Tuesday, June 17, 2008

PRESS RELEASE: Redwood ACLU Endorses Youth Protection Act

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

For Immediate Release

Redwood ACLU Endorses Youth Protection Act

At the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Directors of the Redwood Chapter, American Civil Liberties Union, local civil rights leaders formally endorsed ballot measures in Arcata and Eureka which would prohibit the recruitment of minors into any branch of the armed forces within these respective cities.

“If people under the age of 18 are not allowed to vote, then why should they be subjected to scientifically-refined propaganda designed to lure them into the armed forces?” said Redwood ACLU chair Christina Allbright. “The military has no business targeting children as young as 11 with their invasive recruiting practices. These tactics clearly violate internationally accepted norms of behavior, and local voters should assert the value of human rights by adopting these measures.”

The Arcata measure is set to come before the City Council in Arcata tomorrow night, where officials have the choice of adopting the act outright, or sending it to the voters in November. The Eureka measure is still in circulation and signatures are likely to be submitted within the next week. ACLU organizers discounted the claim that these measures would inhibit the ability of military recruiters to engage in lawful conduct.

“A person should be an adult before he can volunteer to kill or be killed in an imperialist war,” said Redwood ACLU treasurer Peter Martin. “We should protect children from manipulation by military recruiters, since, if a person agrees to enlist, he or she gives up many constitutional rights that civilians enjoy.”

The ACLU of Northern California recently published a report produced in part by 23 high school students from across the state who investigated the myths of military recruitment and military service as part of the Howard A. Friedman Education Project. “The Truth Behind The Camouflage” is available for review and download at the Affiliate website, aclunc.org, and is also linked to by the Redwood Chapter’s website, redwoodaclu.blogspot.com.

“Studies have shown how military recruiters disproportionately target poor children and children of color with their exaggerated promises of educational and financial assistance which often fail to materialize,” said Redwood ACLU boardmember Maria Hershey. “Incidents of coercion, deception and even sexual abuse by recruiters have been documented, and if career politicians in Sacramento and Washington are too beholden to the military-industrial complex to take action on behalf of common decency and the rule of law, then our local communities will do so.”

The National ACLU has also produced a more recent report for submission to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Soldiers Of Misfortune.” This report chronicles US violations of an international protocol forbidding the use of child soldiers as well as the abuse of foreign child soldiers captured overseas, including the imprisonment of a 15-year-old boy in the Guantanamo Bay military prison where the ACLU claims he may have been subjected to torture.

For more information, call the new ACLU Hotline at 707-442-4419.

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