proud of her defiant deserter (NY Daily News) [.pdf] Maritza
Castillo came to New York from Miami this week to remind Bush and
the Republicans that the Army locked up her soldier son but no one
can hide the truth about the war in Iraq.
Don't Cry, We Kill from Common Dreams [.pdf] Camilo supporter
Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2003,
has been speaking out against what he considers an illegal and immoral
"I Ain't Marchin' Any More." Describes the growing ranks
of servicemen and women, in Britain and the US, including Camilo,
whose consciences will not allow them to join a war to which they
"The Stand" The Guardian [.pdf]
"Camilo Mejia is the first US soldier serving in Iraq to proclaim
himself a conscientious objector. But as disillusion with the war
grows among the US army and public, he is unlikely to be the last,
says Suzanne Goldenberg."
03.16 Chicago Tribune
Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia comes out of hiding to surrender at Hanscom
Air Force Base with family members and other sympathizers at his
03.15 NBC17 News
AWOL U.S. Soldier
Surrenders As War Protest: SHERBORN, Mass. -- A Florida National
Guard soldier who refused to return to duty in Iraq surrendered
to military authorities in Massachusetts Monday.
The Miami Herald
Miami soldier resists: 'This war is evil' A Florida National Guard
soldier from Miami who served six months in Iraq refuses to return
and seeks conscientious objector status.
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. — A Florida soldier who refused
to return to duty in Iraq turned himself in to military authorities
on Monday, saying he would seek conscientious objector status.
IS FREE! On Tues, March. 15th at 6 PM, admirers and supporters
of Camilo Mejia gathered to welcome Camilo Mejia home and celebrate
his courage of conscience with the Abbey award. A "vegetarian
Potluck was shared at 6 PM, a press conference at 6:30 PM and the
ceremony at 7 PM. Co-sponsored by St. Patrick's Peace & Justice
Committee, Pax Christi-MA, Veterans for Peace, and the Sherborn
Chapter of Amnesty Intl.
USA: Freedom to dissent denied. (from Amnesty
International's web site)[.pdf] "Camilo Mejia Castillo and
Abdullah William Webster are conscientious objectors, whether or
not the US military accepts their status, and both are recognised
as prisoners of conscience by AI. Their continued detention makes
the words of President Bush and his allies ring hollow and they
should be immediately and unconditionally released."
Free Camilo buttons and bumper stickers are available for the asking
by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Free Camilo /
The Peace Abbey, 2 North Main Street, Sherborn, MA 01770.
Camilo is serving a one-year prison term at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma
after being found guilty of Desertion at his Army Court Martial
on May 21. He had refused to return to his unit, citing moral reasons
and his misgivings about the legality of the war and the conduct
of US troops toward Iraqi civilians and prisoners.
Amnesty International: Demand Immediate release of US Prisoner
of Conscience Sgt Camilo Mejia
Camilo Mejia's hearing on his application as a Conscientious Objector
on the 23rd of June, 2004 was a triumphant moment of the human spirit.
In an austere room, sitting around a table at a military prison
at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, a drama of monumental significance unfolded
like a morality play: A solitary man, refusing to desert his conscience,
stood his ground against the war in Iraq, and with his head held
high, proclaimed the power and majesty of nonviolence and love.
When the hearing was over, despite all the testimonies and the moral
imperative of his message -- resolute and confident, Camilo Mejia
was led off to confinement like a common criminal to be punished
for humanity's sin of waging war. So long as Camilo is behind bars,
no one is truly free.
Lewis Randa, Witness, Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, 6/23/04
OPEN LETTER FROM CAMILO'S MOTHER
June 3, 2004
My name is Maritza Castillo, a member of Military Families Speak
Out, and mother of Sargeant Camilo Mejia. On the 21 of May, after
a trial scripted by the Army, my son was found guilty of desertion
and sentenced to one year in prison. In their continuing efforts
to punish him, a few days following the trial, he was shipped to
Fort Sill, Oklahoma, thousands of miles from his young daughter,
his family, his lawyers and the peace organizations and friends
that support him.
He was sentenced for disobeying an order to return to Iraq to kill
people of a sovereign nation; sentenced for not hiding but instead
returning to the army to denounce abuses being committed against
the civilian population, young soldiers, and prisoners of war; sentenced
just the same as the executioners who, following orders of their
superiors, abused innocent prisoners.
I am announcing to the people of the United States of America,
of Iraq and the world that I am not giving up my struggle for my
son and against this immoral and disgraceful war; I’ll not
rest until my son receives justice!!!
I am asking people who support Camilo to write to General William
G. Webster, Jr. (address below) and ask him to reduce my son’s
sentence out of consideration of his request to be considered a
conscientious objector. Camilo decided not to return to Iraq for
moral reasons, not from cowardice. General Webster has the power
to reduce his sentence. Ask Gen. Webster that he make a transcript
of the trial available as soon as possible because my son’s
appeal cannot be presented without it. Send a copy of this letter
to Camilo’s lawyer (address below) so support for the sentence
reduction can be documented.
We are also asking that you write letters of support to Camilo
(address below), with a copy to me to assure his correspondence
is not being destroyed – a violation of his rights and another
method of making his punishment more severe.
