London ~~ Thursday 30 July 2009
Soldier delivers Afghan war protest to Gordon Brown
Scroll down to read Malalai Joya's call for an international anti-war movement, and Lance Corporal Joe Glenton's revelations of the horror caused by the war in Afghanistan at the Stop the War Coalition's electrifying rally on July 23 2009
• Letter condemns suffering of service personnel and Afghans
• Lance corporal faces court martial for desertion after refusing to return
By Alexandra Topping
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton and his wife Claire arrive to deliver a letter at Downing Street in London on Thursday.
A soldier who is refusing to return to Afghanistan delivered a letter of protest to the prime minister today condemning the war. Lance Corporal Joe Glenton of the Royal Logistics Corps argues that British soldiers are being used to advance US foreign policy.
Glenton, thought to be the first British soldier to openly oppose government policy, faces a court martial for desertion because of his refusal to return to the frontline. He has already served in Afghanistan and is on leave, but was due to go back.
In a letter directly addressed to Gordon Brown, Glenton, who is married and comes from Yorkshire, said his fellow soldiers had become a tool of US foreign policy. "I believe this unethical short-changing of such proud men and women has caused immeasurable suffering not only to families of British service personnel who have been killed and injured, but also to the noble people of Afghanistan," he wrote.
Glenton added that Afghans showed many of the same characteristics as British soldiers, such as "robustness, humour, utter determination and unwillingness to take a step backwards". He added: "However it is these qualities, on both sides, which I fear will continue to cause a state of attrition. These will only lead to more heartbreak within both our societies."
Glenton, who has been a soldier for five years and went on his first tour to Afghanistan in 2006, said he had to speak out against what he had seen.
"I want my feeling as a serving soldier to be known," he said. "I want the government to consider the welfare of the guys out there, and the Afghan people.
"There are serious issues that have to be addressed, people are suffering and it can't and shouldn't be allowed."
His wife, Clare Glenton, whom he married in May this year, said his decision not to return to Afghanistan had been very difficult. "Joe has been battling with these issues since I met him," she said.
"Certainly what he cares about most is the lads he served with. It has been very difficult at times, he has not been himself. The fact that he has been brave enough to do this has brought us closer together."
Chris Nineham of the Stop the War Coalition said it was a "very significant moment" in the campaign against the Afghanistan conflict.
"There is no question there is a lot of dissatisfaction and discontent among the armed forces about Britain's involvement in Afghanistan and Lance Corporal Glenton is the first serving soldier to express these views."
London ~~ Monday, 3 August 2009
Afghan soldier faces court martialBy Aleisha Scott, Press Association
A soldier will face a court-martial today for refusing to return to Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, 27, from the Royal Logistic Corp handed a letter to the Prime Minister last week saying that the army's mission will fail and troops should be withdrawn from the country.
L/Cpl Glenton, who is a member of the Stop The War Coalition, said that the Nimrod crash in 2006 was a key event which left him disillusioned with the war during his first tour of Afghanistan.
Having joined the Army in 2004, he went AWOL in 2007 before handing himself in after two years and six days.
His letter to Gordon Brown was handed in on Thursday and said: "It is my primary concern that the courage and tenacity of my fellow soldiers has become a tool of American foreign policy.
"I believe that when British military personnel submit themselves to the service of the nation and put their bodies into harm's way, the government that sends them into battle is obliged to ensure that the cause is just and right, ie for the protection of life and liberty.
"The war in Afghanistan is not reducing the terrorist risk, far from improving Afghan lives it is bringing death and devastation to their country.
"Britain has no business there.
"I do not believe that our cause in Afghanistan is just or right. I implore you, Sir, to bring our soldiers home."
L/Cpl Glenton, who lives in York, is facing a court martial for desertion and will appear at Bulford Military Court Centre, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, for a preliminary hearing to set a date for trial.
Friday, 24 July 2009
Afghan MP Malalai Joya calls for the international anti-war movement to demonstrate against the war in Afghanistan
British soldier says he faces court martial for refusing to return to Afghan war
By Feyzi Ismail
On Thursday 23 July, the Stop the War Coalition held one of its most electrifying rallies in its eight year history. The inspirational anti-war Afghan MP Malalai Joya was joined on the platform by Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, a serving British soldier who was speaking in public for the first time against the horror caused by the war in Afghanistan.
