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 paper, by Robin Long, was written while he was incarcerated at the Mirimar Brig and posted to the Blog Free Robin Long, 12 March, 2009.
N 2004, when military resister Jeremy Hinzman applied for refugee status in Canada, the Conservative government stepped in to his Refugee hearing and stated evidence challenging the legality of the War in Iraq can’t be used in his case. However, the U.N Handbook for Refugee’s and the Nuremburg Principles states: a soldier of an Army that is involved in an illegal war of aggression has a higher international duty to refuse service. Said soldier also has the right to seek refugee protection in any country that is signatory to the Geneva Convention. By refusing to allow him- and by precedent ALL other claimants the right to use that argument, they closed the door on that legal avenue for refugee protection.
THE US invasion of Iraq was clearly an illegal war of aggression. The US was not under attack, or the immanent threat of attack from the nation of Iraq, nor was the war approved by the UN Security Council. By taking the stance it did, the Canadian Government implicitly condoned the invasion & continuing occupation of Iraq. Is that what Canadians want? A majority of Americans want it to end and have come to realize it a mistake, at best. Canadians have long known it to be wrong. Why is the minority Conservative government still holding on to the idea, and still deporting war resisters? Why are they separating families and aiding in the imprisonment of morally strong men and women?
IN June 2007, Canada’s Parliament voted on a non- binding resolution to allow war resisters and their families permanent resident status. That vote passed, and in agreement with that vote, a poll of Canadian opinion showed overwhelming support for the resolution. In defiance of parliaments intent and the will of the people, the Conservative minority government, led by Prime Minister Steven Harper and Immigration Minister Diane Finley ignored the bill. The Government stated: All refugee claimants are given a fair chance to plead their case before the Refugee Board, and special treatment to these Iraq resisters were unfair to other claimants. Further, they stated that we are not legitimate claimants because we are from the US, and that the US has a fair and transparent justice system, and that we wouldn’t be singled out for being political.
ON JULY 14th, 2008, in my final attempt to stay in Canada, where my son and community is, Federal Judge Ann Mactavish stated that I didn’t prove I would be treated harshly by the US military for being a politically outspoken opponent to the War in Iraq and Bush Administration policy. She predicted my punishment would be minimal, 30 days in the brig, perhaps. She then cleared the way for my deportation/extradition. She noted only10% of these cases go to Court Martial.
A MONTH later, I was tried in a Court Martial presided over by a judge, a Colonel in the US Army, who has President Bush in her chain-of-command. (She was later appointed by Bush to oversee trials at Guantanamo Bay, no doubt because of her political credentials.
THE ONLY aggravating evidence the Prosecution presented was a 6 minute video of me stating, among other things, that I believed my President lied to me. A political statement. The fact that this was found admissible in court for the charge of Desertion is beyond me. There were no character witnesses brought against me. The ONLY factors the Prosecution wanted shown in determining my sentence was the fact I was political and exercising my freedom of speech in criticizing my Commander-in-Chief.
IT SEEMS like a conflict of interest to have a judge determine my fate when she has to ultimately answer to the President, while I was claiming that same President was a domestic enemy, who used any reason, and manufactured reasons, to invade and wreak havoc in Iraq.
THE JUDGE came back with 30 months- that’s two and a half years for not showing up for work that I believed to be morally objectionable, criminal, and its by far the harshest sentence given to a resister/deserter of the Iraq War.
I was saved from that by a plea bargain that got me 15 months. I STILL get a Dishonorable Discharge (DD). A DD will keep me from many fields of employment, from any Government position to the civilian world. It will make getting home loans all the harder. This is a FELONY CONVICTION- which will make it very hard, perhaps impossible to return to Canada to be with my young family. It is the worst grade of discharge there is.
