Joe Glenton: sentenced for refusing war crimes

On 5 March, Lance Corporal Joe Glenton was sentenced at a court martial in Colchester to nine months in military prison and demoted to the rank of private.

He had refused to return to fight in Afghanistan (where he served for seven months in 2006) by going absent. He subsequently returned to the UK and became the first ever serving soldier in Britain to take an active and open part in the anti-war movement against a war that was still being waged. The army had dropped the charge of desertion, and he was sentenced for going absent without leave, to which he pleaded guilty.

Desertion carried a maximum 10-year sentence, and his legal team believe this was dropped to avoid a trial in which Joe would have proclaimed his innocence and contested the charge on grounds that the Afghan war is illegal under international law.

When Lance Corporal Glenton initially tried to raise his concerns about the war with his sergeant, he was called a coward and faced bullying and intimidation. And now, passing sentence, Judge Advocate Emma Peters said his absence meant his unit would be undermanned or another soldier would be drafted. She said, “many soldiers in the army … have extremely unpleasant experiences … but they have to return and do their duty”.

After Nazi fascism was defeated in 1945, the victorious powers made it clear at the Nuremburg trials that ‘only obeying orders’ or ‘somebody else would have done it’ were not acceptable reasons for being complicit in war crimes. They cannot change their minds now!

The whole point is that Joe Glenton is not a coward or a malingerer. The “unpleasant experiences” that caused his decision were not the usual horrors of war, but finding himself fighting in a war he realised was illegal, not to mention immoral.

It is a war that is not in the interests of the Afghan people or ordinary British people. The only interests it serves are those of the monopoly capitalists, who want to bleed us and the rest of the world dry.

We pay tribute to Joe Glenton’s brave stand in refusing to be a party to war crimes in the cause of imperialist aggression. In doing so, he has set an example to all those British workers and soldiers who are connected with the illegal war effort, whether it be making and moving arms or supplies, fighting, or writing and broadcasting the propaganda.

Let us all follow Joe’s example – the imperialists cannot fight their war without us!

No cooperation with British war crimes!

Free Joe Glenton; jail the war criminals!

Messages of support may be sent to Joe at:

Joe Glenton

Military Corrective Training Centre

Berechurch Hall Camp




> Free Joe Glenton – Jail the warmongers – December 2009