News Release

Prisoners of Conscience Against the War


Currently in Washington, D.C., Garnanez was in the Army for five years and was a medic in Iraq from July to December 2004. She said today: “A lot of us would ask, What are we doing in Iraq? Eventually, my higher-ups would say it’s for oil — to make rich men richer. But no one in the Army can say things like that publicly for fear of punishment.” Garnanez will be taking part in protests against the war this weekend.
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Monica Benderman is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman. In July, a U.S. court-martial sentenced Sgt. Benderman to 15 months imprisonment after he allegedly refused to return for a second tour of duty with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Monica Benderman said today: “His rights are not being respected. The Army is hindering his conscientious cbjection application and his ability to see the chaplain of his choosing. His human rights are being violated.”

Amnesty International has named Kevin Benderman a “prisoner of conscience.” He recently wrote: “After growing up in a climate that glorifies war, being inundated with movies and other media that want to sanitize war, I went to the war in Iraq, and I realized that the entire business is so basically obscene and utterly inhuman, that I wanted nothing else to do with it.”
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Jones is communications associate for Pax Christi USA. He said today: “We are helping organize a series of events this weekend in D.C. as part of the protests against the war. On Monday, a group from Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq will participate in civil disobedience next to the White House. We will gather at the Metropolitan AME Church, 1518 M Street, NW, at 9 a.m. on Monday and will then march, arriving in Lafayette Park at 11:15 a.m.”
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In Binghamton, New York, the “St. Patrick’s Four” — four peace activists who spilled their own blood at a military recruiting station on St. Patrick’s Day 2003, just before the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign — are being tried on federal conspiracy charges. One state court jury refused to convict them after the peace activists convinced the jury their actions were consistent with international law. The federal government got involved this year, and the four protesters now face up to six years in prison and $275,000 in fines. They are being hindered from making similar arguments in this trial. Peter De Mott is one of the St. Patrick’s Four; Fr. Tim Taugher has testified as a character witness on their behalf. They are in court today for what may be the final day before the jury deliberates.
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Kelly is co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness. This August, a U.S. federal district judge ordered payment of a $20,000 fine against the group for violating the sanctions on Iraq by sending medicine there; they have refused to pay the fine. She said today: “The St. Patrick’s Four are being accused of using intimidation, threat or force to interfere with the work of a government official. The idea that these people would be intimidating or forceful in a physical way is clearly ridiculous. But when you watch them living sensibly as they work for peace, they could very well intimidate the rest of us because we know what they are doing is right and good.” Kelly’s recently-released book is titled Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167