A US soldier has appeared at Congress, stating his refusal to serve in Iraq, citing grounds that the US military presence there “is unconstitutional and illegal.”
Sergeant Matthis Chiroux had already served in Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and the Philippines before he was honorably discharged and placed in the reserves, which immunises him against any cheap shots that he is just a coward. As a reservist, he was due to be deployed next month in Iraq. He’s also showing further bravery by staying in the US and opening himself up to charges, rather than heading off to Canada or elsewhere.
As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter servicemember’s stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me.
I hereby lawfully refuse to participate as I will surely be a party to war crimes. Furthermore, deployment in support of illegal war violates all of my core values as a human being, but in keeping with those values, I choose to remain in the United States to defend myself from charges brought by the Army if they so wish to pursue them. I refuse to participate in the occupation of Iraq.
Some 300,000 of the 1.6 million US soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or both, an independent study showed last month.
Sgt Chiroux was speaking as part of testimonies, which were the first before Congress by Iraq veterans who have turned against the five-year-old war. Former army sergeant Kristofer Goldsmith told the landmark hearing of “lawless murders, looting and the abuse of countless Iraqis.”
I expected to find much more media coverage of this issue than seems to be online at the moment. Perhaps soldiers confirming atrocities being committed in Iraq as a matter of course is no longer ‘news’. Perhaps I’m naïve for still feeling shocked when I read such things, but I still think they are facts which should be spread widely amongst the general community.
You can read many more testimonies by former US soldiers who served in Iraq at the Iraq Veterans Against the War site.