Joe Glenton, a British soldier who is refusing to return to fight in Afghanistan, received the backing of his fellow troops after he led more than 10,000 protesters on last Saturday’s Stop the War demonstration in London.
Joe hit the news last week after it was revealed that he was refusing to follow military orders not to attend the march.
Him coming could add to the case that the army is bringing against him for speaking out about the horror and illegality of the war.
But Joe told Socialist Worker, “It felt empowering to be on the demonstration. I was surrounded by like-minded people—from the military and ordinary walks of life.”
Joe is still stationed in barracks, and he lives with other soldiers during the week.
“I was slightly worried on Sunday night about going back in, but I thought I’ll just see what they thought.
“The response was fantastic. Soldiers shook my hand and patted me on the back.
“One guy said, ‘You’re saying what everyone else is thinking.’
“I think there has always been support for people speaking out, and it has raised a debate inside the army.”
Discontent over the intensifying war in Afghanistan has spread in the army over recent months—and it has had a deep effect in the ranks.
Joe said, “I feel like I’m strutting round, not tip-toeing, after hearing what the guys think.
“Talking to soldiers in other units, you get the impression that people are questioning why we’re in Afghanistan.”
In September, in addition to the original charge of desertion and intent to avoid active duty, the army wanted to charge Joe with bringing the army into disrepute by speaking out.
Joe and his legal team fought for this charge to be dropped—and they won.
Joe said, “I feel like we are in the ascendancy now. We’ve taken the initiative.
“We’ll have to see what happens in the coming weeks—if they bring more trumped up charges we’ll take them on.”
Joe is continuing to speak out and encourages others to do the same. “We have to start talking and demanding the details,” he said.
“Write to your MP for answers, get out on the streets, demonstrate and debate. Whatever people can do to stop this war, they should do it.”
Support Joe in his fight for justice. Email messages of support to
Download a petition against the army’s attempts to court martial him at » www.stopwar.org.uk