PEOPLE THAT committed far worse crimes have been getting off with lighter sentences than me. 1st Infantry Division soldier Spec. Belmor Ramos was sentenced to only 7 months after being convicted of conspiracy to commit murder- 4 Iraqi men. I refused to participate in killings, he stood guard while others executed four unidentified Iraqi men, afterwards dumping their bodies in a Baghdad canal on ’07. During his court martial Ramos admitted his guilt, stating: “I wanted them dead. I had no legal justification to do this.” Where is the justice? The system is neither fair nor impartial. Can it really be transparent when you don’t know who is influencing the judge from up the chain of command? Do you see how the military justice system works? – Condone killings with light sentences, but God forbid someone should call President Bush a liar and a war monger. A persons words and political opinion must be far more damaging to the good order of the military if they are anti war and critical of the President, than a soldiers criminal actions in an occupied foreign nation…..
PEOPLE HAVE used the argument that I signed a contract, quite often. I’d like to quote from a letter one o the Founders of our United States wrote to General Washington concerning his thoughts on contracts in April, 1793: “When performance, for instance, becomes impossible, non performance is not immoral. So if performance becomes destructive to the Party, the law of self-preservation overrules the laws of obligations to others. For the reality of these principals I appeal to the true fountains of evidence: the head and heart of every rational honest man.”- Thomas Jefferson. For me to continue in my military contract would have been destructive to me as a person with my views, morals and ideals. Let alone the Iraqi’s, who have died in the hundreds of thousands ….
THE CONTRACT I signed was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to obey the LAWFUL orders of the President and those officers over me. I did not sign to be a strong arm for corporate interests or oil. The so called Liberation of Iraq has turned into nothing more than a constant and protracted struggle by the people of Iraq, against forces, seen and unseen, that are trying to impose their will on them in a public war for private power and profit. True freedom is the ultimate expression and condition of a people to control their OWN destiny, not the manufactured variety being offered here. True democracy is not found at the point of a gun. It rises up from within the mass of the people.
IT WASN’T about WMD’s, or we would have found some. It wasn’t about “regime change” or we would have been in Darfur, or Indonesia, or a dozen other countries. It wasn’t about 9/11 because they were from Saudi Arabia. It dosn’t say anywhere in my contract that I would be going to foreign soil, half way around the world, to invade a country that was of no threat to the United States. To risk my life, not in defending the people or Constitution of the United States but creating more enemies for them by being in an occupying force. Iraq, however unhappy under our former ally/client Hussein, was never a real threat. The destabilized nation of Iraq has become a breeding ground and awesome recruiting tool for Al Queda. It has cost the American people an enormous price. Im not talking just te trillion dollar financial burden, but the human cost of the war. The deaths of so many of our brave youth, the missing limbs, the PTSD, the suicides. The invasion has made far more enemies for the United States and made the world a far more dangerous place.
THE ORDER to go to Iraq was not a lawful one. It violates our Constitution. Article IV states that ANY treaty the US is signatory to shall be the supreme law of the land. Last time I checked, the US is signatory to the Geneva Conventions. There are certain laws in that treaty for declaring war, last time I checked, “regime change” wasn’t one of them. A country must be under attack or immanent treat of attack. Neither was true in the case of Iraq. President Bush had no right to interpret the Constitution as he saw fit, on the grounds it was a new world after 9/11, and the 107th Congress had no right to pass HJ Res. 114, which “allowed” the President to invade Iraq. The Constitution was being ignored by the whole lot of them and they were derelict in their duty to uphold it.
THE STAND that the Conservative government of Canada has taken has separated a family, an act totally un-Canadian. I have a young son, a Canadian citizen, and a Canadian partner with MS, left to raise our son while I’m locked in a brig for refusing to participate in a war Canada , in 2003, under a different Government, wouldn’t send troops to. Back then, they saw the holes in Bush’s “intelligence”. By deporting me, and not giving me a chance to leave willingly, I have been barred from entering Canada for at least 10 years. My flesh and blood is there!
The Conservatives are destroying Canada’s tradition of being a refuge from militarism and an asylum from injustices that goes back to the times of slavery. Are they truly representing the people? Who are they working for, really?
