Veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan to Testify About Torture, Abuse
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It's about time they were heard and respected for it:
This year, from March 13 to 16, about 300 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, gathering for a second Winter Soldier conference, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) it will make up the largest gathering ever of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Their mission? To tell the story of the war in the terms of those who have actually lived it.
"This is a moment when veterans won't let anyone else speak for us," said Aaron Hughes, an Iraq veteran who initiated the new Winter Soldier effort. "We hear from the pundits, we hear from the politicians, we hear from the generals, but we don't hear from the soldiers who've walked the streets, who've been there and know what it's about. We're the ones who can bring out the cruelties and dehumanization in US foreign policy."
How much column space will the corporate media give to this? You can stop laughing now.
Panels and testimony will be grouped into 12 categories, including killing and wounding noncombatants, mishandling of dead, torture and abuse, sexual assault, discrimination in the military, destruction of civilian property, veterans' benefits issues and GI resistance.
Some testimonies will address acts of large-scale violence and human rights violations, while others will zero in on incidents that are often overlooked, such as racism toward Iraqis, sexual harassment of civilians and the military's waste and destruction of environmental resources.
O'Brien hopes that, through the medium of veterans' firsthand accounts, the public will gain new insight into the concrete abuses perpetuated by what may seem to be abstract foreign policy decisions.
Can't get much blunter than that, now, can ya?
"When we say, 'this is what we saw, this is what we were ordered to do,' patterns emerge. The patterns show that what the US is doing in Iraq is immoral and in many cases illegal."
More on the flip: