Contents: The Sir! No Sir! blog is an information clearing house, drawing on a wide variety of sources, to track the unfolding history of the new GI Movement, and the wars that brought the movement to life.
Where applicable, parallels will be drawn between the new movement and the Vietnam era movement which was the focus of the film Sir! No Sir!
Disclaimer: In accordance with title 17 u.s.c. section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.
The Sir! No Sir! Blog has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is the Sir! No Sir! Blog endorsed or sponsored by the originator. Links are provided to allow for verification of authenticity.
This fundraising appeal was posted to theWe Move to Canada blog
The War Resisters Support Campaign is asking for your help again. Our fight to secure safe haven for US war resisters in Canada continues. Without critical funds, we cannot win.
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Thousands of US soldiers have refused to participate in the US's invasion and occupation of Iraq, choosing to obey their consciences instead of illegal military orders. Some of these courageous men and women have come to Canada, seeking sanctuary.
The majority of Canadian people believe these veterans should be allowed to live in Canada. On two separate occasions, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion calling on the Government to allow the war resisters to stay. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his minority government ignored both motions.
Now a private member's bill in support of US Iraq war resisters has been introduced in the House of Commons. If passed into law, Bill C-440 will give the previous motions the force of law.
But what happens until then?
Shamefully, the Harper Government continues to deport war resisters. If forced to return to the US, the war resisters will be court martialled, imprisoned and likely receive dishonourable discharges, the equivalent of a felony conviction.
Until a law is passed allowing the war resisters to stay in Canada, the War Resister Support Campaign must fight each deportation order in court. Even with discounted fees from lawyers sympathetic to our cause, we face thousands of dollars in legal costs.
That's why we need your help.
This is an all-volunteer campaign, so every dollar you pledge (minus a fee for the Fundable service) will go directly towards legal costs for war resisters like Jeremy Hinzman and Dean Walcott.
Jeremy Hinzman was one of the first Iraq War resisters to seek refuge in Canada. Jeremy, his wife Nga Nguyen, son Liam and daughter Meghan, a Canadian citizen, also face deportation. (See photo.) Jeremy says he will go to prison rather than kill innocent people in Iraq, but we believe he should be allowed to live in peace in Canada.
Dean Walcott served two tours of duty in Iraq. He was also stationed at a US military hospital in Germany, where mortally wounded US soldiers and Iraqi civilians lived out their last days. The carnage was ghastly. Dean began having nightmares and became severely depressed.
Once Dean was back in the US, the Marines obstructed his efforts to get help for his depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms, but there was no legal way for him to leave the military. In December 2006, Dean walked away from his base in North Carolina and boarded a Greyhound bus for Toronto.
Dean now trains high school students in computer repair, working for reBOOT Canada, a non-profit organization that provides computers and technical support to charities and low-income Canadians.
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Please help us win our battle to keep US war resisters safe in Canada.
You can pledge as little as $10 or as much as you can afford. We've set a modest goal of $2500. If we reach that goal by the Fundable deadline, your pledge will be charged (in US dollars) to your credit card or PayPal account. If we raise more than $2500, the Fundable campaign will continue until the deadline, and every dollar will go to war resister legal defense.
Supporting war resisters is a concrete way you can support peace, and funds are desperately needed. For more information, see the War Resisters Support Campaign, or the blog we move to canada under the category "war resisters".
With thanks and in peace,
The War Resisters Support Campaign
This announcement was posted to the We Move to Canada Blog, August 13, 2009.
On Wednesday, August 19, we'll launch Rally For Rodney, a national and international day of action in calling on the Harper Government to stop the deportation of Iraq War veteran Rodney Watson.
Rodney served a full year in Iraq, and was three months away from the end of his contract, when the military ordered him to deploy to Iraq for a second year. By this time Rodney knew the war in Iraq was based on lies, and was a war of aggression waged against a civilian population. He refused to deploy, coming to Canada instead. He's been living in BC since 2007 and has a Canadian-born son.
Plan on putting aside a little time for phone calls, letter writing and other activities in support of Rodney.
Also on Wednesday, August 19, if you're in the Toronto area, you can show support for war resister Dean Walcott by joining our vigil outside the federal court. Details here.
