Why Michael Lyons became a Conscientious Objector

Michael Lyons’ wife Lillian has written an article for Veterans for Peace UK about how Michael came to register for conscientious objector status in the British Navy and what happened next.

In her powerful and moving article, Lillian refers to the effect on Michael of reading documents Bradley Manning is accused of leaking:

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.

Read the full article here.

For more information about how you can support Michael Lyons, see this indymedia article.

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