The Green Party of Oklahoma joins people of conscience around the world in decrying the harshness of the punishment given to Robin Long by the Army on August 22 at Ft. Carson, Colorado.
With Robin Long being the first Iraq war resister deported from Canada and turned over to the U.S. military, the Army clearly intended to make an example of the case. The sentence of 15 months confinement, a demotion to private, and dishonorable discharge, is extreme, considering Long’s only “crime” is moral opposition to the Iraq war.
As determined at the Ft. Carson court-martial, Robin’s refusal to go to Iraq was punished with the equivalent of a felony conviction in many states — a sentence much harsher than that given to personnel whose actions in uniform led to loss of life or serious compromise of U.S. stature and security. It could permanently impact Robin’s future employment options and ability to support his family.
Using Long as a symbol to dissuade others from similar actions will not work, as the call to follow one’s moral compass is a higher command than any military order. Instead, it will only make him a martyr to anti-war efforts, especially in Canada, where citizens are protesting their government’s collusion with the Bush Administration’s misguided foreign policy. Robin Long is only one of many who have fled to Canada rather than act in opposition to their conscience; his harsh punishment has galvanized grassroots efforts to allow the others to stay.
We call on the Army to re-evaluate the sentence. We believe that Robin should serve three months (less time already served), and the discharge be changed to Other Than Honorable — still a serious punishment that should satisfy the Army’s need to make Robin pay for his refusal to deploy as ordered.
We look forward to supporting Robin Long during his imprisonment, working with his support committee, and continuing to promote the growing resistance movement in the U.S. military.
Further, we applaud the work of War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada), Courage to Resist, and Oklahoma Green Party member James M. Branum (Long’s civilian attorney), in their ongoing advocacy on Robin Long’s behalf. We encourage those who want to show support for Robin or to learn more about the case to visit freerobin.org.