When Augustin Aguayo joined the military the young man thought it would open doors for him, but soon realized that he had been mistaken.
Recently released from military prison in Germany, Aguayo addressed a gathering Tuesday morning outside City Hall sponsored by the city’s Peace and Justice Commission, Courage to Resist and the Ehren Watata support committee.
The event was to celebrate the city’s first Conscientious Objectors and War Resisters Day, an event to be observed annually every May 15.
While his application for conscientious objector status was being processed, Aguayo was deployed to Iraq as a medic. “I realized how wrong war was,” Aguayo said. There he refused to load his weapon, even when he was standing guard duty.
Aguayo’s conscientious objector application was denied while he was back from Iraq and on base in Germany. Instead of accepting deployment to Iraq a second time Aguayo went AWOL in September of 2006 and consequently spent about six months in prison.
“Some think it’s a cowardice act,” Aguayo said, adding that he had to do what his conscience dictated.
Tonight (Friday) Courage to Resist is sponsoring a talk by Camilo Mejia at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Former Staff Sgt. Mejia spent a year in prison for refusing to return to duty in Iraq after his request for conscientious objector status was denied.
Photograph by Judith Scherr.
Augustin Aguayo at Tuesday’s Conscientious Objectors and War Resisters Day rally.