Courage to Resist—brief timeline of action

February 2003—Founding members of the future Courage to Resist (CTR) project organized the political and legal support of Marine L/Cpl Stephen Funk—the first military serviceperson to publicly refuse to fight in Iraq. Following a community gathering and press conference in San Jose, California, supporters travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana to organize local support and attend the court martial. L/Cpl Funk was sentenced to six months in the stockade.

November 2004—Community members and veterans begin holding ad-hoc meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area in order to find better ways of supporting military war objectors. During this period, high profile war resisters Army Staff Sergeants Camilo Mejia and Kevin Benderman, and Navy Petty Officer Pablo Paredes, all publicly took individual stands against the Iraq War and refused to fight. A few months later, this group of individuals settled on the Courage to Resist name.

May 2005—CTR was launched with “A National Day of Action to Support G.I. War Resisters” with actions in many cities around the country, including an event in San Francisco, California which was featured in The New York Times. CTR also staged the first of two counter-recruitment events outside of the Oakland, California military recruiting station featuring performances by local youth. The military has since shutdown this recruitment center. CTR members helped organize public support rallies outside of PO Paredes’ court martial in San Diego, California.

June 2006—Met with Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, and later took the lead in establishing “The Friends and Family of Lt. Ehren Watada” working group in the weeks prior to Lt. Watada’s public refusal to deploy to Iraq on constitutional grounds.

October 2006—Helped organize a large press conference in Los Angeles, California for Army medic Agustin Aguayo. Following his unsuccessful two-year bid to win a conscientious objector discharge from the Army, Specialist Aguayo refused to return to Iraq for a second tour. Spc. Aguayo, upon his release from eight months in the stockade, became a CTR organizer.

December 2006—Organized the “International Days of Action to Support G.I. Rights and G.I. Resistance” led by resister family members, including a San Francisco, California event with Maxine Hong Kingston that ended with a march to City Hall.

January 2007—Worked to support Army Specialist Suzanne Swift who refused to return to Iraq after having been the victim of command rape. Spc. Swift’s mother, Sara Rich, is now a CTR organizer. Also helped organize the “Citizens’ Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq: The Case of Lt. Ehren Watada” in Tacoma, Washington featuring Daniel Ellsberg, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday, Professor Richard Falk, and Army Colonel Ann Wright (ret.)

February 2007—Played a leading role in organizing a rally of over 1,000 persons near the gates of Fort Lewis, Washington in support of Lt. Ehren Watada during his court martial. This public outpouring of support was a key factor in the military choosing to halt the trial by declaring a mistrial. Lt. Watada continues to serve in the Army while fighting for an honorable discharge.

March 2007—Sent a staff member to Germany in order to support Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo and his family during Spc. Aguayo’s court martial at the U.S. military base at Manheim, Germany. He was sentenced to eight months in the stockade, but had been held in pre-trial confinement for six months prior to his court martial. CTR toured Germany speaking with local peace organizers.

May 2007—Organized a California speaking tour with Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo immediately following his release from a U.S. military prison in Germany. Tour events focused on Spanish-speaking communities of color, including Watsonville, Sacramento, and Stockton.

June 2007—Organized a workshop at the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta, Georgia bring together the broadest gathering of GI resistance and GI resistance solidarity related groups and activists since the Vietnam War.

July 2007—Organized a Pacific Northwest speaking tour with Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo.

August 2007—Organized a workshop at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri with Army Spc. Mark Wilkerson immediately following his release from seven months in the stockade for refusing to return to Iraq.

November 2007—Launched “Voices of G.I. Resistance” audio project to chronicle the stories of courageous resisters. Twenty audio interviews were produced during the following year.

December 2007—Staff members traveled to Ottawa, Canada to attend the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of the House of Commons, and to meet with U.S. war resisters and their Canadian supporters. The committee adopted a motion that was a critical victory for U.S. Iraq War resisters seeking sanctuary.

January 2008—Led allies to stage events at eight Canadian Consulates across the U.S. in support of U.S. war resisters seeking refuge in Canada. Thousands of “Dear Canada: Let them stay” letters and petitions were delivered to Consulate officials.

March 2008—Dedicated five weeks of staff time to the organizing and production of “Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan” staged by Iraq Veterans Against the War near Washington, DC in order to expose the untold stories of these brutal occupations.

May 2008—Took up the political and legal defense of Iraq War resister Army Specialist. Ryan Jackson. Following an unsuccessful attempt at a conscientious objector discharge, Spc. Jackson was sentenced to 100 days in the stockade.

June 2008—After CTR sent over 10,000 letters to Canadian officials in support of U.S. war resisters seeking sanctuary, the Canadian Parliament made an historic vote in favor of allowing war resisters to remain in Canada. The Conservative government immediately pledged to ignore the vote.

July 2008—Staged events at 14 Canadian Consulates across the U.S. in support of U.S. war resisters seeking refuge in Canada. War resisters Corey Glass and Joshua Key were granted last minute reprieves from deportation. Also, CTR activist active-duty Airman Michael Thurman won a conscientious objector discharge from the Air Force.

August 2008—Army Spc. Robin Long became the first U.S. war resister to be deported from Canada. CTR took up his political and civilian legal defense. Following a court martial where Spc. Long faced three years in the stockade for desertion, he was sentenced to 15 months. He is expected to be released approximately June 2009 from the Miramar Naval Brig.

September 2008—Organized a workshop at the Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War National Conventions in St. Paul, Minnesota featuring active duty Army Sgt. Selena Coppa, conscientious objector Spc. Benjamin “Hart” Viges, and Sgt. Matthis Chiroux—currently publicly refusing recall from the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) for Iraq deployment. Also, CTR helped stage protests outside of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Timeline updated September 22, 2008

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