THE DAYS of Bush have ended. This new Obama administration has a different view and a different policy. Its now time for Mr Harper to change his view. He should listen to Parliament and the solid majority of his citizens!
Please support the movement to allow War Resisters to stay in Canada and pardon the ones in the US. I ask anyone who reads this: please! Help me return to Canada to be with my partner and son. I want only to live in peace and be in his life.
STOP THE WAR. Peace, love, light.
Incarcerated Prisoner of the US Military
PO BOX 452136, San Diego, CA, 92145
This alert, was posted to the Let Them Stay Campaign Facebook page, August 6, 2009
Iraq war resister Rodney Watson has been ORDERED to LEAVE CANADA by AUGUST 10, 2009.
Full Story: A U.S. Iraq War veteran and war resister who has been living in Vancouver since 2007 has been told to leave Canada by August 10 or face removal.
RICHMOND BC DEMO TODAY: 9:00 a.m. PDT Unit 360, 5951 No. 3 Road Richmond, BCTORONTO DEMO TOMORROW: On Friday, August 7, 4:30 p.m., northwest corner of University Avenue and Queen Street West.
Rodney Watson is a veteran of the Iraq War. After seeing the way Iraqi civilians were being treated by the US, he refused a second deployment, choosing to come to Canada instead. Watson now has a Canadian-born son, and seeks only to live in peace in his new home.
In June 2009, the Immigration Critics from all three opposition parties wrote to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney, calling on him to honour the will of Parliament and “not to use the Parliamentary recess to disregard the expressed will of the House of Commons with respect to the fair treatment of Iraq War resisters in Canada”. A majority of Members of Parliament voted twice to allow U.S. war resisters to remain in Canada, first in June 2008, then again in March 2009.
Despite this very clear mandate, Minister Kenney and the Harper Government continue to deport Iraq War resisters. Several war resisters already have been deported to the U.S., where two have been court martialed and imprisoned. In addition to Watson, several other war resisters in Canada live under threat of deportation, including Kimberly Rivera, Jeremy Hinzman and Patrick Hart. All are parents of young children.
In January, Minister Kenney publicly denounced U.S. war resisters as “bogus refugee claimants,” revealing the government’s blanket opposition to what is supposed to be an impartial process. The Minister’s blatantly prejudicial comments were promptly denounced by Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Council for Refugees.
This was originally posted to the facebook group Let Them Stay Campaign: Support Iraq War Resisters
On June 3rd, US Iraq war resister Joshua Key went before the Immigration and Refugee Board for the second time to make his case for asylum in Canada.
Joshua Key, who wrote The Deserter’s Tale with reknowned author Lawrence Hill, asked the Federal Court for a judicial review of the negative decision in his first refugee hearing.
The Federal Court ordered that the IRB hear his case again. In his decision last July, Justice Barnes stated “… officially condoned military misconduct falling well short of a war crime may support a claim to refugee protection.
Indeed, the authorities indicate that military action which systematically degrades, abuses or humiliates either combatants or non-combatants is capable of supporting a refugee claim where that is the proven reason for refusing to serve. I have, therefore, concluded that the Board erred by imposing a too restrictive legal standard upon Mr. Key.
Several Iraq war resisters, including Jeremy Hinzman, are currently threatened with deportation by the Canadian government. This is despite Parliament having voted twice in ten months to stop the deportations and implement a program to allow US Iraq war resisters to apply for permanent resident status in Canada.
On the one-year anniversary of the first motion passed by Parliament to let resisters stay, join us in support of Joshua Key and the other Iraq war resisters and send a message to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and the Conservative government that it is time for them to stop imposing their minority views, that it is time for them to implement the will of Parliament and the majority of Canadians.
Stop deporting war resisters to certain punishment!
Let them stay!