Malalai Joya has been called one of the bravest women in Afghanistan. She told the 300-strong audience that she’s survived five assassination attempts and is still not safe with personal security guards or by wearing a burkha to cover her identity. Yet she continues to campaign against foreign occupation and fundamentalist warlords, and for women’s rights and education. She believes all NATO troops must leave Afghanistan immediately.
Elected to the Afghan parliament as its youngest MP in 2003, her first speech called on the Afghan government to prosecute the warlords and criminals also present in the assembly. But she had barely started her speech when her microphone was cut off, angry men were raising their fists towards her and she had to be escorted out by a human chain of supporters and UN officials around her.
In 2005 she told the assembled parliament that it was “worse than a zoo.” Two years ago she was suspended from the parliament.
Afghans against occupation
She told the audience of the suffering of Afghans, and in particular women, at the hands of both occupation forces and the warlords who benefit from the occupation. If the war was ever about eradicating opium, 93% of global opium production now comes from Afghanistan, and £500m goes into the pockets of the Taliban every year because of the drug trade. Afghans have lost almost everything, she said, except that they have gained political knowledge. And they are against the occupation.
She holds little hope for the upcoming elections in August. She said the ballot box is controlled by a mafia of warlords and criminals, and that even if the democrats in Afghanistan could put up a candidate, they would inevitably become puppets of the US and NATO, or they wouldn’t survive in office. NATO could not possibly provide a solution because the troops are despised for the carnage they have brought to the country.
As Malalai repeated a number of times in the meeting, no nation can liberate another nation, and only the oppressed can rise up against their oppressors. The only solution, she said, was for the anti-war movement internationally to speak out and demonstrate against the war in their own countries, “because our enemies are afraid of international solidarity.” It will be a prolonged and risky struggle, she continued, but the Afghans must liberate themselves.
Video: Lance Corporal Joe Glenton speaks against Afghan war
Soldier ashamed and disllusioned
The other highlight of the meeting was the testimony of a serving British soldier. While Malalai fights against the war in Afghanistan, more and more British troops – who equally risk their lives fighting in Afghanistan – are realising the futility of this project. Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, who fought in Kandahar in 2006, told the audience that he came back ashamed and disillusioned. He said the army and the politicians never explained why they were there or what was going on, only that British troops were helping the Afghan people.
When he found that the Afghans were fighting against them, this came as a real shock. He spoke of the discontentment in the ranks, which he described as dangerous, and the need for Britain to withdraw its troops.
Two years ago when Glenton heard he was being posted back to Afghanistan, he decided the only sensible thing to do was to leave the army, even illegally, as he did not believe that Britain was doing anything constructive in Afghanistan. He now faces up to two years in a civilian prison. Stop the War Coalition declared it would support Glenton and any other soldier who faced the courts on account of being against the war.
Andrew Murray, Chair of Stop the War, opened the meeting by reminding us that the Stop the War Coalition was founded eight years ago in response to the threatened invasion of Afghanistan. Now that the British government has shifted its focus to Afghanistan – discussing the possibility of sending more troops, as the death toll rises past that in Iraq – so the anti-war movement will step up its campaign to mobilise public opinion to demand that all the troops are brought home as soon as possible.
Public opinion in Britain has indeed shifted against the war in Afghanistan. Whatever support the war had initially – for reducing opium production, for the reconstruction taking place, for keeping the Taliban in check, for defending women’s rights and bringing democracy – people are now cutting through the media spin. They know this is an unwinnable war, that there is no reconstruction taking place and that the longer we stay the more death and destruction we cause. As Malalai put it, the war being waged by the British government in Afghanistan not only causes untold suffering for the Afghans, but it takes away from our humanity too.
In the event of the 200th British soldier that is killed in Afghanistan, Stop the War will call on all its local groups across the country to organise street protests. The current death toll stands at 188 and is rising at an average of about one per day.
Stop the War will also be announcing shortly details of a major national demonstration in November to mark the anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion in 2001.
Malalai Joya’s new book Raising My Voice: The Extraordinary Story of the Afghan Woman Who Dares to Speak Out has just been published by Rider Books.