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Thursday, October 09, 2008
How the Canadian Government Deported an
Iraq War Resister to Prison in the U.S.
The Fourth of July, 2008, was a momentous day for U.S. war resisters in Canada. While their families in the U.S. were celebrating the Independence Day holiday, Iraq war resisters won an important legal victory – their first since they began arriving in Canada four-and-half years ago. A Federal Court ruled that Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) had wrongfully denied refugee status to Joshua Key, an Iraq veteran from Guthrie, Oklahoma. Key arrived in Canada four years ago with his wife and four children after deciding he could not return to the war.
While in Iraq, Joshua Key had participated in nearly 100 home invasions. As an Army engineer, Key’s job was to blow down the front doors of family homes with plastic explosives so that heavily armed soldiers could rush inside. In his best-selling book, The Deserter’s Tale, Joshua Key provides a detailed look at these home invasions. He also told the Refugee Board how U.S. soldiers would terrorize Iraqi families in these middle-of-the-night raids. The extremely loud explosions would shock the families out of their sleep. Terror-stricken women and children would watch in horror as all the family’s males who appeared 15 years or older were arrested and trucked off to uncertain fates in U.S. Army prisons. Soldiers then ransacked the homes and looted the families’ valuables.
Canadian Judge Rules U.S. Army’s Home Invasions Violate Geneva Conventions
Federal Court Justice Robert Barnes ruled that these raids were probable violations of the Geneva Conventions against the abuse of civilians during wartime. The Refugee Board was wrong, said Judge Barnes, to deny Joshua Key refugee status on the narrow grounds that the home invasions did not fit the legal definition of war crimes.
Military action that "systematically degrades, abuses or humiliates" either combatants or noncombatants should be taken into consideration in refugee claims, Barnes wrote. He ordered the Refugee Board to re-hear Joshua Key’s claim for refugee status in Canada.
"It's quite a statement," Key said. "It makes us feel good — probably everybody within this whole process."
Court Ruling May Help U.S. War Resisters in Canada
In turning down similar asylum claims, the Refugee Board has consistently held that the United States is a democracy, which affords absentee soldiers due process. However, the Court said that the board should hear evidence on whether deserters can rely on the American government to treat them fairly.
Key's lawyer, Jeffry House, said the ruling may help the cases others refugee claimants, particularly those who are veterans of the war in Iraq. "It's a huge victory for numerous soldiers who are here and maybe others who are thinking of coming here," House said.
About two hundred U.S. war resisters are estimated to be in Canada. Many of them remain “under the radar,” as do thousands of AWOL GI’s in the U.S. Nearly fifty war resisters are seeking to remain in Canada as refugees who would be persecuted for their political beliefs if returned to the United States.
Not All Was Well on the Fourth of July
While the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto was celebrating the good news on the Fourth of July, something ominous was occurring over two thousand miles away in Canada’s westernmost province. In the idyllic little town of Nelson, nestled in the Kootenay Mountains of southeastern British Columbia, Canadian immigration police were arresting Robin Long, another U.S. war resister. Agents of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) claimed that Long, a refugee claimant, had violated Canadian immigration laws by failing to report his change of address. Nelson police and the CBSA knew well that Robin Long was living in Nelson, where he had no fixed address, but was “couch surfing” at the homes of friends. The Immigration police told Long that he had been ordered deported. He would not be allowed to appeal.
Canadian Police Acted Illegally in Arresting War Resister
The rationale for Long’s arrest was suspect, as was its timing. Several recent Canadian polls had revealed that almost two-thirds of Canadians want U.S. war resisters to enjoy a safe haven in Canada. And on June 3rd, Canada’s House of Commons had passed a motion calling on the government to halt all deportation proceedings and allow war resisters to immigrate. Unfortunately, however, the motion was not legally binding, and the Conservative government seemed determined to defy the will of the Canadian people and Parliament.
