By Courage to Resist
August 7, 2008
Last month 25-year-old U.S. Army PFC Robin Long became the first war resister since the Vietnam War to be forcefully deported from Canadian soil and handed over to military authorities. Robin is currently being held in the El Paso County Jail, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, awaiting a military court martial for resisting the unjust and illegal war against and occupation of Iraq. Robin will be court martialed for desertion “with intent to remain away permanently” — Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice — in early September. The maximum allowable penalty for a guilty verdict on this charge is three years confinement, forfeiture of pay, and a dishonorable discharge from the Army.
In order to expedite Robin’s trial, it appears that his unit command, the Fourth Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division is opting to not charge Robin with speech-related violations of military discipline; opting to try and convict Robin as fast as possible.
Robin went absent without leave (AWOL) from the Army in 2005, realizing that he had significant moral opposition to the war and the lies he had been told regarding the reason for invasion and occupation of Iraq. After being transferred to an Iraq bound combat unit, Robin went to Boise, Id. (his home town) where he stayed for several months, before traveling to Canada.
Robin recently talked to Courage to Resist about why he enlisted. “When the U.S. first attacked Iraq, I was told by my president that it was because of direct ties to Al-Qaida and weapons of mass destruction.” Robin explained that while he was uneasy about his personal role in fighting, the Iraq War seemed justified. So when his recruiter promised him a non-combat position within the U.S., he took it. Regarding his decision to resist later, Robin explained, “I made the best decision. Regardless of what hardships I go through, I could have put Iraqi families through more hardships. I have no regrets.” When asked by the Boise Weekly, in May of 2006, if he was prepared to go to jail, Robin replied, “Yeah if it came down to that, I’d be willing to go to prison because I know I did the right thing and I can sleep at night and my conscience is still good.”
On July 27th, 2008 Garrett Reppenhagen of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Lee Zaslofsky of the War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada), members of the Springs Action Alliance and more joined James Branum, Robin Long’s civilian lawyer in Pioneer Park to demand Robin Long’s freedom. Garrett praised Robin, declaring “I support Robin Long because he is a Soldier of Conscience. There is a huge propaganda campaign in this country to get young men to join the military. He bought the hype. He signed up for a promised [non-combat] job, but it turned out not to be so. He decided to go to Canada and follow his conscience instead.”
As Robin awaits trial by military tribunal, a general court martial, he sits in the El Paso County Jail — surrounded by other military inmates, as well as civilians serving time on convictions or awaiting criminal prosecution. In the past Robin would have been held in pretrial confinement in an Army stockade, but with rising troop level needs, the Army has chosen to shut down many stockades and outsource confinement of soldiers to civilian authorities. With the exception of Robin’s Lawyer, James Branum, all of Robin’s visitors must communicate with him via a camera and real time video screen. Robin is allowed out of doors for only one hour a day, and even then cannot see anything but a thin strip of sky, directly overhead.
Despite the deprivations of the El Paso county jail, Mr. Branum reports that Robin is “…in considerably good spirits, especially considering all that he is going through.” In a recent phone interview with Courage to Resist Robin reported that he was very happy with Mr. Branum calling him “awesome” as well as his military assigned defense lawyer “a smart cookie” in Robin’s words. He has received many visitors — pastors and members of local congregations, members of the IVAW among them. He wants everyone to know that the cards and the letters of support he receives are most welcome and give him of true sense of the support that is swelling for him, outside the confines of his cell. Lee Zaslofsky, of the Canadian WRSC reports that Robin is “..aware of what he might have to face, and is prepared to face it with courage and without bitterness.”
The fact remains, however, that the Iraq War is unjust and illegal. The U.N. Charter, the Geneva Convention and the Nuremberg principles all bar wars of aggression. The U.S. Constitution makes such treaties part of American law as well. Robin Long is a hero for not only recognizing these truths, but putting his future on the line to courageously resist participating in an immoral occupation. The least we can do is support Robin, and demand his immediate freedom.
What you can do now to support Robin
1. Donate to Robin’s legal defense
By mail: Make checks out to “Courage to Resist / IHC” and note “Robin Long” in the memo field. Mail to:
Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave #41
Oakland CA 94610
Courage to Resist is committed to covering Robin’s legal and related defense expenses. Thank you for helping make that possible.
Also: You are also welcome to contribute directly to Robin’s legal expenses via his civilian lawyer James Branum. Visit girightslawyer.com, select “Pay Online via PayPal” (lower left), and in the comments field note “Robin Long”. Note that this type of donation is not tax-deductible.
2. Send letters of support to Robin
Robin Long, CJC
2739 East Las Vegas
Colorado Springs CO 80906
Robin’s pre-trial confinement has been outsourced by Fort Carson military authorities to the local county jail.
Robin is allowed to receive hand-written or typed letters only. Do NOT include postage stamps, drawings, stickers, copied photos or print articles. Robin cannot receive packages of any type (with the book exception as described below).
3. Send Robin a money order for commissary items
Anything Robin gets (postage stamps, toothbrush, shirts, paper, snacks, supplements, etc.) must be ordered through the commissary. Each inmate has an account to which friends may make deposits. To do so, a money order in U.S. funds must be sent to the address above made out to “Robin Long, EPSO”. The sender’s name must be written on the money order.
4. Send Robin a book
Robin is allowed to receive books which are ordered online and sent directly to him at the county jail from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. These two companies know the procedure to follow for delivering books for inmates.