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The Saker
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YOUTUBE&REPORT -Solidarity with Afghanistan War Refusenik Michael Lyons - Colchester Military Prison

category international | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Thursday August 11, 2011 16:57author by Solidarity Report this post to the editors

YOUTUBE Speaking Outside Colchester Military Prison - Ciaron O'Reilly from Giuseppe Conlon House/ Catholic Worker, Naomi from "UK Friends of Bradley Manning", Katrina recites a poem, Ben Griffin Afghanistan/Iraq combt veteran "Veterans for Peace", Jill Harris Michael Lyon's mother, Fr. Martin Newell Giuseppe Conlon House , Giorgio Riva Payday


1) Solidarity letters/postcards can be sent to Michael Lyons imprisoned military resister/ Afghan War Refusenik You can write to Michael Lyons at this address: 236 Michael Lyons, D Company, MCTC, Berechurch Hall Rd, Colchester CO2 9MU. England

2) Michael Lyon's is presently being held in Colchester Military Prison. It is a 700 mile round trip for his wife Lilian to visit him. If you would like to make a donation to alleviate travel expenses for her, make a cheque out to "London Catholic Worker", write "Lyons" on the back of the cheque and send it to "Michael Lyons Support" c/- Giuseppe Conlon House, 49 Mattison Rd. Harringey, London N4 1BG

3) Sat Sept 3rd - Solidarity with Michael Lyons Vigil outside Colchester Military Prison When? Sat Sept. 3rd. 3pm-5pm Where? Outside the Military Corrective Training Centre, Berechurch Hall Rd. Colchester CO2 9MU (Vigil will be at the junction with Stoneacre Road at the entrance to the military detention facility). More Info? Call Ciaron 079 392 90576

REPORT BY BEN GRIFFIN "Veterans for Peace" Sat



On Saturday 6th of August I visited Michael Lyons in Colchester Military Prison. He is currently serving a seven month sentence for refusing to carry out weapons training in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan. Michael had already applied for conscientious objector status. With me were Martin Newell from London Catholic Worker, Stephan Gillies a local activist and Jill, Michael's mum.

The visit lasted two hours and Michael was found to be in good spirits. He is being held with soldiers being discharged from the Army so that he can't "infect the others that are staying in the Army".

His main concern is the well-being of his wife Lillian is based in Plymouth. Michael is not being paid by the Navy whilst he is serving his sentence so his wife is struggling to meet the bills whilst working in a low paid job. She is also finding it difficult to make the long journey from Plymouth to Colchester to see Michael. (See details how to support Michael and Lilian above)

Michael is keen to become involved with the Peace Movement in the future. He has shown other servicemen with objections to the war in Afghanistan that they presently have a choice. Six months in Afghanistan taking part in the further destruction of that country or six months in prison with a clear conscience. As a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I know which option I would take.

Michael has a great sense of humour and is spending a lot of his time in prison in the library. When not in the library there is a lot of pointless ironing and cleaning to be carried out prior to inspections. This is just the sort of training that will be useful in civvie street to Michael and the others being discharged after their sentences!


Whilst inside a vigil was held outside the main gate to celebrate Michael's action and to encourage further resistance from inside the military. 27 people from London, Colchester and the surrounding area were present.

A shrine was erected by members of London Catholic Worker.

Giorgio from the organisation Payday spoke about the need for solidarity and inclusiveness in the peace movement in order to support refuseniks internationally.

Naomi from UK Friends of Bradley Manning updated us on the persecution of Bradley.

Gwyn for the organisation At Ease spoke about the details of Michael's case and the work that she does in supporting soldiers who have a crises of conscience.

Ciaron O'Reilly of London Catholic Worker told of his own experiences of being in prison as a result of his peace activism. He also told us how valuable solidarity from the outside was in keeping him going whilst in prison.

Michael's mother Jill thanked everyone for supporting her son and told us how proud she was of him.

The local Stop the War convener told us about an upcoming march in London and about meetings they were holding

Martin and myself gave a report about our visit and encouraged others to write to Michael and visit him.

The visit and the vigil outside went very well. On the way back to London I phoned Michael's wife Lillian to let her know how Michael was doing. We are planning to go back at the start of September, more details to follow.

HOW YOU CAN HELP? 1) Solidarity letters/postcards can be sent to Michael Lyons imprisoned military resister/ Afghan War Refusenik You can write to Michael Lyons at this address: 236 Lyons, D Company, MCTC, Berechurch Hall Rd, Colchester CO2 9MU. England

2) Michael Lyon's is presently being held in Colchester Military Prison. It is a 700 mile round trip for his wife Lilian to visit him. If you would like to make a donation to alleviate travel expenses make a cheque out to "London Catholic Worker", write "Lyons" on the back of the cheque and send it to "Michael Lyons Support" c/- Giuseppe Conlon House, 49 Mattison Rd. Harringey, London N4 1BG

3) Sat Sept 3rd - Solidarity with Michael Lyons Vigil outside Colchester Military Prison When? Sat Sept. 3rd. 3pm-5pm Where? Outside the Military Corrective Training Centre, Berechurch Hall Rd. Colchester CO2 9MU (Vigil will be at the junction with Stoneacre Road at the entrance to the militarydetention facility). More Info? Call Ciaron 079 392 90576

Solidarity Homepage:

author by Widowpublication date Mon Aug 15, 2011 15:37Report this post to the editors

JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. - A soldier's widow says his fellow Army Rangers wouldn't do anything to help him before he took his own life - after eight deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army found Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann's body at a training area of Joint Base Lewis McChord a few weeks ago.

