An RAF doctor who refused to serve in Iraq because he believes the war is illegal was sentenced to eight months in jail and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs last week.
Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith was found guilty of five charges of disobeying orders after he refused to go to Basra last June.
George Solomou, from Military Families Against War and a Respect candidate in the Queensbridge ward of Hackney, east London, spoke to Socialist Worker about the case.
George said, “There is no doubt that Malcolm Kendall-Smith spoke the truth. He spoke it in detriment to himself.
“If he had followed the conscientious objection process which I went through he would have been kicked out of the army before his case was heard in court.
“This is a secret process and 99 percent of soldiers don’t know it exists.
“Instead Kendall-Smith chose to stand by his principles. He knew he could not win his case just by saying the war is illegal.
“I went along with the rules while he chose to go to prison on a higher principle. He deserves public acclaim for this.
“Every soldier has the international law, as well as the national law, to follow. This says you should not participate in any war crime – which is what is happening in Iraq. It takes a lot of courage to say this in the army.
“This case shows the need for soldiers to be entitled to the right to have a trade union. At the moment there is no way of taking your grievances to anyone but the people you have grievances against – the higher ranking officers.
“The charges against Malcolm Kendall-Smith are a change of tack from the army. They have tried to brush myself and others under the carpet and reduce any publicity.
“But a decision has been made at the top to make this person a scapegoat and scare everyone else. The government is pushing legislation which threatens to imprison those who refuse to serve in the occupation of another country.
“It is preparing for large scale dissent in the army which will come with any attack on Iran. It wants to quell any individuals who will be upset with an attack on Iran.
“But the army has created a good spokesman against the war. I hope Kendall-Smith will write the truth and campaign with us.
“Military Families against the War’s next action is at parliament next Wednesday 26 April when we will lobby our MPs against war.”
For more information go to www.mfaw.org,uk