Navy Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes Issues Final Statement Prior to...

Navy Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes Issues Final Statement Prior to Wednesday’s Court Martial



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San Diego, TX–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–May 10, 2005

The following statement was issued today by Navy Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes prior to his court martial trial in San Diego on Wednesday:

Yesterday I formally entered a plea of “not guilty” to charges of unauthorized absence and missing movement stemming from my refusal to board the Iraq-bound ship USS Bonhomme Richard on December 6, 2004. I will be tried in a special court martial on 05/11/2005.

At yesterday’s preliminary proceedings, my attorney submitted a motion to dismiss the unauthorized absence charge, since it is part of the missing movement charge. Prosecutor Lt. Hale in turn moved to exclude all evidence pertaining to the legitimacy of the Iraq war. The presiding judge, decided to reserve ruling on both motions until the actual special court martial begins.

Like all members of the military, I have been trained to recognize my personal responsibility for participating in war crimes. Since the war is illegal and has been characterized by repeated and consistent violations of international laws and treaties, of the Geneva Convention rules of war, and of generally accepted standards of human rights, I have a reasonable belief that my training required me to avoid participating in these crimes.

When I appeared at 32nd Street Naval Station last December, I spoke to members of the media who were covering the departure of USS Bonhomme with some 2,800 Marines heading for Iraq. There I announced my opposition to war in general and to being a party to the death and destruction of which the Marines would be both victims and perpetrators. At that moment I expected to be taken into custody and was surprised when the Command Duty Officer told me to “get out of here.”

Since then I formally requested discharge as a conscientious objector (CO). After receiving favorable recommendations from two interviewing officers, the investigating officer recommended rejecting my application. I have since submitted a rebuttal that is currently being reviewed but no decision has been reached.

Prior to completing my CO process, the Navy decided to raise charges before a special court martial. Despite rejecting my counter request for discharge in lieu of trial, prosecutors have offered me plea bargains that I have rejected because I must stand by my principles.

I elected to carry this cross. A cross that will take away my freedom yet set me free. However, it is the Iraqis that die for simply believing they have a right to exist in their own country who need help. It is the Iraqi families who loose children or parents for simply believing they have a right to breathe their own air. It is the misled soldiers with heroism in their heart and courage in their blood, who die at the hands of those they are misled into believing they are helping, it is they who need help carrying their cross. It is the families here at home who are left alone to mourn their unjust losses. It is humanity as a whole that is carrying the mighty weight of unprovoked, unnecessary and unjust violence.

We live in a historical moment where the lives and deaths of 2 individuals have captivated the world and brought to the surface strong consideration for the value of human life. Our own leaders have recommended that we “err on the side of life.”

Since the inception of this cruel war we have caused approximately 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths and nearly 1,600 American military deaths. Thus concerned humans (and servicemen) such as myself, Camilo Mejia, Aidan Delgado and many others have chosen to respond to the voice of their hearts and conscience. While the Pentagon acquits marines of the murder they commit; we face the full extent of the law for the murder we chose NOT to commit.

For this reason, we call upon the nation to make 05/10 – 05/13 a time of national action against war, hate and injustice. We will lead with a series of events near the venue of the court martial in San Diego. These efforts will kick-off with a press conference on May 10th at 7pm at the Aswan Hall. The event series will consist of a conference series and daytime protest activities. For details about the events visit http://www.swiftsmartveterans.com.

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CONTACT:

Victor Paredes

(917) 864-9179

http://www.swiftsmartveterans.com

Navy Petty Officer Third Class Pablo Paredes Issues Final Statement Prior to Wednesday’s Court Martial