The following statement was published by the Our Rights Our Lives campaign, a project founded by March Forward!.
On April 1st, the Our Lives Our Rights campaign deployed veterans and active-duty soldiers to Fort Hood, TX, ahead of an impending deployment to Afghanistan with the message “You don’t have to go!”
OLOR organizers distributed thousands of leaflets on and off base, conducted high-profile visibility actions, and was covered in the local press.
As a result of this bold outreach campaign, one soldier at Fort Hood who is set to deploy to Afghanistan who was conflicted about his participation in the war saw that there was support and contacted Our Lives Our Rights.
Private (E-2) Christopher Munoz is 22 years old and married with a 3-year-old daughter. PV2 Munoz had long believed he was a conscientious objector, and was dealing with intense stress and moral conflict about his pending deployment, but was not aware that like-minded soldiers and a support network existed. Upon contacting the campaign, OLOR organizers worked with him for several weeks and found him legal counsel before he submitted his CO packet on June 25.
Despite filing as a Conscientious Objector, PV2 Munoz was still being threatened with deployment by his command. When ordered to report for duty with all of his gear for deployment, PV2 Munoz reported as ordered, but he bravely refused to bring his gear, asserting that any participation conflicted with his conscience. As a result, his chain of command was forced to back down and placed him on rear detachment. He is now no longer deploying to Afghanistan.
While PV2 Munoz still has a battle ahead to defend his right to be a Conscientious Objector, he has proven that soldiers can stand up, speak out publicly, and demand that they be exempt from being deployed—even within weeks of deployment. Like many other war resistors, PV2 Munoz is setting a heroic example to all U.S. service members.
“Christopher Munoz deserves all our support,” said Gerry Condon, a Vietnam war resister who serves on the Board of Directors of Veterans For Peace, a co-sponsor of the Our Lives Our Rights Campaign. “We need to keep reaching out to tell soldiers the truth: they don’t have to deploy to Afghanistan or other illegal wars. They have alternatives, and we are there to back them up.”
The Our Lives Our Rights campaign was founded with the understanding that the Afghanistan war is nothing but a war for the expansion of big business and military interests in a resource-rich region, causing a great humanitarian catastrophe for the Afghan people, as well as U.S. service members and their families.
“The generals and politicians know their military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan are complete failures” said Mike Prysner, an Iraq war veteran with March Forward!, a group of young veterans who founded the Our Lives Our Rights campaign. “But they continue to lie and send us on repeated bloody deployments just so they can avoid the embarrassment of a military defeat on their watch. “
OLOR affirms that the Afghanistan war is a war for the rich that is throwing away the lives and limbs of countless people, and that all U.S. service members have the right to use all means to refuse to participate in it. We will continue to engage in mass outreach campaigns on U.S. military bases to show service members like PV2 Munoz that there are alternatives, and a community to support them.
Click here if you are U.S. service member interested in receiving information about averting deployment to Afghanistan.
Click here to get involved in the important work of the Our Lives Our Rights campaign.