Poets and Activists to Stand For Lt. Erhen Watada on Nov. 9 in SF

San Francisco poets led by San Francisco Poet Laureate, Jack Hirshman will on Friday, November 9, stand up for Lt. Erhen Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq War.

Mr. Hirshman — with poets Janice Mirikitani, past San Francisco Poet Laureate and Peter Yamamoto — will join Asian American community activists and other Watada supporters across the nation in support of Watada’s courageous action.

“My fellow soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq and their families are suffering because of the lies and deceptions crafted by the Bush Administration.  The Iraq war is not only a crime against domestic and international law but [it] is a terrible moral injustice against the Iraqi people,” said Watada.Watada faces court martial and up to six years imprisonment for refusing to deploy and for speaking out against a war that he believes is illegal. His first trial in February ended in a mistrial and he has been assigned to desk duty in Ft. Lewis, Wash., while awaiting his second court martial.

U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle temporarily halted Watada’s October 9 court martial. The judge extended a stay of the court martial proceedings until Nov. 9 to give him more time to review the legal records and to decide whether the Army would be violating Watada’s constitutional rights by trying him twice for the same crime

Watada supporters have now put forth demands to stop the Army from putting Watada on trial again, to drop all charges against Watada and to release Watada from the Army and grant him an honorable discharge.

The Asian-Pacific Islanders Resist/Watada Support Committee will present a public press conference on the latest developments for Watada.

Speakers include Jack Hirschman, San Francisco Poet Laureate,  Reverend Norman Fong, Chinatown Community Activitist, Janice Mirikitani, past San Francisco Poet Laureate, Peter Yamamoto, Poet, Community Activist, Jeff Paterson,  first GI to resist the Gulf War  now with Courage to Resist, and Angela Chu, Translator. The press conference begins at 10:00 a.m. at Portsmouth Square, Clay and Kearny Streets in San Francisco.

For more information, visit thankyoult.org, or call Betty Kano with questions at 510-527-1401.

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