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Resisters' Boycott Is Great Success
When asked why the Ford clemency program is not working, Charles Goodell, chairmen of the Presidential Clemency Board stated, "I don't understand it. Those who are eligible under our program have nothing to lose by applying." Those who are eligible, in fact, have everything to gain by not entering the sham program. The Ford clemency is designed as a punitive measure against those who correctly resisted the imperialist war in Indochina and the racist and repressive conditions of the military. As war resisters have committed no crime, they have no reason to submit to this clemency program. Recognizing this, the exile community, along with many organizations in the US, has called for a boycott of the plan as part of the overall struggle for universal and unconditional amnesty.
And the boycott is working! The government's own figures make this point most clearly. The Selective Service System states that there are 6,000 draft resisters under indictment. Only 123 have entered the program. The Defense Department says that there are now 12,500 military resisters. Only 1,450 have applied. Most of these people that have entered the program have done so by surfacing from living 'underground' in the US. The number of draft and military resisters that have come from exile aboard number fewer than 150.
The single largest group of people in need of universal and unconditional amnesty are the veterans with less-than-honorable discharges. There are 588,321 such discharges. The government states that of these only 40,000 are eligible for the clemency plan; those vets that received bad discharges due to being charged with AWOL over 30 days. The second largest category of war resisters are those in the US that are civilians who resisted the war and were convicted of crimes against the state. Of these two largest categories, veterans and civilians who have done time in jails, stockades and/or received bad discharges for being AWOL, only 800 have applied.
The government is desperately trying to sell the Ford plan. They are resorting to all sorts of figure games and deceitful tactics. For instance, because of the small number of returnees, they are trying to mislead people by giving out a lower number of those eligible. On August 19th, when Ford announced at the VFW convention in Chicago that he was planning to give clemency to war resisters, he stated that there were 50,000 deserters and draft resisters. Today, the government claims that there are 18,000 who fit into these categories. The discrepancy in three months time is 30,000 resisters! What happened to them??? Commander-in-Chief Ford should be stripped of his command for losing the equivalent of two full divisions of soldiers.
In another deceitful tactic, James Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense, is sending letters to families of resisters urging them to urge the resisters to accept the Ford program. The letter tells the families that the resisters won't have to wear uniforms, get haircuts, or "otherwise subject themselves to normal military routine." Such benevolence from the government!
The most truthful utterance from the government about the clemency has been offered by Attorney General Saxbe who stated, "Many draft evaders are highly suspicious of the Justice Department's motives."
The real reason for the failure of the clemency is because resisters know that their actions were correct in fighting against the imperialist war in Indochina and the racist and repressive military. The Ford plan would try to force resisters into falsely admitting that they have committed a crime, when the real criminals are the big businesses, the government officials and their enforcer arm, the military, who waged the war in Indochina for their own profit.
The boycott is working -- and all resisters should continue to fight for universal and unconditional amnesty!
CONTINUE THE BOYCOTT!!