The following profiles, by Maggie Gilmour, were posted to Toronto Life, July 2009
To avoid serving in Iraq, 300 American soldiers have left their homes and families and fled to Canada, 75 of them to Toronto. Many assumed they’d get a visa, settle down and live a normal life. But the federal government has rejected their refugee claims and ordered them deported. Some go into hiding; others wait for appeals and judicial reviews of their cases. In the meantime, they’ve put down roots, taking temp jobs and raising children, nostalgic for a time when Canada was a haven for conscientious objectors.
PHIL MCDOWELL, 29
HOMETOWN: Warwick, Rhode Island
ARRIVED: October 14, 2006
STATUS: Refugee application denied, appealing to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration for protected person status
I went to a small college in Poughkeepsie, New York. After 9/11, I wanted to do something useful to defend my country. I graduated with a degree in IT and joined the army a month later. I believed, we all believed, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I went to Iraq in February 2004, and when we first drove into Baghdad you could taste burning tires and garbage in the air. My job was to set up communications networks at bases. One day I saw Donald Rumsfeld on TV saying that we were no longer looking for weapons of mass destruction. I thought, Then what the hell are we doing here? My commanding officer told us we were spreading democracy and freedom. I got suspicious and ordered books off Amazon: Bush at War by Bob Woodward, The 9/11 Commission Report, American Soldier by Tommy Franks. We had been lied to, and we did so many things wrong in Iraq. When we held detainees at our base, they’d be put out in the sun for hours at a time, hands zip-cuffed, hoods on their heads.
My tour ended in February 2005. I got home and spent time with my girlfriend, Jamine. By June 2006, I’d fulfilled my four-year contract, and I was done. I was so happy to be out, and I started a five‑month hike on the Appalachian Trail. When I was in New Hampshire, I got the call that I’d been stop-lossed and had to report back to base to deploy for another 15 months. I told my commanding officer I didn’t support the war and asked if there was something else I could do in the army to avoid going back to Iraq. He said no. I called my congressman and my senator’s office; I called a civilian military officer and a lawyer. They all said, “There is nothing you can do. You have to report back.” I couldn’t continue to serve in a war that I was morally opposed to, so I picked up clothes from my parents’ house and drove north.
At first I lived with a Toronto family who belong to a group of war resisters; then I got my own apartment at Broadview and Danforth. Jamine joined me in November 2006, after we got married. Jamine plays lacrosse, and she’s coaching at U of T. I have a work permit and install solar thermal heating systems. If things work out and I get a visa, I’d like to keep working in my field; the new Ontario Green Energy Act has created a lot of interest. One day when we met officials about our refugee application, there were people from Zimbabwe in the waiting room who had probably fled their own wars. We showed up in our Ralph Lauren shirts—people laughed at us.
PATRICK HART, 35
HOMETOWN: New Bedford, Massachusetts
ARRIVED: August 20, 2005
STATUS: Refugee application denied, deportation order postponed
I decided to join the army in 1992, after graduating from high school by the skin of my teeth. I served for three years in Germany as a warehouse guy, operating a forklift. I left at the end of that tour, thinking that with my military record I’d be able to get a job. I made tacos, did construction work and got laid off from a job at a steel factory. I married my wife, Jill, in March 2000 and rejoined the army that year because I needed an income to start a family. For the first three years, I worked in the motor pool at my base in Fort Riley, Kansas, and it was nine-to-five, pretty relaxed. My son, Rian, was born in 2002, and a year later I was sent to Kuwait to do maintenance on all the trucks and machines. There was a lot of just sitting around, shooting the shit. When we found out there were no weapons of mass destruction, I felt like I was putting my life on the line for nothing. I returned to the U.S. in March 2004 and told Jill that I wanted to leave the army, but she convinced me to stay for the health care, since our son has epilepsy. We argued about it a lot, but I couldn’t convince her, and I decided to leave without telling her. I knew that if I’d told her I was deserting, she would have turned me in and I would have gone to jail.
I left for Canada in August 2005; my parents drove me over the border. We told the border guard we were going to the CNE. When the army found out I had left, they sent military police to look for me at our home on the base. They ransacked the place in the middle of the night, looking for signs I was still living there. They went into Rian’s room and turned the light on and dumped all the dresser drawers out on the floor. They scared Jill pretty badly. I think she realized then that they were the bad guys, and she and Rian joined me in Canada a month later. We moved into a co-op near the lake. When I first arrived, I worked for a while at Lula Lounge running food and helping out at the bar, but my work permit ended. I keep busy by playing in a Misfits tribute band; we sometimes perform at the Bovine and the Rivoli.