This appeal, by Robin Long, was posted to Courage to Resist, March 2008
In 2004 when Jeremy Hinzman applied for refugee status in Canada the Conservative government stepped in at his Refugee Hearing and said that evidence challenging the legality of the war in Iraq can’t be used in this case. The U.N. Handbook for Refugees and the Nuremburg Principals say:
a soldier of an army that is involved in an illegal war of aggression has a higher international duty to refuse service. They also have the right to seek refugee protection in any country that is signatory to the Geneva Convention.
By refusing to allow him, and by precedent all other claimants, the right to use the argument that the war was illegal, the decision closed the door on that legal avenue for refugee protection.
The invasion of Iraq was clearly an illegal act of aggression. The U.S. was not under attack or the imminent threat of attack from the nation of Iraq. The action was also not approved by the U.N. Security Council. By taking this stance, the Conservative government is condoning the invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq. Is this what Canadians want? A majority of Americans want it to end and have also realized it to be a mistake. Canadians have long known it to be wrong. Why is the minority Conservative government still holding onto the idea and still deporting war resisters? Why are they separating families and being complicit in the incarceration of morally strong young men and women? What message is this sending?
Parliament voted to let war resisters remain
In June of 2007 Canada’s Parliament voted on a non-binding resolution to allow war resisters and their families permanent resident status. The vote passed. In agreement with the vote, a poll of Canadian opinion showed overwhelming support for the resolution. But I defiance of Parliament and the will of the people, the Conservative minority government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Diane Finley ignored the bill. The government stated that all refugee claimants are give a fair chance to plead their case at the Refugee Board, and special treatment to these Iraq resisters wasn’t fair to the other claimants. The government has also stated in the past that we are not legitimate claimants because we are from the U.S. which they say has a fair and transparent justice system and we wouldn’t be singled out for being political.
On July 14th,2008 in my final attempt to stay in Canada, where my son and community are, Federal Judge Ann Mactavish stated that I didn’t prove I would be treated harshly by the U.S. military for being a politically outspoken opponent to the war in Iraq and the Bush administration policy. She predicted that my punishment would be minimal and I’d serve at most 30 days in the brig. (This is probably because less than 10% of AWOL cases are brought to court martial.) She then cleared the way for my deportation. Convicted of a felony Less than a month later I was tried in a court martial presided over by a judge who is a colonel in the Army, a person who has the President in her chain of command. (A person late appointed by Bush to Guantanamo Bay no doubt because of her credentials and political position.) The only aggravating evidence the prosecution presented was a 6 minute long video of me stating among other things that “I feel my president lied to me.” (A political statement.) The fact that this was found admissible in court for the crime of desertion is beyond me. There were no character witnesses brought against me. The only factor the prosecution wanted shown in determining a sentence was the fact that I was political and exercising my freedom of speech in criticizing the Commander in Chief. It seems like a conflict of interest to have a judge determine my fate when she has to ultimately answer to the President, while I was claiming the President was a domestic enemy. While I was openly saying in my defense that the Bush administration created reasons to go to Iraq, she had superiors to answer to who answer to the President.
The judge came back with a 30 month sentence; that’s two and a half years for not showing up for work I thought to be morally objectionable, by far the harshest sentence given to a deserter from the Iraq war. The only thing that saved me was a plea bargain for 15 months. I still received a dishonorable discharge. A dishonorable discharge will keep me from ever having a government job and be at a disadvantage in the civilian sector as well. I will have a hard time ever getting a loan for a house or a car. This conviction is also a felony! A felony will make it hard for me to return to Canada to be with my young family. Then again, Judge Ann Mactavish had already made sure I wouldn’t be allowed in for ten year.