The vote in the House of Commons was precipitated by a crisis, and the Iraq War resisters struggle to remain in Canada was coming to a head. Corey Glass, a veteran of the war in Iraq, had been ordered to leave Canada by July 10 or face deportation. War resisters and their supporters organized protest actions throughout Canada and the U.S. The War Resisters Support Campaign was able to claim a temporary victory on July 9 when a Federal Court granted Corey Glass a stay of his deportation in order to consider his request to appeal negative decisions against him. The Federal Court of Canada has since granted him “leave to appeal.”
One in the Hand Is Better than Two in the Bush
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who argued fruitlessly five years ago that Canada should join George Bush’s invasion of Iraq, was eager to deliver the first deportation of an Iraq War resister. The order to arrest Robin Long came from the top. It was Harper’s insurance policy. If he couldn’t deport Glass, he would deport Long.
While the Canada Border Services Agency shuttled Robin Long from one prison to another, keeping him isolated from friends and supporters, a last-ditch attempt to stop his deportation was mounted by Vancouver lawyer, Shepherd Moss. A hearing was scheduled in Federal Court in Vancouver for Monday morning, July 14. But Robin Long’s luck ran out when his case was assigned to Judge Anne McTavish, the author of damaging decisions against Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, the first two GIs to seek refugee status in Canada.
Canadian authorities had failed to inform Long of his pending deportation, thus denying him his right to appeal. But Judge McTavish refused to delay Long's deportation. The legal reasons for Corey Glass’s were not yet published and could potentially apply to Long. Such was the rush to deport a war resister, however, that Judge McTavish was willing to risk having opposing court decisions on the same issue, within a one week period.
“Here, we’ve got a deserter for you.”
Robin Long was not allowed to attend his own hearing and he was not informed of its outcome. Instead, on the morning of Tuesday, July 15, Canadian immigration police drove him to Canada’s border with the U.S. near Blaine, Washington, and loudly announced to their U.S. counterparts, “Here, we’ve got a deserter for you.”
Stephen Harper and the Bush Administration got what they wanted, international headlines trumpeting, “Canada Deports U.S. Deserter.”
The Canadian people learned about the deportation of Robin Long from sketchy media reports. The Canada Border Services Agency, citing “the Privacy Act,” refused to give the media any details. How was the deportation carried out? Where did it occur? Who handed Robin Long over to whom? Where was Long held in Canada? Where was he being held in the U.S.?
The Privacy Act, enacted to protect the privacy of individuals, was abused by the Conservative government in order to isolate Robin Long and keep Canadians in the dark. Why didn’t the Conservative government want Canadians to know the details of this deportation? The word “deportation” connotes an unfortunate but orderly and lawful procedure. What Canadian and U.S. authorities did to Robin Long was more like a “rendition,” an extralegal government-to-government kidnapping supposedly reserved for terror suspects. Canadians will be outraged when they hear the truth.
War Resister Assaulted and Threatened in Canadian Jails
Robin Long was arrested unlawfully on false grounds and for political reasons. He was held incommunicado. Over a ten-day period, he was transferred to three different Canadian jails. In the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, Long was assaulted twice by a group of prisoners who objected to his dreadlock hairstyle. Although he is short and slight, Long was able to fight off his attackers once, and a guard halted the second assault. But Long decided to cut his hair.
In the North Frasier Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam, Long was forced to share a double-bunk with a violent murder suspect. After lying down in the top bunk, Long felt a sharp punch through the mattress. And he heard an angry voice below, “You better not fuckin’ sleep or I’ll fuckin’ slit your throat!” Long did not sleep that night. This is what happened in Canada to a nonviolent opponent of the U.S. war in Iraq.
After CBSA police rudely turned him over at the border, U.S. authorities confined Long in a makeshift cell for six hours without access to food, water or toilet. He was then transferred to the Whatcom County Jail in Bellingham, a 30-minute drive south into Washington State. Long’s friends and supporters tried desperately to learn of his whereabouts. Only by calling around to all the jails in the region did the War Resisters Support Campaign manage to locate him.