A spokesman for the base tells KOMO News that the nature of the death is still undetermined.

But Staff Sgt. Hagemann's widow says her husband took his own life - and it didn't need to happen."It was just horrible. And he would just cry," says Ashley Hagemann. Ashley says her husband Jared tried to come to grips with what he'd seen and done on his eight deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan."And there's no way that any God would forgive him - that he was going to hell," says Ashley. "He couldn't live with that any more."Ashley says her Army Ranger husband wanted out of the military."He just wanted to know what it felt like to be normal again," she says.


author by Veteranpublication date Mon Aug 15, 2011 15:57Report this post to the editors

I can presume that he wasn't "Press-Ganged" into the Navy and that he enlisted of his own free will. You wan't support for someone who won't do his job - what did he think he was signing up for in the first place. When he signed on the dotted line he made himself subject to military law and he broke it - end of story!

author by Rational Ecologist.publication date Mon Aug 15, 2011 17:19Report this post to the editors

Hi Veteran. Does joining the Army mean you lose your humanity and empathy with others' suffering. Might I suggest it does. I think this man deserves all the support he can. Have we not seen enough brutalisation of men(predominantly) in the army. I shall for the purpose of this point emphasise the dehumanising, brutalising necessary to turn a human into an efficient killing machine.

Look at the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress disorder in army veterans, both latent and recognised.

Life is not black and white and a lot of decent humans join armies but find themselves in a position of doing things they otherwise would not do. Loyalty to Queen and country, loyalty to the unit. Good impulses, loyalty that is, perverted in the service of the powerful.

They say that truth is the first victim of war, I think it is compassion/humanity/empathy.

The perfect soldier is man as robot.

author by Solidarity Updatepublication date Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:57Report this post to the editors

Solidarity with Michael & Lillian Lyons in their Resistance to the War on Afghanistan

British Navy Medic Michael Lyons is serving 7 months detention at Colchester Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) after he applied for conscientious objector status (which was later refused) and subsequent to this application refused to take part in rifle training. Michael Lyons stated at his court martial that he had been influenced by information on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq disclosed by WikiLeaks, material which Bradley Manning is accused of leaking:
Photo/ More info this link ............

1) Financial support for Michael and Lillian Lyons
2) Write support to Michael Lyons in Coclester military prison.
3) A Message from Lillian Lyons

1) Thanks to generosity of 3 donors, we were able to forward 80 quid on to Michael and Lillian Lyons. If you wish to make a donation to defray costs associated with Michael's incarceration (eg. It is a 700 mile round trip for Michael’s wife Lillian to visit him in Colchester) you can make a cheque out to “London Catholic Worker”, write “Lyons” on the back of the cheque and send it to “Michael Lyons Support” c/o Giuseppe Conlon House, 49 Mattison Rd, Harringay, London N4 1BG.

2). Solidarity letters/postcards can be sent directly to Michael Lyons at this address: 236 Michael Lyons, D Company, MCTC, Berechurch Hall Rd, Colchester CO2 9MU (England).

3) A Message From Lillian Lyons........
A Message From Lillian Lyons

It is important for both Michael and I to let you know how much we appreciate your support whilst my husband is locked up in Military prison. Every message, letter and show of face means the world to us and is really helping us to get through this crazy time in our lives.

I am sure most of you know why Michael has been punished by the Royal Navy so I won’t waste your time regurgitating the details of his case, the intimidating Court Martials or the legality of his defence.Instead I will tell you a bit about how Michael’s conscience led him to a incredibly unjust sentence.

Mike has served as a Medic in the Submarine Service for nearly 7 years. It sounds cliche but he really did join up because he thought he could help people. In fact he saw an advert on TV of a Navy Medic jumping out of a helicopter giving humanitarian aid in an unnamed war zone. The medic wasn’t carrying any weapons just a box with a big red cross on it. He was sold.

He had just turned 18, he had no knowledge of current affairs, the legality of the war or any war for that matter. I guess you could say he was naive and he’d probably agree but who isn’t at that age?

Mike was never going to stay in the Military, and as he grew up and matured this was certain. Slowly he developed a keen interest in the issues facing the countries involved in these invasions and i guess you could say this snowballed, the deeper he dug, the more he read the more detached he became from his job, his employers and his colleagues.

