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!
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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.
The following videos, and related explanation, were posted to YouTube by Paul Graham
Joshua Key is an American war resister who fought in Iraq and who sought refuge in Canada because of his war experiences. Author of “The Deserter’s Tale,” Joshua told the story of his recruitment into the U.S. Army, the carnage he witnessed in Iraq and his subsequent flight to Canada to an audience in Winnipeg, the first stop on a 13-city tour of western Canada.
Like so many young people, Joshua joined the army to escape a life of poverty and support his family. The Army promised he would remain in the US and learn to build bridges, but the ink on his contract was barely dry when he learned he would be deployed to Iraq. Basic training turned him into a killing machine, but the brutalities of war transformed him into a deserter, a refugee and a peace activist.
As you’ll see from the video I recorded Wednesday evening, Joshua speaks with authority, simplicity, warmth and honesty. He is a man traumatized by what he has seen and done who has bravely stepped forward to resist the monsters who prosecute this war. He deserves and needs our support. If you can, get out to one of the meetings on his tour.
This itinerary is adapted from Paul Graham's blog, September 12, 2009
American war resister Joshua Key began a 13-city tour on September 16, 2009 to seek support for the cause of U.S. war resisters in western Canada.
Joshua is co-author of “The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier who Walked Away from the War in Iraq.”.
Sun Sept 26, 7:00 pm, Okanogan College Kelowna campus, Theatre. Presented
by Kelowna Peace Group firstname.lastname@example.org
Mon Sept 27, 7:00 pm, Okanagan College, Vernon Campus, Room D310. Information: David 250-832-6678
Tues, Sept 29, 7:00 pm, USCC Community Centre. Sponsored by the USCC
Working Group on Peace and Justice and the Boundary Peace Initiative. For more information call 250 442 8252
Wednesday September 30, 7:00 pm, Brilliant Cultural Centre. Sponsored by the USCC Working Group on Peace and Justice and the Kootenay Region Branch
of the United Nations Association in Canada. Info: 250 365 3613 ext 21.
Thur, October 1, 4:00 pm, University of Lethbridge, Students Union Ballroom B, SU Building 3rd fl. (room SU300B). Sponsored by the University of Lethbridge, Students’ Union 403-329-2770
7:00 pm, Lethbridge Public Library, Theatre Gallery, 810 5th Avenue South. Sponsored by the Lethbridge Network for Peace
Fri, October 2, Tentative: Noon, Medicine Hat College
7:00 pm, Unisphere Global Resouce Centre Basmt. 102 – 6th St. S.E.
While most Canadians support war resisters and oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Canadian government hasn’t gotten the message. Josh Key needs and deserves our support. Get out to one of the meetings and tell/bring everyone you can.
This article, by Ciara Byrne, was posted to the star.com, June 3, 2009
A war deserter from the U.S. who fled to Canada was visibly tense Wednesday as he made his case for asylum for a second time, arguing he will face unfair prosecution if sent back to the United States.
Joshua Key told an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing in Toronto that what he was being asked to do in Iraq was "immoral" and it made him question the war he once supported.
"To me it was morally wrong what I was doing to Iraqi civilians," Key told the board member hearing his case. "It very much plays on me, it still plays on me."
Last July, Canada's refugee board was ordered to take another look at Key's case after initially denying him asylum. The Federal Court found the board made mistakes in turning down Key's claim.At the time, Justice Robert Barnes said military misconduct falling short of war crimes may still support a claim of refugee status. Barnes also said actions that degrade or humiliate combatants and non-combatants would also support a claim.
Key and his family fled to Canada in 2003 while on leave after serving in Iraq for eight months as a combat engineer.
On Wednesday, Key said he conducted more than 200 arbitrary raids on ordinary civilians. Soldiers forced men outside of their homes, cuffing them, hooding them and sometimes forcing them to undress, he said.
Roger Gould, tribunal officer for the Immigration and Refugee Board, asked Key why his superior wanted the soldiers to do this.
"To dehumanize," Key replied.
There was a rigid chain of command, which prevented him from bringing his concerns forward because soldiers were often told ``quit complaining or be charged," Key said.
A defence of misconduct or unfair treatment against Iraqi civilians would be inadmissible in a military tribunal, said Key, who added that means he would have no defence if sent back to the U.S.