People who committed far worse crimes have been getting off with lighter sentences than mine. I refused to participate in killing and got 15 months, but a First Infantry Division soldier, Spc. Belmor Ramos, was sentenced to only seven months after being convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in the case of four Iraqi men. In 2007, he stood guard while others blindfolded and shot in the head four unidentified Iraqi men, afterwards dumping their bodies in a Baghdad canal. During his court martial, Ramos admitted his guilt, stating, “I wanted them dead. I had no legal justification to do this” Where is the justice? The system is not fair and impartial. Can it really be transparent when you don’t know who is influencing the judge from up the chain of command? See how the military justice system works? It gives light sentences for killing, but God forbid someone should call the president a liar and war-monger. In a court martial, a person’s words and political opinions – if they are anti-war and critical of the president – seem be far more damaging to his case than someone’s illegal actions in an occupied foreign nation.
What about the contract I signed?
Often, people have argued that I signed a contract. I’d like to quote from a letter one of the Founding Fathers wrote to George Washington on his thoughts about contracts:
When performance, for instance, becomes impossible, non- performance is not immoral. So if performance becomes Self-destructive to the party, the law of self preservation Overrules the laws of obligations to others. For the reality of These principles I appeal to the true fountains of evidence, the head and heart of every rational man.--Thomas Jefferson, April 1793
For me to continue in my military contract would have been destructive to me as a person with my views, morals, and ideals. The contract I signed was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic, and to obey the lawful orders of the President and those officers appointed over me. I did not sign to be the strong arm for corporate interests of oil. The so-called “liberation” of Iraq has turned into nothing more than a constant and protracted struggle for the people, against the forces that are trying to impose their will upon them for power and profit. True freedom is the ultimate expression and condition of a people to control their own destiny, not the manufactured, force-fed variety being offered to the people of Iraq. True democracy is not found at the end of the end of a gun barrel. It rises up from within the masses. The government manufactured pretenses for the war
The invasion of Iraq wasn’t about WMDs, or else we would have found some. It wasn’t about regime change, or else we would be in Darfur, or Indonesia. (Besides, regime change is not a legitimate reason to go to war.) It wasn’t about 9/11 terrorists because most of those were from Saudi Arabia. It didn’t say anywhere in my contract that I’d be going to foreign soil halfway around the world, to invade a country that was no threat to the U.S. It didn’t say in my contract that I would be called upon to risk my life, not defending the people or the Constitution of the United States, but creating more enemies for our country by being an occupier. The invasion of Iraq has made the world a much more dangerous place.
Iraq was never a real threat. And now the destabilized nation of Iraq has become a breeding ground, an awesome recruiting center, for al Qaeda. And it has exacted a great price from the American people. I’m not talking about the huge monetary price, but the human cost of war, the deaths of so many of our brave youth, the missing limbs, the PTSD, the suicides.
The order for me to go to Iraq was not a lawful one. It violated the Constitution. Article VI of the Constitution states that any treaty to which the U.S. is a signatory shall be the supreme law of the land. The last time I checked, the U.S. was a signing party to the Geneva Conventions. There are certain rules in that treaty for declaring war, and the last time I checked, regime change was not one of them. A country must be under attack or be under threat of imminent attack. Neither was true in the case of Iraq. Former President Bush had no right to interpret the Constitution or the Geneva Conventions simply as he saw fit, and the 107th Congress had no right to pass H.J. Res. 114 which “allowed” the president to invade Iraq. The Constitution was being ignored by the whole lot of them and they were derelict in their duty to uphold it.
The stand that the Conservative government of Canada has taken has separated a family – an act totally un-Canadian. I have a young son, a Canadian citizen. My partner, also a Canadian citizen, has multiple sclerosis and has been left to raise our son alone while I’m locked in the brig for refusing to participate in a war that Canada itself wouldn’t even send troops to. In 2003 the then Liberal government saw the holes in Bush’s intelligence and refused to participate in the invasion. The Canadian government not only deported me, but barred me from entering Canada again for ten years! My flesh and blood is there! Uphold Canada’s humanitarian tradition
The Conservatives are destroying Canada’s tradition of being a refuge from militarism and an asylum for those escaping injustice – a tradition that goes back to the times of slavery. Are they truly representing the people? Who are they working for really? The days of Bush have ended. This new Obama administration has a different view and different policies. It’s time for Mr. Stephen Harper to change his view. He should listen to what his Parliament and a majority of Canadians are saying.
