Prize "Peace through Conviction" for U.S. AWOL soldier
Prizewinner said thanks
Thank You. Ladies and Gentleman, friends, associates, and dignitaries, I would like to welcome you and thank you for your participation in this important event. I would like to accept this award not just for myself, but for all of the individuals and organizations who have stood up against the crimes against humanity being perpetrated by those in power. The tireless efforts of people in resistance have created conditions such that it is possible to imagine there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Even though today’s moment is a time for recognition I cannot express enough just how vital it is that we continue the fight. Even as I speak, more unspeakable horrors are being unleashed upon the victims of the War on Terror. I single out this event because it affects not only those who have experienced that ill-advised struggle first-hand, but it has affected each and every one of us. How easy was it for fear and distrust of peoples we don´t even begin to understand to give way to events that have spiraled out of control. Millions have died, millions more are suffering from life-long injuries, inadequate infrastructures, disease, malnutrition, the effects of depleted uranium, and are fleeing their homelands with the fear they will never return. The peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Gaza, and even large segments of the populations of the NATO countries have had their lives shattered by the events of these past eight years. I must ask, after all of the death and suffering that has wreaked havoc on our lives, what have we accomplished? Who has benefitted from turning the sands of the Middle East and the mountains of Afghanistan into fields of blood? What is our objective? After seeing the devastating effects of war, and after reviewing the evidence which the governments have used to justify starting these conflicts, I must conclude that there is no justifiable reason for these atrocities to continue and we must stop these massacres now!!
To the soldiers that have resisted the call for war, no matter which country you are from: never give up! Though many of our number have been wrongly accused and imprisoned for doing the right thing, we must press on. Thousands have already defected from our respective military services in protest to our nations’ imperialistic adventures, with more joining our ranks every day. We will continue the fight to stop those infringing upon the rights of humanity.
We have heard leaders in the recent past promise that “change is coming”. However, we were not told specifically what kind of “change” we should be expecting. I don´t know about you, but to me that is disturbing. Though we are reasonable people and are willing to give someone a chance, we cannot allow ourselves to fall prey to the temptation of believing that things will get better by themselves. We all must stand up and pressure our leaders to take heed to our demands to pursue solutions other than armed conflict. The use of force is a devastating tool that should only be used as a last resort, and even then we must use it grudgingly and with heavy hearts. Most important is that the leaders of the world must realize that they must be honest to their citizens about the nature of these conflicts. Too often, our men and women in uniform have been used as tools to push forward an agenda that only suits those in power. My friends, I ask each and every one of you to stand beside your fellow man, raise your voices to heaven, and let those individuals in that hotel know that we are not going anywhere with their war policies, and that this carnage will no longer be tolerated and we will continue to fight until the governments of the world pursue an agenda for peace! Thank You.
André Shepherd: Speak to thank for the Prize "Peace through Conviction" 2009 of Munich American Peace Committee, February 7, 2009.