Navy medic may face 10-year sentence for ‘disobedience’: Plight of conscientious objectors highlighted by man who refused rifle training

A Royal Navy medic with ethical objections to the Afghanistan war could face up to 10 years in prison after refusing to undergo rifle training. The Navy will hold a preliminary court-martial hearing against Michael Lyons on Friday.

Campaigners see the court martial as the Navy’s attempt to deter other service personnel opposing military duty on grounds of conscience, religion or freedom of thought.

A Royal Navy medic with ethical objections to the Afghanistan war could face up to 10 years in prison after refusing to undergo rifle training. The Navy will hold a preliminary court-martial hearing against Michael Lyons on Friday.

Campaigners see the court martial as the Navy’s attempt to deter other service personnel opposing military duty on grounds of conscience, religion or freedom of thought.

The 24-year-old had applied for conscientious objector status when he was ordered to take firearms training last September before a tour of Afghanistan. Pending the outcome of his hearing, Lyons attended but asked not to participate. After several hours during which he was threatened with arrest, he was sent back to base. When his case was later dismissed, the Navy told him he would be court-martialled for “wilful disobedience”.

When his application was heard last December, Lyons was the first person to appear before the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors (ACCO) since 1996.… Read more

Armed forces report reveals MPs’ confusion over recruitment of under-18s

The report by the House of Commons Committee on the Armed Forces Bill has rejected proposals to raise the minimum age of recruitment to 18.  But ForcesWatch, an NGO that submitted evidence to the Committee, suggests that the wording of the report reveals a lack of clarity over the law in this area, even among MPs and senior military personnel.

Today’s report by the House of Commons Committee on the Armed Forces Bill has rejected proposals to raise the minimum age of recruitment to 18 (1).  But ForcesWatch, an NGO that submitted evidence to the Committee, suggests that the wording of the report reveals a lack of clarity over the law in this area, even among MPs and senior military personnel (2).

The Committee reported that they have “raised concerns with the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Gen. Sir William Rollo, who clarified the MoD?s position regarding the discharge of unhappy minors”.

But ForcesWatch suggests that William Rollo’s evidence was itself unclear.  He said that there is a “a window at 18, for a further three months, where they [forces personnel] can apply to leave”.  It is unclear which provision this refers to.

In law, a Discharge As Of Right (DAOR) applies to recruits under 18 for only the first six months of service.  After this, those aged under 18 years and three months may ask to leave under the “unhappy minors” provision.  But they have no legal right to leave if their request is refused.… Read more

‘Boy soldiers’ artwork shown outside Parliament

boy soldier art work

A three-dimensional art installation depicting child soldiers is being displayed outside the Houses of Parliament as part of a peace campaign.

A three-dimensional art installation depicting child soldiers is being displayed outside the Houses of Parliament as part of a peace campaign.

The sculpture, by Hertfordshire artist Schoony, shows the boys sprayed with the words Dulce Et Decorum Est – words from Wilfred Owen’s World War I poem.

Schoony is a special effects artist who made prosthetics for the film Rambo.

Schoony said: “Sending children to war is horrific and highlighting this injustice is really important to me.

boy soldier art work“My nephew is aged seven in this art piece; the age of some of our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq as they would have been 10 years ago. It is a future I do not want for my nephew.”… Read more

From hero to zero

Michael Clohessy returned from Iraq with a distinguished war record — and ended up in prison. Our jails are swollen with former soldiers. Why can’t they stay out of trouble?

Michael Clohessy returned from Iraq with a distinguished war record — and ended up in prison. Our jails are swollen with former soldiers. Why can’t they stay out of trouble? … Read more

Cadet forces to be expanded in state schools

Military ‘spirit’ is to be encouraged in classrooms with the expansion of cadet forces in state schools.

Michael Gove, the education secretary, wants to see more after-school uniform parades to instil the “spirit of service” in the next generation.

On Monday he will announce further measures to increase the influence of the armed forces in the classroom.

Schools in England and Wales are already preparing for the ‘Troops to Teachers’ programme that will see former ex-service personnel offered free training courses to take up a second career in teaching.… Read more