His decision to publish a book about his experience would further damage any chance of fairness, said Key, who cited other cases of severe punishments for war resisters who spoke to media.
The immigration board member who heard Key's case reserved his decision.
After the hearing, Key seemed relieved.
"I believe in what I did. I don't believe I did anything wrong. I believe sending me back to the United States and punishing me, that's wrong," he said.
Key said he wants to start a new life with his fiancee and new baby in Saskatchewan, where he currently lives.
If his bid to stay is accepted, he'll face yet another challenge.
His ex-wife and four children have returned to the United States and he's not sure when he'll be able to see them again.
"You're worried, you're stressed and you're hoping for the best," Key said.
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 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 article, by Janice Tibbetts and Linda Nguyen, was originally published in the National Post, July 15, 2008
OTTAWA -- In their battle to secure asylum in Canada, U.S. military deserters are being sorted into winning and losing camps by the Federal Court, which some lawyers contend has been inconsistent and confusing in its treatment of war resisters.
In six court decisions in the last two years, there have been four losers and two winners among the first batch of former soldiers to challenge their defeats at the Immigration and Refugee Board.
"We've got a divided court," said Toronto lawyer Geraldine Sadoway, whose client, Justin Colby, recently lost his refugee bid, after fleeing to Canada two years ago following a one-year stint as a medic in Iraq.
Ms. Sadoway says she cannot figure out why the Federal Court rejected Mr. Colby's claim on June 26, only one week before it handed the first ever victory to deserter Joshua Key, who also served in Iraq.
The court ordered the refugee board to reconsider Mr. Key's claim, on the grounds that the U.S. soldier witnessed enough human rights abuses during a stint in Iraq that he could be eligible to qualify for asylum.
Ms. Sadoway attributes the apparently conflicting rulings to the fact that different judges decided the cases and that the court is still trying to find its way in the emerging issue of how to deal with dozens of army deserters whom the refugee board has concluded do not fit the traditional mould for asylum.
Toronto lawyer Jeffry House, who represented Mr. Key, said that one clear difference between the Saskatchewan father and other claimants [except Colby] is that Key served in Iraq and says he witnessed severe human rights abuses during military-condoned home invasions of Iraqi civilians.
"I think that reopens the case for anybody who was in Iraq and whose case was based on that kind of analysis," said House.
Three other military deserters who lost in the Federal Court -- Brandon Huey, Jeremy Hinzman and Robin Long -- were never deployed to the middle-Eastern country. Mr. Long was deported Tuesday, making him the first U.S. soldier to be kicked out of Canada.
"I can confirm that a removal has taken place," said CBSAspokeswoman Shakila Manzoor. She would provide no further details about the deportation.
The 25-year-old filed a refugee claim with the Immigration and Refugee Board in 2005, arguing that he would suffer irreparable harm if he was sent back to the U.S. He also claimed that he would be forced to participate in "war crimes" if he was stationed in Iraq.
Mr. Long has been in CBSA custody since last October, when he was arrested on a Canada-wide warrant at his home in Nelson, B.C., after the board struck down his refugee claim and ordered him out of the country.
His last appeal for refugee status was denied Monday by the Federal Court.
Mr. Long is being transferred to Fort Carson in Colorado, where he will continue with his former unit until it's decided how his case will proceed, said Ryan Brus, a spokesman for Fort Knox, Ky., where Long was stationed before he deserted.
"The unit commander will look at the facts and make a decision about what disciplinary actions will ensue," Mr. Brus said from Kentucky. "A recommendation will be made about what will happen to this soldier."
Messrs. Huey, Hinzman and Long all argued their cases on the grounds that they would face imprisonment if they were returned to the U.S. after deserting the military, a prospect that the court has rejected.
Corey Glass, who deserted the National Guard after his first tour in Iraq, was given a last-minute reprieve by the Federal Court last week to stay in Canada until the court decides whether to hear his appeal of his defeat before the Immigration and Refugee Board.
The court did not give reasons for the stay, so it is unknown whether the decision was based on the Key ruling days earlier.
Alyssa Manning, a Toronto lawyer who represented Mr. Glass, said it is hard to conclude the Federal Court has been all over the map in its decisions thus far, given that each case has been argued on a separate set of facts.
