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Soldiers' views on war shifted, says friend of US soldier who self-immolated

February 29, 2024 at 6:13 pm

Hundreds of people, including Jews, gather in front of the Israeli Embassy to collectively mourn the US airman Aaron Bushnell, 25, an active-duty member of the US Air Force, who died after setting himself ablaze in protest of Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza on February 27, 2024. [Fatih Aktaş – Anadolu Agency]

Two American soldiers’ views on wars evolved due to their military experiences, said Levi Pierpont, a friend of American soldier, Aaron Bushnell, who self-immolated in protest of Israel’s assaults on the Gaza Strip, Anadolu Agency reports.

Pierpont spoke about Bushnell with Democracy Now – an independent American news program.

He noted meeting Bushnell in Air Force basic training and described him as having a strong commitment to justice.

Pierpont said he personally conscientiously objected and left the military last July and Bushnell also considered leaving at that time, but decided not to follow the same path.

He said they found inspiration from social media content creators advocating for social justice movements in the US.

WATCH: Vigil held for US airman Aaron Bushnell outside Israeli embassy in Washington, DC

“Over the years, both of us shifted, of course, in our beliefs regarding war, largely because of what we saw in the military, largely because of the things that we learned because we were a part of it,” he said.

Pierpont conveyed his deep sorrow and said he shed tears after learning the news about Bushnell setting himself on fire.

Aaron Bushnell’s self-immolation

Bushnell, a 25-year-old serving in the Air Force, declared in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington that he refused to partake in what he was deemed as acts of “genocide”.

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide. I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest, but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonisers, it’s not extreme at all. “This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal,” he said during a live stream on his mobile phone.

Then he proceeded to douse himself in gasoline, setting himself ablaze.

Dressed in military uniform, Bushnell shouted “Freedom for Palestine” repeatedly, until he could no longer speak.

An embassy police officer was seen aiming his firearm at Bushnell, who was engulfed in flames, while another attempted to put out the fire, remarking: “I don’t need guns. I need a fire extinguisher.”

The Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that Bushnell died after setting himself on fire.

The US Air Force has deemed Bushnell’s protest a “tragedy”.

WATCH: US airman sets himself on fire in front of Israeli Embassy in Washington