Upon learning that a war resister was jailed in their town, Bellingham peace activists went into action. The Whatcom Peace and Justice Center called for an evening vigil, along with Sanctuary City, a student-led effort to welcome war resisters to Bellingham. Instead of waiting for the evening vigil, some supporters headed straight to the jail. That afternoon Long was transferred again, before the scheduled vigil. But as he was being driven away from the jail, he spotted two people holding signs reading, “Free Robin Long,” and “Support War Resisters.” This was Long’s first indication that any supporters knew where he was. His spirits were lifted considerably.
Civilian police from Fort Lewis delivered Long to a jail in the tiny town of Buckley near Mt. Rainier. Under contract with Fort Lewis, the Buckley jail was holding several Army prisoners. Some were awaiting court martial on a variety of charges. One was serving a sentence for being AWOL. The Fort Lewis brig was closed down. Apparently, all the soldiers trained as prison guards are needed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Robin Long Looked Like a Prisoner at Guantanamo
With the help of attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild, this writer, an advocate for war resisters, was able to track Robin Long to the Buckley jail and arrange to see him. Long was brought out wearing an orange jumpsuit, not uncommon in U.S. jails, yet reminiscent of images from Guantanamo. Indeed, Robin Long was now a prisoner in George Bush’s “war on terror.”
We were the first visitors Robin Long had seen during his incarceration and abuse in six different jails in Canada and the U.S. He appeared frightened at first. We had not met before and he did not know what to expect. When he realized we were friends, Robin Long breathed a huge sigh of relief. For the first time in two weeks, he was able to let down his guard and show some emotion.
We visited with Robin Long for one hour in a cramped jail cell. He told us of the abuse he had suffered in Canadian jails and after his deportation to the U.S. Long knew he was headed for prison. But he told us he had no regrets – he would do it all over again if he had to. He was clear and strong in his opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq. He was very happy when we gave him a copy of Joshua Key’s book, The Deserter’s Tale. He had been eager to read it, he said.
Robin Long’s primary concern was his relationship with his two-year-old son in Canada. The parting shot of CBSA police at the border had been: “You will not be allowed to return to Canada for ten years, and then only with special permission.” The thought of being separated indefinitely from his son hurt him a lot.
Long had been a vegetarian for long time. But he was forced to eat meat (or nothing) in both Canadian and U.S. jails. Vegetarian meals are provided only to prisoners who require them for religious or medical reasons, not to vegetarians-by-choice. The sudden change in Long’s diet left him constipated until, finally, a Buckley jailer got a laxative for him. Long said he and his fellow prisoners were receiving less than 1000 calories of food per day. He asked us to bring him apples, bananas and vitamin C when we returned the next day.
But before his visitors could with fruit, Long was transferred yet again. This time he was headed to Fort Carson, Colorado, where he would be court-martialed for desertion. Fort Carson, like Fort Lewis, was contracting out its incarceration function. So, on Friday, July 18, two weeks after his arrest in Nelson, British Columbia, Long arrived at his seventh jail, the notorious El Paso County Jail in Colorado Springs.
The Swift Injustice of the U.S. Army
The Army moved with uncharacteristic speed to court martial Robin Long. Army prosecutors threatened Long with a three-year jail sentence if he did not make their job easy by pleading guilty to desertion. Convinced the Army’s threats were for real, Long and his lawyer, James Branum, decided to accept the plea bargain. In exchange for his guilty plea, Long would be imprisoned for no more than fifteen months, hopefully less. The court martial was scheduled for Friday, August 22.
The court martial was packed with Long’s supporters, including members from Iraq Veterans Against the War
Army prosecutors played a taped interview of Robin Long expressing his antiwar views in Canada. Because Long had already pled guilty to desertion, there was no need to prove his intent. The prosecutors introduced Long’s public statements so that he would receive a substantial sentence, arguing that Long had "abandoned his duty, his honor and his country."
The presiding military judge, Col. Debra Boudreau, was sufficiently impressed. She sentenced Long to thirty months in prison and a Dishonorable Discharge, and expressed her disappointment that the plea bargain would limit him to serving only fifteen months.