When you apply for refugee status, you have to meet with a border services agent who asks if you’ll leave if you’re ordered deported. My lawyer told me that if you waver, if it seems like you are lying, or if you’re dumb enough to say no, they take you into custody at that moment and keep you in a hotel room near the office. So I said yes. My mother and father always say, “We’d rather visit you in Canada than at the cemetery.” My wife once asked my commanding officer what happens to soldiers who go AWOL. He said, “We put them on guard duty in Iraq with no ammo in their weapon, no plates in their bulletproof jacket, and just see what happens.”
CHUCK WILEY, 37
HOMETOWN: Frankfort, Kentucky
ARRIVED: February 11, 2007
STATUS: Refugee application denied, applied for consideration on compassionate grounds to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
The military is a big deal in my family. Of my father’s eight siblings, seven went into the military. My dad was immensely proud of me when I started basic training after Grade 11. I went in first as a classified communications electronics technician, which is a fancy name for someone who fixes radios. I did that in Louisville for three years, then signed on for full-time active duty in the navy; I maintained and operated nuclear reactors on ships. In 2004, I was assigned to serve on the USS Enterprise, where the planes rest between bombing missions. We were situated near the Persian Gulf, in the Strait of Hormuz. The summer of 2006, I asked one of my buddies in weapons why our F‑18s were returning covered in bullet holes, and he told me how the army was surrounding areas with suspected insurgents at dawn and flying F-18s right over the heads of the villagers to create as much chaos and fear as possible. Whoever fled was deemed a “person of interest” and rounded up. The fourth Geneva Convention details the treatment of civilians. It says you need to protect them from conflict, and you can’t treat all civilians as if they are the enemy—but that’s what we were doing. When I complained about it, I was told to just follow orders and not ask questions.
In mid-October 2006, we turned around and headed home to Norfolk, Virginia. I asked to be put on a ship going to any mission other than the Middle East. Instead, I was ordered to serve on the George Washington, which was headed for Iraq in four months. I spoke to a lawyer, who told me I had to report for duty or go to jail. Instead, I left for Canada.
I now live in a basement apartment at Donlands and Danforth and have a job maintaining the heating and cooling systems at a private school near Yonge and St. Clair. After nuclear reactors, it’s pretty easy. I’ve been giving anti-war talks at Ryerson, Queen’s and the University of Waterloo. I had never experienced cultural diversity until I moved here. Most Americans in small towns have never met a Muslim. Here, I have a Muslim colleague who works in IT. When you’ve met Muslims, worked with them, got into serious conversations with them, it’s a hell of a lot harder to follow orders to kill them.
DEAN WALCOTT, 27
HOMETOWN: Saratoga, New York
ARRIVED: December 6, 2006
STATUS: Refugee application denied, waiting to be granted a judicial review of his deportation order
I joined the marines in 2000 to put some discipline in me. My parents didn’t like it, but they weren’t too worried: 9/11 hadn’t happened, so no one thought I’d go to war. At basic training, they beat the shit out of you, fist in the face, kick you in the gut, throw you up against walls. My first posting was in Okinawa, Japan. I repaired electronics, sang karaoke, and drank a lot of Habu sake, a crazy drink made with snake venom.
In 2003, they sent me to Iraq to be a gunner. We’d travel in convoys down the road, from one base to another. I sat in the turret of a Humvee with a machine gun, looking out for the enemy. In a border town called Safwan, we saw some kids who had been beaten up by British and American soldiers. They had slogans written on their foreheads in black permanent marker: “terrorist in training” and “camel jockey.” A year after my tour in Iraq, I was sent to an army hospital in Stuttgart, where I processed paperwork for injured soldiers. Some of them were missing all of their limbs; some had survived being set on fire but were a red and black mass that looked nothing like a human being, families standing around their beds screaming and crying. We did whatever we could for the soldiers—got them a pizza or an Adam Sandler movie, whatever they asked for. I was sent back to Iraq again and stayed there until March 2006. When I returned to the U.S., I couldn’t sleep because of my nightmares. When I’d talk to the guys in my unit, they would just say, ”Shut up, you’re a wimp, stop whining.” I became a recluse and spent all my time chatting with my rabbit, Lunchbox, who I’d bought at a mall.
