Conscientious objectors Travis Bishop and Victor Agosto
Use this form to send the letter below to the relevant authority (President Barack Obama). You can add your own notes in a separate box after the standard text, if you wish. You must include a name, address, and email address; a copy will be sent to you with a cc to the WRI office (so we have a record of how many email letters have been sent out for this particular case).
Dear President Barack Obama,
I am very concerned about the sentencing of conscientious objectors Travis Bishop, who was sentenced on 14 August 2009 to 12 months, and Victor Agosto, who was sentenced on 5 August 2009 to 30 days.
Travis Bishop has served in the US army since 2004. He was deployed to Iraq from August 2006 to October 2007. According to his lawyer, he had doubts about taking part in military action since then, but it was only in February 2009, when his unit was ordered to deploy to Afghanistan, that he considered refusing to go.
Victor Agosto, was a victim of the highly unpopular stop/loss policy. SPC Agosto, whose contract was over at the end of June, was told that his next assignment would be deployment to Afghanistan. At the end of April, with support of local residents, Agosto went public with his intent to refuse the orders to Afghanistan, on the basis of the occupation being “immoral and unjust.”
Both refused to deploy to Afghanistan for reasons of conscience, and therefore are to be considered as conscientious objectors.
The United States recognises the human right to conscientious objection in principle, but in practice many conscientious objectors are denied to exercise their right, and are sentenced by military courts instead - just as has happened to Travis Bishop. This in practice is a violation of their human right to conscientious objection.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee recognised in a decision from January 2007 the right to conscientious objection as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, as guaranteed by Article 18 ICCPR. In fact, in this decision on two cases of conscientious objectors from South Korea, the Human Rights Committee stated that not to provide for the right to conscientious objection is a violation of Article 18 ICCPR (see CCPR/C/88/D/1321-1322/2004 from 23 January 2007).
I therefore urge you to immediately release Travis Bishop, Victor Agosto, and all imprisoned conscientious objectors. I urge you to respect human rights.