When Long stepped out of the courtroom, he was who cheered on loudly, even while military police pushed his supporters across the street.
“It sets a very chilling precedent –
“I think it was a long sentence but it was positive that he got his day in court and got to speak up and say what he believed,” said Long’s lawyer, James Branum. “His spirits were relatively good. Having two war resisters show up at his trial meant a lot to him.”
Matthis Chiroux, an Army journalist who refused orders to re-deploy to Iraq, testified on Long’s behalf, as did Ann Wright, a former U.S. Army colonel who resigned from her State Department job in 2003 to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Col. Wright expressed her disappointment at the steep verdict. “It sets a very chilling precedent that someone who is brought back gets the book thrown at them. I hope the Canadian government recognizes that.”
Robin Long Talks with Courage To Resist
After the court martial, Long taped a telephone interview with activists at Courage To Resist, which had rallied support for him and raised money for his legal expenses.
“All in all on the day of the trial, I had a very good day. I got to tell the Army and the world exactly as I felt. With my defense case – the testimony of Col. Ann Wright and the other witnesses – we basically got a say to a forum and an audience that normally wouldn’t hear the things we were saying – about the illegality of the war in Iraq and following your conscience and international law, a higher duty…. It felt really good to say those things and to let people know that they can say those things and follow their heart.
“I enjoyed all the support that was there – all of the people who came to see. It was kind of funny, when I was leaving they rushed me into a humvee. They had the military police escort in front and behind. They stopped traffic at all the intersections. And when I was leaving, a lot of the supporters were saluting me – that felt really good.
“I’m glad that it’s me, and not somebody else.”
Long told Courage To Resist that he is prepared for prison. “I’m thankful that in my life, the things I’ve chosen to do, I got the tools and the training to have inner peace. I’m thankful that it’s me and not somebody ewho wouldn’t have those tools to be in this position – I’m thankful that it’s me and not somebody else. I can do my time – live every day one day at a time.
“When I come out, I’ll start speaking for peace again and my words will be that much more powerful. I can talk now in the States… Hopefully, we can end this occupation – this war.”
But he was distressed about not being a able to see his friends and family in Canada. "I have a son I won't be able to see. It's kind of hard to think about that.”
Long reported having received nearly 300 letters “from all over the U.S., from Canada, from Great from Britain, from Germany, from South Africa, from Australia, from New Zealand, from the Philipines, and from Switzerland.”
Col. Ann Wright believes the outcome of the court martial would have been far worse if Long had not received such overwhelming support. “Once soldiers are returned to military control, it is in the best interest of everyone if there is support for war resisters.”
War Resisters Are Persecuted for Speaking Their Beliefs
Long’s fifteen-month jail sentence is the longest yet for a GI who went AWOL during the Iraq War. But it is identical to the 2005 sentence of Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman, a ten-year veteran who refused to deploy to Iraq and spoke publicly against the war.
Once they are captured or turn themselves in, most AWOL GIs are either: 1) re-integrated into their units and prepared to go to war, 2) given less-than-honorable discharges “for the good of the service,” or 3) given jail sentences of no more than a few months. But those who have publicly opposed the war, like the war resisters in Canada, have been much more likely to be court-martialed and given long prison sentences.
As Col. Ann Wright wrote recently for Truthout, even soldiers who have been convicted in the pre-medicated murder of civilians in Iraq are not punished as severely as outspoken war resisters:
On September 18, 2008, the US Army sentenced Specialist Belmor Ramos to seven months in prison, demotion to private and a dishonorable discharge for standing guard from a turret in a Humvee while three others in his unit, the First Infantry Division, bound, blindfolded, shot in the heads and dumped the bodies of four unidentified Iraqi men into a Baghdad canal … in retaliation for deaths in Ramos' unit. According to Associated Press reports, during the court-martial, Ramos admitted his guilt: "I wanted them dead. I had no legal justification or excuse to do this."