One night, I typed “war” and “get out” into Google and found a war resisters Web site. I dropped Lunchbox off with a friend, got on a Greyhound bus and came north. Now I live in Parkdale with two other resisters and have a temporary work permit for my job at Reboot, a non-profit that repairs donated used computers and gives them to low-income families. I go to Galaxy Donuts for coffee and have beer with my friends at the Cadillac Lounge. I like it here; there is an attitude of live-and-let-live. I’m still in touch with my parents through e‑mail, and they’re proud of my decision.
KIMBERLY RIVERA, 27
HOMETOWN: Mesquite, Texas
ARRIVED: February 18, 2007
STATUS: Refugee application denied, judicial review of her deportation order is scheduled for July
Army recruiters called my house 20 times when I was in high school, and I knew that the only way I’d be able to afford an education was if I joined. My sign-up bonus would be $8,000, and my college and health care would be covered. I was 17 when I joined the reserves. Five months into my training, I discovered I was pregnant. They gave me an honourable discharge, and I moved in with my boyfriend, Mario. We had our first child, Christian, then our second, Rebecca. We had no health insurance, and the stress made me a terrible person: I threw shoes at my husband, threw the TV off the balcony. In January 2006, I rejoined the army. Mario and I got married that same month.
That October, my unit left for Iraq, and I spent three months patting down civilians as a gate guard. Most of my fellow soldiers treated me like a sister, but not all of them. Some of them would hound me: “You look so fine, I want to get with you.” It was the most attention I’d had in my whole life. When I got back to Mesquite from Iraq, I realized how much I missed Mario and how badly I wanted out of the army—it was too hard on our relationship. We left Texas in January 2007 and drove north. By the time we got to Kansas City, I was having second thoughts. I wrote out a pros and cons list. If I left, I’d lose my furniture, which was at the base in Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, and my salary—$1,200 every two weeks. If I went back to Iraq, my marriage wouldn’t survive, and I’d lose my peace of mind.
We crossed at the Rainbow Bridge, said we were going shopping, and the guards waved us through. For three months, we lived with a family in Oakville who had volunteered to house resisters. That April, we moved to a one-bedroom apartment at King and Jameson. For nine months, I worked at Cobs Bread in Kensington; then I had my third kid, Katie. Mario took a course to operate a forklift, but neither of us has a work permit. We sit around waiting for the government to decide what to do with us—they put a stay on my deportation order this past March. When we first arrived in Canada, I still felt paranoid and unhappy—like I was back in Iraq. Now it’s our home.
This article, by Tiffany Crawford, was published by Canwest News Service, January 6, 2009.
OTTAWA - An American war resister, who was told he must leave Canada Tuesday or face deportation to the United States, will not have to vacate the country until at least the end of January, says a support group.
Michelle Robidoux, a spokeswoman for the War Resisters Support Campaign, said Dean Walcott's case has been held over until Jan. 30.
Other U.S. resisters facing possible deportation include Cliff Cornell, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart, Matt Lowell and Kimberly Rivera - and their families.
Some of the resisters have applied to the Federal Court to have their cases overturned on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
``If the Federal Court agrees to a judicial review of these resister's cases, that could be very positive,'' said Robidoux.
The Federal Court previously agreed to hear two of the cases, said Lee Zaslofsky, co-ordinator of the support group. Glass has been granted a new application to stay on humanitarian grounds while Hinzman and his family will go before the court Feb. 10.
``I'm hoping the Federal Court will be positive in Jermemy Hinzman's case and if not set a precedent, then at least give guidance on other cases that are pending, as well,'' said Zaslofsky.
``My feeling is it would be a travesty if people were deported only to find out, in Jeremy Hinzman's case, the court overturns the decisions . . . and the government threw them out anyway.''
Rivera, who was the first woman to refuse to serve after being deployed to Iraq, will face a decision on her deportation order Wednesday.
Rivera gave birth Nov. 23, said Robidoux, and will go before the board on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.
``So if she is deported and jailed, she will be separated from her newborn and she has two other young children,'' said Robidoux.
Cornell, who was ordered to leave Canada by Dec. 24, or face deportation, also had his case held over until Jan. 22.
Cornell, 28, is originally from Arkansas but lives on Gabriola Island, near Nanaimo, B.C. He has been in Canada since January 2005 after refusing deployment to the Iraq war.
Another American, Christopher Teske, also living in B.C., will have a decision heard Jan. 20.
Lowell is waiting to hear whether his appeal will be heard.