We are also asking that people around the world contact the Costa
Rican embassy in their respective countries and urge them to demand
that the treaty between Costa Rica and the United States of America,
which clearly establishes that a Costa Rican citizen can not be
forced to extend his military service, be respected. The North American
government has ignored this treaty, ordering Camilo to go to war,
arbitrarily extending his term of service, and denying defense lawyers
the use of this treaty during his trial at Ft. Stewart on 19 May,
2004. This treaty takes priority over Stop Loss, the law that the
U.S.A. Army uses to retain U.S.A. citizens in military service in
times of war. Stop Loss does not pertain to Camilo because he is
a citizen of Costa Rica and not the United States of America. As
a sovereign nation, it is important that the government of Costa
Rica enforce this treaty.
We’re also asking for your financial support to continue
working to free Camilo, to continue working for peace and to guarantee
that justice will prevail. You can make a tax deductible donations
to the Peace Abbey/Free Camilo (address below) Code Pink/Free Camilo
At the bottom, you will find the addresses of Gen. William G. Webster,
Louis Font & Gale Glazer, Esqs. (Camilo’s lawyers), Lewis
Randa at The Peace Abbey, Camilo and myself. There are also websites
listed that offer information about Camilo.
Peace for the people of Iraq! Peace for the world! Bring our soldiers
Sincerely yours, Maritza Castillo, mother of Camilo Mej?a
Major General William G. Webster, Jr., Commanding General, Fort
Stewart, 42 Wayne Place, Ft. Stewart, GA 31314
Louis P.Font & Gale Glazer, Font &Glazer Esq., 62 Harvard
Street, Suite 100, Brookline, MA. 02445
Lewis M. Randa, The Peace Abbey, Two North Main Street, Sherborn,
Massachusetts 01770, 508-650-3659
Pt. Camilo Mejia , Building 1490, Randolph Rd., Fort Sill, Ok 73503,
In Peace and Solidarity for the World!!! Bring Our troops Home
Message from Tod Ensign of Citizen Soldier
Patriotism of Conscience
Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, an outspoken critic of U.S. military
action both before and during the war, celebrated Mass at the Peace
Abbey before Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia spoke at the Press Conference.
Camilo,accompanied by family members and supporters, along with
national and international press, boarded a bus to Hanscom Air Force
Base in Bedford, Mass. There, Camilo surrendered to military authorities.
Later the same day he was released on personal recognizance and
ordered to return to his National Guard unit in Miami, Fl. He departed
on an American Airlines flight to Miami accompanied by his mother
and aunt and reported to his unit the next morning. He was then
ordered to travel to Georgia and report the following day, March
17th to military authorities at Fort Stewart,Georgia.
Camilo Mejia's Gracious Sentiments
Dear Lewis (& everyone at the Abbey),
I wanted to thank you for everything you did for my family and
I, and for all your support, present and future. You treated us
I think what you and your family are doing is something that to
many people is hard to appreciate. Honestly I say that before the
war I would have appreciated The Peace Abbey much like a tourist
appreciates a beautiful historical building in some colorful town.
Now that I have to live with the experience and the horror of war,
The Peace Abbey is a Temple from which I draw strength and wisdom.
At times I feel weak and afraid, but spending some time with you
at the Abbey, having slept on that bed (where visiting peacemakers
from around the world sleep), and keeping the blood of Monsenor
Romero by my chest, are all things that fill me with purpose.
I have been feeling overwhelmed lately, not just by the task I
have ahead of me, but also by the departure of my girlfriend, someone
you never got to meet. But I know that I have to move forward, and
I know that my sacrifice is minimal compared to what so many other
people have done. I am afraid, but I know that what I'm about to
do is much larger than myself, along with all my fears and doubts.
What I am about to do I will do for the soldiers in Iraq, they too
are victims. I am also doing it for the families of the dead and
wounded, who have paid a high price for this war. What I am about
to do is something I have to do for the people of Iraq, even for
those who fired upon me; they were just on the other side of a battleground
where war itself was the only enemy.
I cannot think of a better place to surrender than The Peace Abbey,
where all the insecurities that at times seem to crush my will are
humbled, and the real magnitude of my personal sacrifice is put
into perspective. So small is my price compared to the children's,
victims of mines and depleted uranium, their families, the thousands
of unknown civilians killed in war, the soldiers themselves. So
small is my price compared to the price Humanity has paid for war.
PRAYER FROM IRAQ
Dear Lord, Thank you for allowing me to live one more day.
Forgive me for all my sins, for all the things I should have said
and done but did not.
I ask of you to soften the hearts of our leaders and soften the
hearts of those who attack us.
Let there be no more war, and put an end to all violence.
Protect my comrades, and protect all those who are affected by
Give comfort to the dead and wounded. Give them the wisdom to accept
your decision. Put peace in their hearts.
Should you decide to take me from this world I will accept your
Give strength to my family, and protect my little girl.
Let there be peace in all the world. Thank you Lord.
This is an email received at the offices of The Peace Abbey that
we wanted to share with you.
"I am not often provoked to write to strangers out of the
blue, but I wanted to find Camilo Mejia and tell him this: You are
my new hero!!!
I read about him today, and I am in awe and utter respect. Truly,
this is a brave and wonderful thing he has done.
It is good to know, in times when I feel quite alone in my views,
that someone out there is willing to speak up and stand for what
they believe, despite immense consequences and disapproval.
Please pass on to him, if you can, that he has me and my husband's
utter respect and support, and thank him for standing so strongly
behind his convictions. I am certain there are many more who feel
the same way I do."