Dishonorable Discharge: A Life Sentence of Discrimination
The Dishonorable discharges that have been given to Robin Long, Kevin Benderman, Camilo Mejia and other war resisters are equivalent to felony convictions, and normally reserved for serious crimes. A Dishonorable discharge is a life sentence to discrimination in employment and many other areas of life. As with many countries, Canada bars entry to convicted felons, including veterans with Dishonorable discharges. Robin Long may never be allowed to visit his son in Canada. This will be his ongoing punishment for refusing to join in the aggressive U.S. war against the people of Iraq.
Canada’s Refugee Board members and Federal Court judges have erred seriously in determining that war resisters do not face persecution in the U.S. They are equally wrong when they assume that the U.S. military and judicial system will deal fairly with those who declare themselves to be Conscientious Objectors. Aside from being pressured by superior officers, Conscientious Objector applicants report being harassed, beaten and even sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers.
“Please don’t call me a Conscientious Objector,” said Jimmy Massey, a former Marine recruiter and Iraq veteran who came to oppose the war. “In the Marines, that’s like a death sentence.”
Next in Harper’s Sights: Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart and Families
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government are now training their fire on Jeremy Hinzman, the first Iraq War resister to seek refugee status in Canada. Private Hinzman, his wife Nga Nguyen, and their 1-year-old son Liam arrived in Toronto in January 2004 after his 82nd Airborne unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina was ordered to Iraq. Hinzman, a veteran of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, had offered to go to war in a non-combat role. But the Army staged a heavily biased hearing in the Afghanistan war zone, and wrongfully denied Hinzman’s request for Conscientious Objector status.
Hinzman’s wife recently gave birth to a baby girl, Meghan, who by virtue of being born in Canada, is a Canadian citizen. Liam Hinzman, now 6-years-old, knows only Canada, where he has lived since he was one. But Hinzman and his entire family were ordered to leave Canada by September 23 or face deportation.
Last Minute Reprieve for Jeremy Hinzman
One day before his government-imposed deadline for departing from Canada, Jeremy Hinzman received a reprieve. A Federal Court judge ruled he would face irreparable harm if he were deported before the Court was able to consider his request to appeal. But Hinzman’s situation remains dire, along with at least eight other Iraq War resisters in Canada.
Robin Long and Jeremy Hinzman have one thing in common: because they would not kill other human beings in what is clearly an imperialist war, they are being treated like criminals. Robin Long’s treatment at the hands of the Canadian and U.S. authorities should make it clear that war resisters are indeed being persecuted because of their political and religious beliefs.
If Canadian authorities deport Jeremy Hinzman, he will also be court-martialed and convicted of desertion. He will be taken away from his wife, Nga, and his young children, Liam and Meghan, to serve a lengthy prison sentence.
Iraq Veteran Ordered To Leave Canada by October 30
On Wednesday, October 8, former Sgt. Patrick Hart was told that he and his family will be deported to the U.S. if they do not leave Canada by October 30. Hart, who served nine years in the U.S. Army and took part in the invasion of Iraq, moved to Canada in 2005 with his wife, Jill, and son Rian. On the verge of another deployment to Iraq, he decided that he could not continue to take part in “an illegal and unwarranted military occupation.”
According to Michelle Robidoux of the War Resisters Support Campaign, Hart is asking officials to defer his deportation until January 1. “He’s got a son in Grade 1 who just started school,” Robidoux told the Toronto Star. “He wants him to finish the term.”
Several other war resisters in line to be deported are also parents. One of them, Kimberly Rivera, is the mother of two young children. Must these children be denied the loving presence of their mothers and fathers? Must they suffer because their parents refused to commit murder? What is wrong with this picture?
Will Federal Election Help War Resisters?
Stephen Harper does not seem concerned. Not about ignoring the wishes of two-thirds of Canadians and defying the will of Parliament. Not about taking fathers and mothers away from young children. Not about treating conscientious objectors like criminals.
