his country but not willing to participate in a war of aggression.
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Old 09-22-2004, 01:10 PM   #8
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He applied for a noncombatant position, did he not? He didn't out-and-out refuse to serve.
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Old 09-22-2004, 02:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


He chose the Army as a career for the 19 years. And now, he objects to the service required?
Fighting in Iraq is not defending America.

Occupying Iraq is not defending America.
Iraq is the type of venture that should allow anyone who enlisted before the start of it to opt out.
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Old 09-22-2004, 02:34 PM   #10
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Unless you have some other concept of an armed forces you want to share; the model you suggest, where the soldier gets to pick and choose their participation, does not work.
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Old 09-22-2004, 02:51 PM   #11
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Why do you think it won't work? Do you think that the majority of Soldiers would run away from a war?
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Old 09-22-2004, 03:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Unless you have some other concept of an armed forces you want to share; the model you suggest, where the soldier gets to pick and choose their participation, does not work.

It's is called the Department of Defense.


I would not agree if he wanted AI for the Afghan campaign against the Taliban.

Iraq was a war of choice fought for reasons that proved to be false.
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Old 09-22-2004, 04:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Klaus
nbcrusader
Why do you think it won't work? Do you think that the majority of Soldiers would run away from a war?
A majority would not run away, but and army is built and dependent upon each member being able to rely on each other to do their job.

Create an exception in one case, and be prepared to make exceptions in every case.
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Old 09-22-2004, 07:37 PM   #14
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What bothers me is that this man did not refuse to complete his service--he requested to be assigned to a noncombatant position, and this was denied. Why? Are there really that many Muslims in the military that granting such a request would create a huge problem for combat forces?
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Old 09-23-2004, 02:00 AM   #15
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Either you join the army and follow its rules or you dont join.

You join US Army and want to follow Canadian Army rules, please join Canadian Army.

Army or military is not for everyone!!!

As simple as that.
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