USA: Army Specialist Suzanne Swift might face desertion charges
US Army Specialist Suzanne Swift was arrested by police on Sunday, 10 June. Suzanne Nicole Swift (US14796), 21, refused to deploy with her Army unit to Iraq for a second tour. After Swift became part of the military police, her company was deployed to Iraq in February 2004. She was stationed in Karbala, about 60 miles southwest of Baghdad. She came home to Fort Lewis in February 2005, believing she had the standard 18 months decompression time before she would be redeployed.
Then Swift was asked to sign a waiver agreeing to return to Iraq early, in January, 11 months after returning to the United States. It was the last thing Swift wanted to do, her mother Rich said. Having seen the war first-hand, she had profound doubts about it, and had told her mother she thought the war lacked purpose and that no one had benefited from the U.S. presence in Iraq.
While she was in Iraq, she wrote to Rich about being repeatedly sexually harassed by Army staff and was always anxious about being assaulted, Rich said. She didn't complain because she thought it would make things worse, Rich said.
Days before the redeployment in January, Swift was packed and ready to go, but then broke down, car keys in hand, Rich said.
"She turned to me in the kitchen and said, `I can't go back there.' I said, `Good, don't do it,' " Rich said.
So Swift stayed behind when the 54th Military Police Company returned to Iraq. First she stayed with a friend in Brookings on the Southern Oregon Coast, but in May, she came back to Eugene and moved in with her mother.
Rich arranged for her to speak with an attorney and begin seeing a psychologist for help with post traumatic stress disorder. She said she would rather see her daughter imprisoned for desertion than returned to Iraq.
Fort Lewis Army spokesman Joe Hitt confirmed that Swift would be returned to Fort Lewis, but declined to discuss her situation further. He said that her company commander will determine appropriate punishment and that no decision had been made in her case.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the US authorities, or US embassies abroad. A protest email to US President George W. Bush can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20060615a.html.
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Suzanne Swift and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International
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