Harper must be feeling downright cocky. He has dissolved the Parliament and called a Federal election. He must think that Canadians are not paying attention. But when they cast their votes on October 14, may they remember Harper’s shameful treatment of Iraq War resisters. Indeed, many Canadians believe it is time for the Harper government, like the Bush Administration it emulates, to exit stage right.
At the outset of the five-week national campaign, Harper’s Conservatives were polling fairly well against a divided opposition, and were hoping to return to power with a majority government. But in the final days before the election, Conservative support was being sapped by Canadian concerns about the worldwide economic crisis.
Regardless of who forms the next Canadian government, the legal and political struggle for sanctuary for war resisters will continue. But war resisters will certainly fare better if Harper and his Conservatives are ousted from power. It is Stephen Harper who is responsible for the extraordinary rendition of Robin Long. And it is Stephen Harper who seems determined to deport Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart, and Kimberly Rivera.
“I feel as if I was a pawn, a gift from one regime to another (Harper to Bush).”
Robin Long Writes from Prison
For my Canadian friends, and people I don’t know: Stop this! Fight this! Don’t let another conscientious objector, war resister, person of conscience and morals to be deported.
For my fellow Americans: Keep courageously driving on to stop this war and undo the mess that the last 8 years of Bush has brought to our great country. I have received many letters of support. We are strong! We can be an example. We can spread the word and mobilize and protest the atrocities.
Peace love light
Robin’s favorite quotes:
“A soldier is just a uniform following orders. A warrior is a person who stands up for what is right even in the face of adversity.”
“Those that can get you to believe absurdities, can get you to commit atrocities!” - Voltaire
Write to Robin at
Courage To Resist will print and mail your message to Robin. If you wish to correspond with Robin directly, include your mailing address and ask him to add you to his "approved mail list". You can also contribute to Robin's brig account that he uses to pay for phone calls to friends and family.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Read this important article by Col. Ann Wright.
And redouble your efforts to defend Jeremy Hinzman and all war resisters.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
By jmb | September 6, 2008
Robin Long, the US soldier to be forcibly deported (in all practical terms extradited) from Canada, after previously fleeing to Canada to resist war, has been moved from the Criminal Justice Center (aka El Paso County jail) in Colorado Springs, CO. He is now being held at the:
Miramar Naval Consolidated Brig in San Diego, CA
Robin would love mail from supporters. It can be sent to him at:
PO BOX 452136
SAN DIEGO, CA 92145-2136
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
International Radio Program Features U.S. War Resisters in Canada
In its weekly show on September 5, he radio program, Soundprint, produced by WAMU public radio in Washington, DC, focused on U.S. war resisters in Canada. The half-hour show, called Something’s Happening Here, was produced by Bob Carly of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It features interviews with Iraq War resister Jeremy Hinzman, war resister lawyer Jeffry House, Vietnam War resisters Bill King and his wife Kris, among others.
This show is quite interesting from a historical point of view and well worth listening to. But it is apparently an older documentary, surprisingly out-of-date. It makes no mention of the recent deportation of war resister Robin Long or the threatened deportation of Jeremy Hinzman and his family.
The Soundprint website includes links to books by Vietnam War resisters Dick Perrin and John Hagan. It also links to the website of the War Resisters Support Campaign. Links are also provided to websites purported to be those of Iraq War resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. However, this is does not appear to be Hinzman’s website, but rather a domain name up for sale. And in the case of Brandon Hughey’s old website, Google Ads has generously placed recruitment ads for the U.S. Army. Go figure….
Good News for Corey Glass
Corey Glass, Iraq War veteran and resister, has married his Canadian sweetheart. And he has been given “leave to appeal” negative decisions made in his Pre-Removal Risk Assessment and the denial of his request to immigrate to Canada on “humanitarian and compassionate” grounds. Glass was on the verge of being deported from Canada in early July. It is hoped that Jeremy Hinzman and family, who have been ordered to leave Canada by September 23 or face deportation, will also be allowed to appeal negative decisions against them.