"These cases seem to turn on the quality of the evidence that is being presented before the court," she said.
Ms. Manning acknowledged that the two divergent rulings only eight days apart -- in the Colby and Key cases -- appear to be at odds "when they both raised similar issues."
Less than 40 American soldiers have made refugee claims in Canada, said Karen Shadd, a spokeswoman for the federal Immigration Department. The Toronto-based War Resisters Support Campaign estimates there are about 200 Iraq war dodgers in Canada.
Most cases are still at the Immigration and Refugee Board, which has never accepted a war resister's claim.
This interview, with Corey Glass, was originally broadcast on Canadian Television, July 10, 2008
THOMSON: It's a decision that may set a precedent for US war resisters in Canada. A federal court has granted Corey Glass a stay of deportation while his case is reconsidered. Corey came to Canada after serving in Iraq. He was scheduled to be deported today.
He joins us now in studio, along with Lee Zaslofsky of the War Resisters Support Campaign.
Thank you both for coming in.
So, your reaction when you got word that for now you can stay?
COREY GLASS: I was really excited. But it's really bittersweet because Robin Long is sitting in jail right now, awaiting deportation on Monday.
THOMSON: There are I think 13 listed war resisters that are living in Canada -- that we know about. Tell me about Robin Long.
LEE ZASLOFSKY: Robin Long came to Canada a few years ago. He lives in Nelson, BC. And he got picked up on the fourth of July by the Nelson police because he supposedly broke some bail conditions that he had from a previous immigration thing.
THOMSON: Which was that he was supposed to call and let people know where he was going to reside.
LEE ZASLOFSKY: Yeah, but he did call. So, I'm hoping that the court on Tuesday will release him. I think it's scandalous that Inderjit Singh Reyat gets out while Robin Long sits in jail. I think it's crazy.
THOMSON: Corey, tell me about your reasons for deserting.
COREY GLASS: Well, there's a lot of violations of human rights over there.
THOMSON: In Iraq.
COREY GLASS: Yeah. I can't really get into detail about anything over there because of the nature of my trial. I could face things like treason charges and so on. Desertion charges.
THOMSON: But when you signed up for the military what was it that you thought that you'd be doing?
COREY GLASS: They told me I wouldn't fight -- because we were in Afghanistan at that point -- that I wouldn't fight wars in Afghanistan. That wouldn't be an option. And I would be there to help during floods and hurricanes and tornadoes and things like that.
THOMSON: So, is that realistic when you join the military, that you can I guess choose not to serve in a conflict area?
COREY GLASS: I was under the assumption from my recruiter that the only way we went to war was if there was troops on the ground in America. Because it was the National Guard. So, we were there for the defence of the homeland.
THOMSON: So, you go to Iraq, you serve six months, and you decide probably when you were over there that you wanted out?
COREY GLASS: Yeah.
THOMSON: And then what?
COREY GLASS: I walked in and tried to quit my job. They said: You can't quit, and you're just stressed out because you're doing a job you weren't trained to do and --
THOMSON: Because was it communications you were going to be involved in when you were over there?
COREY GLASS: Yeah, do telephones. I was supposed to do like telephone services and stuff. And I ended up doing military intelligence and battle [inaudible] ... and getting promoted without training to be in charge of soldiers. So, yeah, in worse circumstances --
THOMSON: And without that training did you let your superiors know that you weren't trained for this position?
COREY GLASS: They knew I wasn't trained for it. They knew when they promoted me.
THOMSON: So, why come to Canada?
COREY GLASS: Um, well, I stayed in the States for eight months before I finally decided to do research on desertion and came up with stuff about Vietnam and the 50,000 that came up then. I found out Canada didn't go to Iraq. And I decided -- well, and a few other war resisters were up here at that point.
THOMSON: Lee, you're wearing the T-shirt. And there are some events planned across the country today?
LEE ZASLOFSKY: Yes. Today we're going to have demonstrations both to celebrate the decision in Corey's case and in another case, Joshua Key's case. But also to call on the authorities to release Robin Long immediately. He doesn't deserve to be in jail. He's a gentle, kind fellow. It just seems crazy to me that he's sitting in jail while this Air India guy is walking around.
