Leading Medical Assistant Michael Lyons, 24, of Plymouth, Devon, is on trial accused of wilful disobedience because of an incident in Portsmouth last year when he refused to take part in rifle training on “moral and ethical grounds” before being deployed to Afghanistan, a court martial has heard. He believed the Afghan war was unlawful and asked to be “re-roled on non-combative duties”. Before this incident took place he had lodged an appeal to be discharged as a conscientious objector, but it was still to be heard by the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors (ACCO), the court martial at Portsmouth Naval Base was told.
Whilst I sympathise with a medic who abhors combative duty, the question has to be asked why this man joined the navy – or any armed service for that matter – if he conscientiously objects to war? Does he believe that Afghans conscripted to the Taliban’s ranks get a chance to exercise their conscience over their role in a combative force? What about the 8 year old Afghan who was used as a suicide bomber in June this year? The girl was tricked into carrying a concealed bomb close to a police vehicle, where it was remotely detonated, the Associated Press reports. She was the only fatality in the attack.
It has been recorded many times that insurgent leaders rarely, if ever, volunteer themselves for suicide bombing missions, and their targets are increasingly becoming women and children bystanders. A suicide car bomber attacked a health clinic in eastern Afghanistan as women and children lined up for maternity care and vaccinations on Saturday, killing at least 37 people, the Associated Press reports. If they’re not targeting women and children, insurgent leaders have increasingly been deploying women on their behalf in suicide attacks for years, even as they profess a desire to give women in the region the least amount of rights of just about anywhere on Earth.
It would serve Mr. Lyon’s conscience well to reflect on the luxury that he is proposing for himself – because of “this illegal war” – in relation to those relentlessly crushed by the Taliban, women and small children alike.