The rising ranks of anti-war protestors

By The News Jun 05, 2007

The number of conscientious objectors to the war in Iraq is growing as the war’s death toll rises. Just recently, one of them, Marine Corporal Adam Kokesh, 25, was discharged involuntarily, after being pictured at an anti-war protest dressed in military camouflage, the BBC reported today.

…[An investigative board] recommended he should receive a general discharge under honourable conditions, one step below an honourable discharge. Cpl Kokesh, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, appeared at the Washington demonstration in March. …"I’m standing on principle and we’re going to contest this on principle. It’s not going to go away," Kokesh said. "It’s clear these tactics of intimidation are being used against members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. "Freedom of speech means the right to say what other people don’t want to hear." Cpl Kokesh is a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, a body consisting of people who have left active service but still have to fulfil the remainder of their eight-year military obligations and can be called back to duty. His service was due to end on 18 June this year.

Kokesh joins other ranked military officers, such as Ltn. Ehren Watada and Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía who both became faces of the anti-war movement after refusing to fight in Iraq. "When is someone going to stand up and put a stop to all of this?" Watada told ColorLines Magazine. "When is someone going to hold the people who perpetrated this unlawful war accountable? I didn’t stand much of a chance. But before I could expect others to act, I had to do something myself–no matter what the costs." The cover story for ColorLines’ September issue will spotlight the toughest battle some officers encounter– leaving the war’s frontline– by featuring Road from ar Ramadi, a book about Mejía’s journey–from Central America where he grew up, to the U.S. where he was a working-class immigrant, and finally, to the fields of Iraq.