EURO-MPs HOLD STRASBOURG HEARING AFTER SAS SOLDIER QUITS ‘WAR OF AGGRESSION’
Event: Press conference with Caroline Lucas MEP, Tobias Pflüger
MEP: the right of soldiers to refuse to participate in wars
of questionable legality
Place: European Parliament, Strasbourg, Press Room
Time: Tuesday, March 14th, 3pm
EURO-MPs in Strasbourg are to take evidence from soldiers and anti-war
activists at a hearing into the right of soldiers to refuse to take part in
military action of questionable legality.
The hearing, which has been organised by the Parliament’s cross-party Peace
Initiatives Intergroup, takes place just days after soldier Ben Griffin
resigned from the UK’s SAS after witnessing ‘dozens of illegal acts’ during
three months in Iraq.
Though Mr Griffin has been discharged without punishment, pre-trial hearing
are due to stat this week into RAF doctor Flight Lieutenant Mlcolm
Kendall-Smith for refusing to return to Iraq on the grounds that the war is
Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas, co-founder and Co-President of the
Intergroup, will argue that we can’t blame soldiers for ‘simply following
unlawful orders’ if we don’t respect their right to refuse them.
She said: “The invasion of Iraq directly contravened the UN Charter, which
prohibits military action in the absence of a clear Security Council
conflict resolution or peacekeeping mandate.
“Yet individual servicemen and women – thousands of whom have lost their
lives in the deadly quagmire of Iraq – have not been permitted to refuse to
“The path to international peace and justice lies in respect for the UN and
the rule of law: this must include honouring the right of individuals to
refuse to participate in conflicts which violate these principles, and the
EU and its member nations must ensure this right is protected by legislation
The hearing, which is open to all MEPs, will address the issues surrounding
individual participation in armed conflicts which are contrary to
international law or raise serious questions of conscience for those
The hearing will take evidence from George Solomou of the UK’s Royal Army
Medical Corps, Major Florian Pfaff of the German Army, US serviceman Hart
Viges, and German peace activist Rudi Friedrich of Connection E.V.
US anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey is one of the 2,400 US
and UK soldiers killed in Iraq, had been due to give evidence at the
hearing, but was forced to withdraw from the event after being injured
whilst she was arrested at a US anti-war demonstration last week.
In a message of support for the hearing, she said: “Not only do we not have
to love our government’s policies. When they are evil, we have a patriotic
obligation to oppose them with all our strength.
“When the Bush administration uses white phosphorous on innocent men, women,
children and babies, when it uses illegal imprisonment and immoral torture
on fellow members of the human race, when it invades and occupies another
country that is no threat to the USA, we must say ‘No’.”
The hearing will be preceded by a press conference at 3pm.