In 2009 he started to ask his superiors about notice periods and was told February 2011 would be the earliest time he could give a years notice to leave the Navy. I think this was somewhat prompted by his initial learnings of the political reasons behind the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In march 2010 he was given an order to deploy to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan leaving the 30th March 2011. His initial reaction was shock as he had made it quite clear to his superiors that he was planning to give notice to leave. They also knew Mike’s opinion on the Afghan War but despite this he still felt he had a sense of duty and so we started to plan for his deployment.

In the next couple of months he discovered Wikileaks, he read and read about the 76,000 military documents that had been leaked on the internet and published in analysed form in various newspapers. These documents detailed the military’s under-reporting of civilian casualties caused by Nato troops, both in the air and on the ground.

Examples included the convoy of US marines driving down a six-mile stretch of highway firing at everyone they saw, 19 unarmed civilians were killed and a further 50 wounded. Closer to home there were the allegations that Royal Marines had shot innocent drivers and motorcyclists on eight separate occasions over a six-month period, and that Ghurkhas had called in an air strike on a family compound, leaving seven innocents dead. These were just some of the reports.

Within days Mike had to attend a 2 week advanced medic course to prepare him for deployment to Afghanistan so he didn’t have time to gather his thoughts about the leaked documents or analyse how he felt. The only way I can describe Mike’s reaction to this information is sickened.

On the last day of the course he had a heated argument with an Army doctor who was giving scenarios of when a Royal Navy Medic would need to administer aid. One scenario was of a Afghani Child that had been carried to the Military hospital by her family, the child had a birth defect and was in pain. Mike was the first to speak up saying he would treat the child. The army doctor answered quickly ‘the child’s birth defect is untreatable Lyons, how would you approach this?’ Mike answered back even quicker, well if after i have covered all possibilities and still I cannot treat the condition I would at least offer pain relief, support and compassion to her and her family. The doctor wasn’t happy, this would be a waste of resources, you would have to turn them away, she said.

This was the first thing Mike told me when he got home that night. I just cried. We both got very upset and he said I don’t agree with what’s happening, I don’t agree politically and I don’t agree morally, I cannot be part of it, I can’t be in the Military knowing this is what they stand for. I guess I am a Conscientious Objector. These were his exact words, they are ingrained on my memory because this was the moment I have never been more proud in my life.

He told his superior and they asked for it in writing, he did this immediately and the captain accepted the statement and agreed that Mike was a conscientious objector. However as it was passed up the chain of command something went very wrong. A few days later the decision had been overturned by someone, we still don’t know who further up the chain. Mike was furious and advised his chief he would be appealing the decision. He handed his second statement to his chief the next day and detailed the reasons why he was a conscientious objector, the chief promptly handed this back to Mike and said he would not pass it to the appeals court until Mike had toned it down and written in a less emotional way!

Whilst we were waiting for a date for the appeal Mike was due to attend a weapons training course, here he would learn how to use an SA-80. Mike called it a learning to Kill course. Mike’s conscience would not allow him to complete the course and he asked to be put on non-combatant duties whilst his appeal was pending, he explained why he was a conscientious objector in detail. He was returned to unit.

On december 17th 2010 Mike’s appeal was unsuccessful, we were all in shock, he was honest sincere and correct. The judge even had to adjourn the court half way through as Mike got so upset when speaking about the details of the casualties of this war.They gave no reason why they had chosen not to believe Mike and we have yet to receive any. Technically the appeal is still pending because Liam Fox secretary of defence has the final say and Mike has not received any formal decision in writing.

Just after the appeal the Navy chose to charge Mike with wilful disobedience for refusing to complete the learning to kill course.

Since then It has been a very hard journey, we have both lost a lot of friends through this, Mike has received threats and been the subject of bullying from his colleagues, getting into arguments on a daily basis about the legality of war and reporting back to me every night about how astonished he is by the level of racism within the navy.

His chief called him a cancer worried that he would spread his message of love and peace among the ranks!Michael has however been very discreet about his views and has never tried to push them on to anyone else, he has simply defended the afghani people when they often became the subject of race hate within the office where Mike worked.

Despite the difficulties Mike has faced he is completely at peace with all of his decisions. He says that he has a clear conscience and if he had done anything differently he wouldn’t be able to live with himself so he is happy and proud of what he has made a stand against.

I am so proud of my husband, he is the most compassionate, kind, loving and moral man I have ever known. I agree with everything he has done and I am appalled by the way the Navy have treated him.

One thing sticks in my mind about this last year and it’s really personal but I want to share it with you because it shows how strong Mike’s convictions are. He said to me just before the sentencing that if he hadn’t had stood up for what he believes in, or if he had gone to war or stayed in the Military he wouldn’t have been able to start a family with me. He said I would never want my children looking up to me if i had been part of this destruction, this death and greed And I couldn’t be the husband that you deserve either.

One day Michael and I will start a family and our children can be proud of their father. Michael is locked up unjustly for having a conscience but i feel like the luckiest woman in the world simply because that man is my husband.

Lillian Lyons

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