Stop the Deportations! -- Pan-Canadian Day of Action
In the meantime, the War Resisters Support Campaign is gearing up for a Pan-Canadian Day of Action on September 13, to press the Canadian government to respect the will of the Canadian people and Parliament by allowing U.S. war resisters to immigrate to Canada. To see the impressive list of participating cities, go to http://www.resisters.ca/september13.html.
Now is the time to do all we can to stop these pending deportations and to press the Canadian government to provide sanctuary for U.S. war resisters. There is plenty that people in both Canada and the U.S. can do. While the battle is in Canada, it is important that the Canadian government know that people in the U.S. support the war resisters and want an end to all deportation proceedings. See http://www.resisters.ca/actions.html
Screen War Resister Film Breaking Ranks
In conjunction with the Pan-Canadian Day or Action, filmmaker Michelle Mason is arranging showings of her award winning film, Breaking Ranks, an in-depth look at four Iraq War resisters in Canada, including Jeremy Hinzman who is now fighting the prospect of imminent deportation. September 14 showings of Breaking Ranks are taking place in cities across Canada. For more information, contact Michelle Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to arrange a showing with a speaker in the U.S., contact Gerry Condon at email@example.com.
Robin Long Speaks
Robin Long, the first (and hopefully the last) Iraq War resister to be deported by the Conservative government of Canada, has been sentenced to 15 months n a military prison and a Dishonorable Discharge. For more information, and to hear his post-sentencing interview with Courage To Resist, go to www.couragetoresist.org.
Will Pending Federal Election in Canada Help War Resisters?
The Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to dissolve the Parliament in the coming days, paving the way for a federal election in Canada. With 64% of the Canadian people wanting to provide sanctuary for U.S. war resisters, this could become a significant issue in the campaign, along with the fact that the Conservatives have defied the will of the Parliament.
But many Canadians consider the Liberal Party leadership to be weak, and the Conservatives have, unfortunately, gained some legitimacy as a credible ruling party. And, while left and liberal forces are divided among four parties, conservatives are now united in a single party. Political pundits in Canada think the outcome of the election is a toss-up. But the possibility of another minority Conservative government looms large. Hopefully this outcome, or worse – a Conservative majority government – can be averted. At any rate, now is the time for all those who support U.S. war resisters to be making a whole lot of noise.
Support for War Resisters is Growing in the U.S.
Support for war resisters in the United States is growing, due in no small part to the leadership of Courage To Resist, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, and others. The Campus Antiwar Network carried a large banner reading Support War Resisters in a recent protest march at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
This War Resister Update was compiled by Gerry Condon for Project Safe Haven, which is badly in need of funds in order to continue its work in support of war resisters. Please consider making a donation today.
Tax-deductible checks can be made out to Alliance for Global Justice (or AFGJ), with Project Safe Haven in the memo line, and mailed to Gerry Condon, 3233 Walnut Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98116.
Or credit card donations can be made online at http://www.nicanet.org/?page_id=341. If you make a credit card donation, or decide to mail your check directly to AFGJ, please also notify Gerry Condon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions, please contact Gerry Condon at 206-499-1220.
Soldier Say No / Project Safe Haven
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 07, 2008
For more information on his case and how you can support Robin Long, go to the website of Courage To Resist, couragetoresist.org/x/content/view/609/1/
To help stop deportation proceedings against other U.S. war resisters in Canada, please visit the website of the War Resisters Support Campaign, resisters.ca/index_en.html
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
U.S. war resister Robin Long will be deported back to the U.S. tomorrow, Tuesday, July 15.
The same Federal judge who ruled against war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey would not grant Robin Long a stay of his deportation order, even though he was denied his legal right to appeal it.
Supporters in Washington state and British Columbia will gather at Peace Arch Park beginning at 9 am Tuesday morning.
The wire services will no doubt say this is the end of the road for U.S. war resisters in Canada. Already this week we have seen headlines such as “Canada no longer safe haven for deserters.” But that is not at all the case.
