Gerry Condon of U.S. Veterans For Peace will be speaking
this Thursday at 8 p.m.
at Solidarity Books, 43 Douglas St, Cork.
Below is some background info about Gerry, who was in the U.S. Army Special Forces when he first started to speak out against militarism, in 1968, during the Vietnam war.
Last Sunday he and his partner, Helen Jaccard, joined the monthly vigil at Shannon airport as part of “an international effort to stop US militarism and restore neutrality to Ireland”.
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Gerry Condon is a longtime U.S. antiwar activist and writer who works closely with active duty GI’s and military veterans. In 1968, while in the U.S. Army Special Forces, Gerry began to speak out against the Vietnam War and to refuse all military orders. The U.S. Army then ordered him to deploy to Vietnam and Gerry refused. Condon was court-martialed and sentenced to ten years in prison and a Dishonorable Discharge. But he escaped from Fort Bragg, North Carolina and from the United States, initially going to Montreal, Quebec and then heading to Europe.
Gerry lived in West Germany for six months in 1969, while traveling all around Europe, finally receiving “humanitarian asylum” in Sweden. In early 1970 he joined the American Deserters Committee (ADC) in Stockholm, and helped to produce their newsletter, The Paper Grenade. He traveled around Europe as a liaison for the Stockholm exiles, meeting with American deserters and draft resisters in Paris and London, as well as with European activists who were assisting GI resisters in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. Gerry represented the American Deserters Committee at the Stockholm International Conference to End the War in Vietnam and at the Paris International Conference on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. He met several times with representatives of the Vietnamese liberation struggle.
In 1972, Gerry moved to Canada, where he worked with the AMEX-Canada (American exile) collective in Toronto, which called for an end to the U.S. war in Southeast Asia and spearheaded a campaign for amnesty for all U.S. war resisters. In 1975, Gerry returned to the United States in a challenge to President Ford’s unconditional pardon of Richard Nixon and his punitive “clemency program” for U.S. war resisters. At the risk of arrest, he embarked on a five month speaking tour that took him to 50 U.S. cities. By this time most Americans were opposed to the Vietnam War and there was widespread support for amnesty for those who had refused to participate in that illegal war. To avoid public embarrassment, the White House ordered that Condon should not be arrested, and his jail sentence was dropped. Gerry has been a peace and solidarity activist ever since.
In 1983-84, Condon organized the first two delegations of U.S. military veterans to revolutionary Nicaragua. He served as director of the Veterans Peace Action Teams, which worked in the war zones of Nicaragua, rebuilding schools and medical clinics that had been destroyed by the U.S.-backed “Contras.” And he was a national coordinator of the Veterans Peace Convoy to Nicaragua in 1987. In the 1990’s, Gerry worked with Pastors For Peace to organize humanitarian aid caravans to Central America and Cuba, challenging U.S. policy throughout Latin America.
In 2004, Gerry returned to Canada to work with another generation of U.S. war resisters, who were seeking asylum in Canada rather than being re-deployed to the U.S. war on the people of Iraq. He worked closely with the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada and he founded Project Safe Haven, a network of former war resisters who are supporting war resisters today.
Gerry is co-chair of the GI Resistance Working Group of Veterans For Peace, a national organization with chapters in over 100 U.S. cities. He works closely with Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Coffee Strong GI Coffeehouse outside of Fort Lewis, Washington, one of the largest Army bases in the United States.
Gerry also serves on the Steering Committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network, www.bradleymanning.org. Bradley Manning, the accused Wikileaks whistle blower, is seen as a primary GI resister of this era.
In a recent article in On Watch, the newsletter of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild, Gerry Condon wrote that it is time to consider building a movement for amnesty for all war resisters, while bringing more legal, political and material resources to support GI resisters.
Gerry Condon will be traveling throughout Europe for several months beginning in September 2011. He hopes to meet with GI resisters, their European supporters, and with peace and justice activists throughout the region. He will be in Europe primarily to learn and to enjoy good times with friends – old and new. But he will also welcome opportunities to participate in public meetings or media interviews.
On September 3-5, Gerry Condon and his partner Helen Jaccard will be in Bonn, Germany to represent Veterans For Peace at the United Nations NGO Conference on building sustainable communities. For the remainder of September, they plan to travel to England, Ireland and Scandinavia. They plan – roughly – to spend October in Germany, November in Italy, December in Greece, January in Turkey, and February traveling back across Europe before returning to the U.S. in early March.
They will be backpacking, traveling by bus, and staying in public campgrounds and hostels. Their plans are quite flexible at this time. They will welcome any hospitality or travel opportunities that might be offered to them.
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Gerry Condon is Co-Chair, GI Resistance Working Group (Veterans For Peace) and Member of Steering Committee of Bradley Manning Support Network. See his article “Building the Campaign to Defend GI Resisters” on this web link:
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