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Winter Soldier: Berkeley - Iraq and Afghanistan
Bay Area Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) launched Berkeley Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan on March 11th. The event, held at the UC Berkeley campus, gave local veterans a chance to share their experiences, discuss the atrocities they have witnessed, and bring home the realities of war to the U.S. public.
The young veterans, addressing a packed room, spoke of the horrors of deployment, the racist, violent culture of the military, and the destructive policies of U.S. war and occupation. They shared their own experiences with: abuse and hazing in the military, dehumanization, GI resistance, religious discrimination, stop loss, and inadequate healthcare when they returned from war.
The event marked the first Winter Soldier hearings held in Berkeley and brought together veterans from Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz.
The Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan hearings are modeled after the 1971 Winter Soldier hearings, where Vietnam veterans testified about war crimes and abuses in the Vietnam War.
Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan, organized by IVAW, was kicked off in Washington, DC in March 2008, when Iraq and Afghanistan veterans testified about crimes they have committed, the violence they have witnessed, and the psychological wounds they have endured. Since then, regional winter soldier hearings have sprung up around the country, and hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans have testified.
Photos by Hal V J Muskat