Please support the movement to allow war resisters to stay in Canada and to pardon those in the U.S. Please help me to return to Canada to be with my son. I want only to live in peace and be in this life. Stop the war!
Robin Long, Prisoner L4830R35, NAVCON Brig Miramar
The fight for Iraq war resisters to remain in Canada is a two front war.
The political front
On June 3, 2008, Canadian Parliament voted in favour of allowing Iraq war resisters to seek permanent residence status in Canada.
This non-binding motion called for the creation of a special government program to, "allow conscientious objectors and their families ... who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations to apply for permanent resident status."
One hundred and thirty-seven MPs from the Liberal party, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois voted in favour of the motion, while 110 Conservative MPs voted against.
While the motion was passed by a majority in Parliament, the minority Conservative government under Stephen Harper has yet to enact it; this despite constant lobbying
from the War Resister Support Campaign (WRSC), immigration rights groups and anti-war activists.
The judicial front
Even though Canadian Parliament had passed the June 3, 2008, it is non-binding. Therefore the Canadian immigration system, through the Immigrant and Refugee Board
(IRB), has been issuing deportation orders to those resisters who have applied for refugee status.
These deportation orders are being contested in the Canadian judicial system as the Federal Court considers a series of IRB decisions and defendant appeals.
Canada's immigration process includes both an Humanitarian and Compassionate (H + C) application and a Pre-Risk Removal Assessment (PRRA), to determine the impact of a deportation on the individual or if they would face undue hardship if returned to their home country.
There are a number of different resisters challenging their negative H + C and PRRA decisions, requesting an appeal or a new refugee application from the IRB.
One such case includes a Federal court judge's acceptance to review the deportation order of resister Jeremy Hinzman. This allows Hinzman and his wife and children to remain in Canada until the appeal of their negative PRRA is heard.
Despite an IRB ruling stating that Hinzman would face no undue hardship if returned to the United States to face a military trial for desertion, in (Federal Court) Justice Mosley ruling, he concluded that "[b]ased on the evidence and submissions before me, I am satisfied that the applicants would suffer irreparable harm if a stay were not granted pending determination of their leave application."
Lawyers for the resisters and the WRSC both assert that any soldier deported back to the US to stand trial would face undue hardship. They cite an emerging trend of prosecution in U.S. court marshal proceedings that considers speaking out publicly against the U.S. government and the Iraq war grounds for increased punishment.
This risk of harsher punishment - including prosecution with charges equal to a civilian felony conviction, prison sentences, denial of veteran benefits for themselves and their family and the military humiliation of receiving a dishonourable discharge - is at the heart of Hinzman's immigration case currently before the courts.
In recent days, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney (replacing Diane Finley) has been catching heat for public statements made to the Toronto Sun concerning US war resisters, spoken from his position as the minister directly in charge of immigration.
Commenting after resister Kimberly Rivera received a negative IRB decision on January 7, 2009, he referred to Iraq war resisters as, "bogus refugee claimants" in a later interview on Parliament Hill.
He went on to state, "I don't appreciate people adding to the backlog and clogging up the system whose claims are being rejected consistently 100 per cent of the time."
Minister Kenney also responded to an article written by John Hogan in the Toronto Sun where Hogan questioned the independence of the IRB in light of the Conservative governments consistent negative stance towards US war resisters. In a response to this article, he wrote that, "war resistance is futile" and re-affirmed the IRB'S independence.
Critics of the minority Conservative government claim that Minister Kenney's comments prejudice any immigration hearings for war resisters.
Lee Zaslofsky, an organizer with the War Resister Support Campaign (WRCS), criticized Minister Kenney's comments as political interference on the supposedly independent IRB tribunal.
"Everyone, including war resisters, has the right to expect their applications will be dealt with in a fair and impartial manner," he wrote in a statement.