So, I'm hoping that that will be straightened out on Tuesday when his lawyer goes to court. And in the meantime, we are going to try to put pressure on the government to resolve this whole thing about the war resisters across the board, rather than one court case after another.
LEE ZASLOFSKY: And we really think it's up to the government to do that.
THOMSON: Lee and Corey, thank you both for coming in.
LEE ZASLOFSKY: Well, thank you.
This article, by Maggie Farley, was originally published by the Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2008
When U.S. soldier Corey Glass decided two years ago that he would rather be a criminal for fleeing the Iraq war than be a criminal by staying in it, there was one obvious place to go -- Canada, a refuge for Americans who had fled the Vietnam War draft.
But instead of being welcomed, he became the first deserter to receive orders to leave the country -- and ended up a symbol of Canada's conflicted sentiments about the war.
On Tuesday, Canada's House of Commons passed a motion urging the government to allow deserters to stay. The measure, though nonbinding, could lead to a last-minute reprieve for Glass and nearly 40 others who have asked for refugee status. Perhaps 200 more war dodgers are living in the country unannounced, waiting to see how Canada will ultimately declare itself, the War Resisters Support Campaign says.
Glass, 25, has lived for two years as though ready to bolt, his belongings stuffed in backpacks and boxes in a small Toronto apartment he shares with other resisters. He has fielded death threats and hate-filled e-mails from Americans who consider him a traitor and a coward.
Though pleased by the day's victory, he wonders whether anything can happen before his June 12 deportation deadline that would keep him from being sent back to the U.S., and perhaps to prison.
"Things never end up the way I expect," he said after the Parliament vote. "I didn't think I would end up in Iraq. I didn't think I would be asked to leave Canada. And I didn't think my case would end up here."
Glass joined the National Guard after high school in Fairmount, Ind., in 2002, with assurances that he wouldn't face combat, he said. He thought he would be sandbagging levee banks or quelling riots.
"They told me the only way you'll see war is if foreign troops storm the shores of Florida," he said. "I believed that."
But a year later, the U.S. invaded Iraq, and in 2005 he was sent north of Baghdad and pressed into service as a military intelligence officer.
"There were a lot of things -- crimes -- going on that I can't talk about," he said. "It convinced me that the war was illegal and immoral, and I didn't want to be a part of it."
When Glass told his commanding officer that he couldn't continue fighting in a war that he didn't believe in, he was sent home for a two-week break. He never returned.
After Googling "desertion," Glass found his way to Toronto, to a semi-underground railroad for war resisters run by Lee Zaslofsky, an avuncular 63-year-old who had traveled the same path in 1970 to avoid the Vietnam War.
The Canada of that era was an idealistic place, led by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who declared the country "a refuge from militarism." Zaslofsky applied for residency at the border, and 50,000 to 80,000 other Americans sought sanctuary here.
Although another Liberal government sought to stop the Iraq invasion, present-day conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stood firm with the Bush administration in supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and imprisonments at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But the opposition parties that carried Tuesday's vote, 137-110, over Harper's conservatives are hoping the motion will help persuade the government to accept war resisters.
"Canada has always been a place that welcomes those who seek peace and freedom," said Bob Rae, a Liberal Party member of Parliament. "We want to see it remain that way."
So far, the government seems unmoved.
"The emotion in the House does not change the law in the country," Diane Finley, the minister for citizenship and immigration, said after the vote. "Once someone has gone through the legal process, we expect them to respect the results and leave the country when asked."
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada denied Glass and five others refugee status, ruling that they had not exhausted legal alternatives in the U.S., and would not face persecution if they returned.
But Canada's government, confronted with a swell of support for the resisters, could put a quiet hold on Glass' deportation order, or choose not to immediately carry it out, said Jack Layton, leader of the leftist New Democratic Party, who helped push the motion.
At a post-vote celebration at an Irish pub near Parliament, Glass and dozens of resisters who came from Toronto on a bus hoisted mugs of beer.
There was Phil McDowell, who was discharged, then "stop-lossed," told that he had to go back again. And Linjamin Mull, a social worker from Harlem who joined up because poverty gave him no other choice. And Josh Keys, who fled to Canada with his wife and three children without bidding his mother goodbye, and still has violent nightmares.
All are in legal limbo.
"We used to joke about who is going to be the first to be deported," Mull said.