The Guardian April 7, 2004

US soldier faces jail for refusal to return to Iraq

Call for support

Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia is a young US soldier with the 
Florida National Guard who is refusing to return to military 
service in Iraq. He has served in the Army and National Guard for 
over eight years and in Iraq from March to October, 2003. He 
returned to the US for two weeks' R&R in October, and decided he 
could not in good conscience return to the illegal and immoral 
war in Iraq.

On March 15, Camilo Mejia reported back to the military at 
Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, and submitted to them a 
40-page application for Conscientious Objector status. He has 
been at Ft Stewart in Georgia since March 17. On March 25 he was 
charged by the Army with desertion. He is currently confined to 
base at Ft Stewart.

Several Members of Congress have written to the Army asking them 
to give serious consideration to Camilo's application for 
Consciencious Objector status. Camilo's lawyers plan to put the 
WAR on trial at Camilo's trial later this spring or summer.

His mother Maritza Catillo is a member of Military Families Speak 
Out, one of a growing number of groups in the US dedicated to 
supporting military personnel who can no longer carry out their 
"duty" and live with their conscience. They also call on 
opponents of US military aggression to speak out and give their 

The organisation has circulated a letter from Maritza Castillo, 
regarding her son, seeking support. The letter reads:

My name is Maritza Castillo and I'm an active member of Military 
Family Speak Out (MFSO). I'm also the mother of Staff Sergeant 
Camilo Mejia.

On March 24, 2004, Louis Font, my son's lawyer informed me about 
the charges that my son is being accused of. This is what he told 

"Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, 28, of Miami, Florida was charged by 
his commanders at Ft. Stewart, Georgia with desertion on 
Wednesday, March 24, 2004. He will be tried by a Special Court 
Martial, which means that the maximum sentence he can receive is 
one year imprisonment and a Bad Conduct Discharge."

"I've also learned that army officials have restricted Camilo to 
Ft Stewart and have barred him from conducting face to face 
interviews on the base with the media. Louis Font, his civilian 
attorney, plans to challenge this "gag" order, arguing that my 
son's rights to free speech are being abridged.

President Bush does not give any explanation about the weapons of 
mass destruction that have not been found and for which he 
invaded and bombarded the people of Iraq and sent our young 
soldiers to die in this illegal and immoral war. Instead he makes 
a mockery about the reasons he's had to spend the money of the 
American people in this bellicose adventure. When he is asked 
about the weapons of mass destruction and the chemical weapons, 
he responds with vulgar gestures.

It is in this context that the army ignores the conscientious 
objection application that my son Camilo submitted to this 
institution. Instead they accuse him of desertion.

I'm addressing the people of the United States of America, the 
Hispanic Community and the world to express my deepest sorrow and 
indignation about the injustice that is being made against my 
son. I want to ask you to continue giving him your support.

Please write letters to Camilo expressing your support towards 
his cause. Send letters to the Army Officials and to the Congress 
of the United States demanding that his conscientious objection 
application be accepted.

Peace and solidarity to the world.

Maritza Castillo

Camilo's Address: Ssg. Mejia CamiloA Company USAG MED-HOLD 865Hase Road, Ft. Stewart, GA 31315 His Commander: Major General William G. Webster, Jr. Commanding General, Fort Stewart,42 Wayne Place,Ft Stewart GA 31314 Veterans Call to Conscience to Active Duty Troops and Reservists 4742 42nd Ave. SW #142Seattle, WA 98116-4553 For more information:

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