"Minister Kenney's comments show the Harper government has a blanket policy of opposition against war resisters, which makes it nearly impossible for them to be treated on a 'case-by-case basis' as our government has been leading Canadians to believe."
Criticism of Minister Kenney's remarks were also laid down through an open letter by Elizabeth McWeeney, President of the Canadian Council of Refugees.
In the letter writ on January 8, 2009, she stated her concern surrounding Minister Kenney's comments which she called, "highly inappropriate" since they "give the strong appearance of political interference."
She was referring to the fact that the IRB re-appointments are made by Cabinet and IRB members might fear for their tenure if they do not toe a certain political line.
She wrote, "highly publicized cases such as the war resisters are always challenging for the IRB which must live up to its obligations to make fair, impartial and politically unmotivated determinations, based on jurisprudence and the evidence before it."
Any political assertions otherwise, especially spoken from the minister responsible for immigration affairs, threatens the independence of the IRB and the right of war resisters to a fair immigration assessment.
McWeeny also refuted the Minister's assumptions around the burden that war resisters supposedly place on the Canadian immigration system.
She was "shocked" that Minister Kenney would attribute the systematic delays in the refugee claim process to the war resisters, slamming the Minister for the lack of credibility to his argument since the number of war resister claims was "miniscule".
Instead, she cited that the backlog was in fact a consequence of the Conservative government to appoint IRB members.
This slams shut the door on any Conservative government intentions to utilize a divide and conquer strategy between refugees.
The open letter ends with the Canadian Council of Refugees affirming its support for Iraq war resisters, "these are individuals who deserve our admiration for following their consciences and refusing to participate in wrongdoing, at significant cost to themselves."
This is a critical juncture for Iraq war resisters in Canada - with a series of deportation orders scheduled to start at the end of the month.
We as a society must weight their struggle using both our hands. Carefully determine the possible outcomes to their fight to remain in Canada. Carefully determine the value of life and the cost of protecting it.
Jail time in a U.S. prison for refusing to kill or a new home in Canada for refusing to kill.
The cost of laying down one's guns and refusing to fight is soon to be determined legally in our courts and morally in the hearts of Canadians across the country.
The price: freedom or deportation.
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.
This is a partial calendar, because how much much happens is up to you: people of peace all over Canada will make this week a success by becoming involved.
Please pledge to do one thing, every day, to support war resisters in Canada. A phone call to your MP. A letter to a local newspaper. An hour of leafletting outside a local event (Obama's inauguration might provide you with one). An email to all your contacts. One action, every day.
* * * *
Key upcoming dates include:
Jan 20: Removal date for Chris Teske
Jan 22: Removal date for Cliff Cornell
Jan. 26: Parliament resumes
Jan. 27: Removal date for the Rivera family (with 3 children, including an infant)
Jan 29: Removal date for the Hart family (with a child)
Jan. 30: Removal date for Dean Walcott
Feb. 10: Judicial review in Jeremy Hinzman's case
March 13: new IRB hearing for Joshua Key
March 18: Judicial review in Matt Lowell's case
The court dates in February and March may bring good news for our cause, so it's no coincidence that the Harper Government is trying to rush war resisters out of the country before then. If deported to the US, the war resisters face court martial, prison time and dishonourable discharges, the equivalent of a felony offence.
On June 3, 2008, Parliament passed a motion calling on the Government to cease all deportation proceedings against war resisters and allow them to stay in Canada. The Harper Government continues to flout democracy by ignoring the motion.
In response to this crisis, we are launching "Let Them Stay Week", January 19-26, a national week of actions to show the broad Canadian support to let war resisters stay.
As we mobilize support across Canada, I hope you will consider what you can do to help.
Monday, January 19: Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper of choice. When papers get enough letters on one topic, they're likely - even obligated - to print one or more.
2. Tuesday, January 20: Leaflet a local event. See the War Resisters Support Campaign site for a leaflet, make your own, or email me. The Obama Inauguration may provide you with a local event. If not, stand in front of a subway or commuter rail stop at rush hour.
