U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd receives peace prize
No decision yet in German asylum process
MUNICH – U.S. Army AWOL soldier André Shepherd will receive the Munich American Peace Committee peace prize this Saturday, February 7. The committee is a U.S.-peace group based in Munich, Germany. The award ceremony will be one of many events criticizing the NATO security conference also taking place in Munich. "We award this prize to André Shepherd because of his courageous and dedicated refusal of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the grave punishment he could face," said MAPC member Richard Forward.
André Shepherd applied for German asylum in November 2008. His duties as an American soldier in Iraq made it clear to him he could no longer take part in actions – or for that matter a war – that run counter to international law. Because narrow American military regulations denied him the possibility of applying to be discharged as a conscientious objector, the only remaining option for Shepherd was to go absent without leave and pursue asylum in a foreign country. The foundation of his application points to the guidelines of the European Union: All should be protected, who must withdraw themselves from a war or actions contrary to international law.
"I would like to accept this award not just for myself," said Shepherd, "but for all the individuals and organizations who have stood up to the crimes against humanity being perpetrated by those in power. The tireless efforts of peace activists have created conditions such that it is possible to imagine there is light at the end of the tunnel."
Connection e.V. and the Military Counseling Network welcome the award for André Shepherd. "With his application he has ignored the smooth and easy path," explained Tim Huber from the Military Counseling Network, which advises American objectors in Germany. "He is demonstrating that every soldier is responsible for his or her acts."
The Federal Office for Migration has not yet issued a decision, which could take several more months. Shepherd stated his reasons for pursuing asylum in a hearing before the office today. "I will make clear to the federal office why no choice other than asking Germany for protection remained for me," he explained before the hearing. "I hope the German authorities accept and support my decision."
Rudi Friedrich of the conscientious objector network Connection e.V. made it clear that André Shepherd experiences large support from Germany. "If a soldier wants to behave according to international law in a war which is violating international law, there can be only one consequence: to refuse the military obligation. That is what André Shepherd has decided. Hundreds have already made it clear with their signatures that André Shepherd should receive asylum in Germany."
Rudi Friedrich, Connection e.V. (069-8237 5534)
Tim Huber, Military Counseling Network (06223-47506)
More information can be found at www.Connection-eV.org or www.mc-network.de.
Information about the actions against the NATO security conference: www.sicherheitskonferenz.de
Connection e.V. and Military Counseling Network: Press release, February 4, 2009