U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd receives award from German newspaper
No decision yet in German asylum process
(20.09.2010) Connection e.V. and Military Counseling Network welcome the announcement that the taz newspaper awarded its Panther Prize to U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd on Saturday, September 18th. „This is a clear sign that the German public stands in solidarity with Shepherd“, Rudi Friedrich of Connection e.V. stated today. “We are now urging the German migration authorities to finally grant André Shepherd the necessary asylum protection."
In November 2008 U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd filed an application for permanent asylum in Germany, stating why he had refused a second deployment to Iraq in 2007: “In the war of aggression against the Iraqi people, the United States violated not only domestic law, but international law as well. My applying for asylum is based on the grounds that international law has been broken and that I do not want to be forced to fight in an illegal war.”
In his asylum application, Shepherd references a directive of the European Union according to which persons are to be protected who remove themselves from wars or actions that violate international human rights law and must fear persecution in their home country for their decision. André Shepherd is still waiting for a decision from the German migration authorities concerning his application for asylum. Under U.S. military law, he would be subject to a long jail term.
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André Shepherd is an African-American from Ohio who was stationed at the U.S. military base in Ansbach-Katterbach, Germany, as an Apache helicopter mechanic. The use of the Apaches in Iraq came to worldwide attention through the Wikileaks release this year of a U.S Army video that showed the shooting from an Apache on unarmed civilians in Iraq in the summer of 2007. Shepherd was well aware of such crimes as a result of his deployment to Iraq in 2004. Back in Ansbach, he received orders to return to Iraq in 2007. Instead, he fled the U.S. base in April 2007 and went underground in Germany.
„In choosing André Shepherd, the taz Readers Award 2010 honours an Iraq war veteran whose fate made him a symbolic figure," editor Bernd Pickert said at the award ceremony, as quoted in the taz today. "André Shepherd did what soldiers are prohibited from doing: he made a decision. Alone. He took responsibility for his own decisions and said: I am not doing this anymore." Pickert praised Shepherd’s courage to defy accepted opinion and risk great personal hardship for his convictions.
Marius van Hoogstraten, Military Counseling Network (+49-(0)6223-47506)
Rudi Friedrich, Connection e.V. (+49-(0)69-82375534)
Link Wikileaks Apache Video: http://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Collateral_Murder
Connection e.V. and Military Counseling Network: Press Release, September 20, 2010