Road from ar Ramadi
The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía
Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía became a leading voice for the antiwar movement when he applied for discharge from the army as a conscientious objector.
After serving in the Army for nearly nine years, he was the first known Iraq veteran to come public with his refusal to fight, citing moral concerns about the war and occupation. His principled stand helped rally the growing opposition and embolden other soldiers.
Mejía was eventually convicted of desertion by a military court and sentenced to a year in prison, prompting Amnesty International to declare him a prisoner of conscience. Here, Mejía tells his own story, from his upbringing in Central America to his service in Iraq—where he witnessed prisoner abuse—to his struggle today to end the occupation.
In this stirring book, he argues passionately for the end to an unjust war. As New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes, “The issues [Mejía] has raised deserve a close reading by the nation as a whole…. He has made a contribution to the truth about Iraq.”
Watch Mejía’s testimony at Iraq Veterans Against the War’s Winter Soldier: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations.
“This is the extraordinary journey—geographical, intellectual, moral—of a U.S. soldier, from the front lines of Iraq to a military prison. Camilo Mejía, the first Iraq veteran to refuse to return to Iraq, gives us a close look at the day-to-day brutality of the war. We learn what happens when a young man decides to challenge the entire military establishment in order to follow his conscience. It is an inspiring memoir.”
--Howard Zinn, author, A People’s History of the United States
“Camilo’s most revolutionary action was no refusing to return to Iraq, but recognizing the humanity of those he was told were his enemies. As an Iraq veteran myself, I find his story especially relevant to recent veterans and current service members because it demonstrates that resistance to war and occupation starts as a personal transformation and is much more profound and meaningful than any one action. He inspires not only veterans and soldiers, but all of us.”
--Kelly Dougherty, Co-founder and Executive Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War
“Camilo Mejía, one of the Iraq war’s earliest critics, has delivered a poignant, illuminating memoir of courage, resistance, and compassion for the innocent Iraqis he left behind. Road from ar Ramadi is a must-read in the canon of Iraq war literature.”
--Laila Al-Arian, journalist and co-author of Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians
“Most powerful are his firsthand experiences of prisoner abuse, senseless patrols that invite insurgent attacks, discord among his demoralized comrades and their careerist officers, and the constant brutalization of Iraqis by paranoid, trigger-happy GIs…. Those stories add up to an indelible portrait of the dirty war in the Sunni triangle and Mejía's painful confrontation with his complicity in it.”