3. Wednesday, January 21: In Toronto, we'll hold a press conference featuring war resister families and many prominent Canadians, including supportive MPs.
That evening, there'll be an event in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood, home to the Rivera family, Dean Walcott, Dale Landry, Ryan Johnson and other resisters live. This is a neighbourhood event organized by the community itself - mothers from Kim's day-care, people she knows through the local health centre, her son's school - working Canadians, many of whom are also immigrants. I'll post details as I have them.
If you want to plan a small solidarity event in your community, this might be the night to do it.
Thursday, January 22, will be a national call-in day focusing on Immigration Minister Jason Kenney & Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Friday, January 23 will be a day to call or drop by your local MP's office to ask what they are doing to support resisters.
The War Resisters Support Campaign encourages people of peace throughout Canada to use the framework of "Let them Stay Week" to be creative and organize local events in support of war resisters.
Any group you belong to - faith, peace, labour, LGBT, environment - can get involved. Please send this information to your membership and invite them to act.
Supporting resistance to war is a concrete way of supporting peace. And giving refuge to military resisters speaks to the kind of society we want Canada to be.
We are also collecting signatures of prominent Canadians for an open letter to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. If you have any leads in this regard, please get in touch with me.
This was posted to the We Move to Canada Blog, August 15, 2008
To all my friends in Canada, to all friends of peace:
The Immigration and Refugee Board has rejected the final appeal of Jeremy Hinzman, the first US war resister to apply for safe haven in Canada. Jeremy, his spouse Nga Nguyen, their six year old son and three-week-old daughter have been ordered to leave Canada by September 23 or be deported.
In the US, Jeremy will be court martialled for desertion. He will receive a prison sentence - anywhere from one year to life - and a dishonourable or bad conduct discharge. These discharges are the equivalent of a felony offense. Jeremy would be unable to get student loans, a mortgage, or almost any job.
His crime: he refused to kill innocent people in an illegal, immoral and unnecessary war.
On June 3, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion calling on the Government to allow war resisters to remain legally in Canada. All three opposition parties came together for this historic vote - but the Harper Government has ignored it.
Poll after poll shows that the majority of the Canadian people - people of all parties, in all areas of the country - support allowing Iraq War resisters to stay legally in Canada.
One war resister, Robin Long, has already been deported. Robin is now in military prison, and will soon be court martialled for desertion. (Robin also has a Canadian-born son.) We cannot let this happen to another person of conscience.
These deportations are not only inhumane. They are a slap in the face to Canadian democracy.
If you care about peace and justice, if you oppose the US occupation of Iraq, NOW is the time to get involved. Here's what you can do.
1. In Toronto: attend an emergency public meeting of the War Resisters Support Campaign on Wednesday, August 20, at 7:00 p.m. at the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street. The meeting will be followed by a fundraiser at Grossman's Tavern, but the meeting is crucial and urgent.
2. Everywhere in Canada: come out for the September 13 National Day of Action. Check on this blog or at the Campaign website (click on "war resisters" category) for information on local actions or plan an action of your own. The War Resisters Support Campaign can give you materials, connect you with people, and help publicize your event. It's important that we show support for war resisters all across Canada.
3. Raise your voice! Tell Immigration Minister Diane Finley to use her power to stop deportation of war resisters and allow war resisters to stay in Canada. Tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Let The War Resisters Stay!
The Right Hon. Stephen Harper
The Hon. Diane Finley
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / Minister@cic.gc.ca
Here are some pointers for your call:
respect Parliament and implement the June 3 motion in support of war resisters staying in Canada
82% of Canadians oppose the Iraq war
64% of Canadians want war resisters to stay in Canada
Jeremy Hinzman and his family have lived and worked here for over 4 years and made a real contribution; they should not be deported because they oppose the Iraq war
The call will take less than a minute. You only leave a message; there's no confrontation or discussion involved.