AWOL U.S. soldier André Shepherd on the International Day of Conscientious Objection
"We will not rest until the war criminals are brought to justice"
Speaking on the occasion of the International Day of Conscientious Objection on May 15, André Shepherd, AWOL from the United States Army and seeking asylum in Germany, declared: "Many people have suffered and died as a result of the wars of the United States of America. Our nation has tortured, harassed, lied to and destroyed nations. I and others have come to the conclusion that the War on Terror is a fraud. We will not rest until the war criminals are brought to justice."
The 31 year old André Shepherd joined the U.S. Army in 2004 and after six month’s training was deployed to Iraq as an Apache helicopter mechanic. When he returned to his unit in Katterbach (Bavaria), he began intensively researching the war in Iraq, trying to come to terms with what the U.S. military was doing to the civilian population there. "In the end", said André Shepherd, "I knew the truth: if I went to Iraq again, I would be responsible for the death and misery of innocent people. The path for me was clear: I had to get out of the Army."
Six months ago, on November 26, 2008, André Shepherd applied for asylum in Germany. 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 in early February.
The foundation of his application points to the October of 2006 Qualification Directive of the European Union, which states that all who refuse participation in wars and conflicts which are contrary to international law must be protected.
Connection e.V. and the Military Counseling Network, organizations which are working to support André Shepherd in his asylum proceedings, are emphasizing the importance of his request: "With his application André Shepherd is fundamentally questioning the American led War in Iraq and the allies involved", declared Rudi Friedrich of Connection e.V. today. "The Qualification Directive clearly strengthens the position of André Shepherd. Now the question is if Germany and the European Union are coureagous enough to protect persons who are opposed to the war."
Local groups within the German peace movement have already made the André Shepherd support campaign their main focus, such as in Berlin, the Tübingen Progressive Americans, Munich American Peace Committee, DFG-VK Nordrhein-Westfalen, DFG-VK Karlsruhe and DFG-VK Kleve. Thousands of signatures have been collected and sent to the German government. Connection e.V. and Military Counseling Network ask for further support in the face of this extremely important case.
Rudi Friedrich (069-82375534) and Tim Huber (06223-47506)
Connection e.V. and Military Counseling Network, Press release, May 15, 2009