DEMONSTRATIONS will be staged in eight different countries today, from Britain and the United States to Poland and Italy, demanding the release of British soldier Joe Glenton, the first soldier in Europe to publicly refuse to fight in Afghanistan.
If convicted, he could be jailed for two years.
Demonstrators will assemble outside Joe Glenton’s court martial hearing in Britain to demand that the charges against him are dropped and he is immediately freed.
Giorgio Riva, from Payday, one of the groups supporting Joe Glenton, said: ‘Those who have engineered this war should be tried, not Joe Glenton.’
Joe Glenton has already been to Afghanistan, but in 2007 he went AWOL (Absent Without Leave). He handed himself in last year and was jailed for a month, before being released on condition that he did not speak out in public.
He was also diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
But Glenton refused to remain silent and took part in a march to demand the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.
A letter of protest will be handed in to the Ministry of Defence today against his victimisation for voicing what millions outside the military, and many within it, already believe. The letter is signed by individuals and organisations from 34 countries. Among the signatories is the award-winning Italian playwright Dario Fo.
Joe Glenton is also winning large support in the United States, the main imperialist power involved in the war.
Camilo Mejia, a former US army staff sergeant, was jailed after refusing to return to Iraq in 2004, having witnessed atrocities committed by the army against civilians.
He said: ‘The people of Britain should raise hell on earth if Glenton is convicted for refusing to fight in that criminal occupation.
‘Without public support for war resisters our governments will continue to invade and occupy other countries with absolute impunity – Free Glenton, Stop the War.’
Payday said that the Ministry of Defence’s own figures show that, since 2003 when US and UK troops invaded Iraq, there have been over 17,000 occasions when soldiers have gone AWOL.
There is growing demoralisation and growing opposition within the ranks of the imperialist armies in Britain and the United States to the continued occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2004, images were made public showing the torture and abuse of Iraqis detained in Abu Ghraib prison following the US-UK invasion.
The criminal attack on Fallujah also produced growing disquiet amongst US troops, who knew that phosphorus bombs and depleted uranium shells and other munitions were being used against women and children.
The same is happening now to British troops in Afghanistan. Every day more of them are being killed by the fierce Afghan resistance to their presence in the country, while the use of heavy artillery and airpower is killing hundreds of Afghan civilians.
Many US and UK troops are being mutilated for the ‘cause’ of US and UK imperialism, which more and more are becoming opposed to.
However, this war can only be stopped by the mobilisation of the working class within Britain, America and the rest of the capitalist world to smash imperialism.
Our enemy is not the people of Afghanistan or Iraq, our enemy is here at home, the government that sent British troops to invade these countries in the first place.
The Tories supported both of these invasions. The only government that can stop these wars and withdraw British troops is a workers government.
We urge all readers to fight for the release of Joe Glenton and the withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan. Demand that the trade unions in Britain call a general strike against the occupation to bring the government down.