Two out of three Canadians want Canada to be a safe haven for war resisters. So does the Canadian parliament, which passed a motion on June 3 calling on the government to allow war resisters to immigrate to Canada. And on July 4, a Federal judge in Canada, citing the Geneva Conventions against the wartime abuse of civilians, ruled that the Refugee Board was wrong to deny refugee status to Iraq veteran Joshua Key.
Most importantly, U.S. war resisters will continue to come to Canada, where they will continue to be able to apply for refugee status and where they will continue to find support from the War Resisters Support Campaign (See their press release below in this email or go to www.resisters.ca).
The deportation of Robin Long, far from being the end of our struggle, will further isolate the minority Conservative government and force a change, in its policy toward war resisters or in the government itself, in the not too distant future.
Now is the time to UP THE STRUGGLE and express our outrage.
Project Safe Haven is joining with the War Resisters Support Campaign in Vancouver in calling on war resister supporters to gather at Peace Arch Park on the US-Canada border between Vancouver, British Columbia and Seattle, Washington tomorrow, Tuesday, July 14, beginning at 9 am.
This may well be the crossing where Robin Long will be handed over to U.S. authorities. Even if not, it is a perfect place for people from both sides of the border to gather in peace and express their solidarity with all who obey international law and refuse to be party to illegal wars and war crimes.
You do not need travel documents, or to go through the border crossing hassle. Just go to the parking lots on either side of the border and walk into this international park. If you cannot make it to Peace Arch Park tomorrow, please find another way to express your outrage to the Canadian government and your solidarity with war resisters. One way to do so would be to send donations to the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada (www.resisters.ca) or to Project Safe Haven in the U.S. (www.soldiersayno.blogspot.com).
This struggle will continue and we will win! Resisting an unjust war is the right thing to do.
for peace and justice,
Soldier Say No / Project Safe Haven
WAR RESISTERS SUPPORT CAMPAIGN
Mon., July 14, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Canadian government’s single-minded determination
to deny legitimacy of conscientious objection denounced
Robin Long must leave Canada
Toronto/CNW – Today’s Federal Court decision refusing to prevent the removal ofconscientious objector Robin Long is a major disappointment for the majority of
Canadians, 64% of whom support sanctuary for U.S. soldiers seeking refuge here.
It is also at odds with the passage of June 3rd Parliamentary motion calling for the opportunity for conscientious objectors to apply for permanent resident status, and an end to all deportations.
“The federal government’s single-minded determination to deny the legitimacy of
conscientious objection to what is plainly an illegal war rife with human rights abuses is abhorrent. Robin himself has been harassed by authorities by being arrested for violating a deportation order of which neither he nor his counsel were ever advised,” says Lee Zaslofsky. spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign.
“He’s been held in jail since July 4 and treated with disrespect by our government which seems intent on imposing American military law in Canada.”
Canadian Immigration authorities – who report to Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration Diane Finley – had kept secret a negative decision on Robin’s Pre-Removal Risk Assessment, making it impossible for his lawyer to file an appeal.
“We have received hundreds of messages of support for Robin,” says Bob Ages of the Vancouver War Resisters Support Campaign.
“We are calling on Canadians to take immediate action to tell the government that its attempts to overturn Canada’s longstanding tradition of sanctuary will be met with challenges everywhere.”
The War Resisters Support Campaign pledges to redouble its efforts on behalf of all conscientious objectors. It will follow Robin’s case, as will U.S. support organizations.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Lee Zaslofsky, 416.598.1222/ 416.369-0864
Bob Ages, 604.760.6786.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Well, we had a great day overall! Thanks to the united efforts of many folks, we succeeded in mounting actions at the Canadian Embassy and Consulates in 14 U.S. cities! The reports from the various cities are still trickling in. There were reportedly 60 people at the vigil in New York, 50 in San Francisco, “50 some” in Chicago, and respectable showings elsewhere. There was significant media coverage of these vigils in both the U.S. and Canada. Veterans For Peace president Elliott Adams was interviewed on Canadian Broadcasting Corp. television this morning and CBC covered the vigil in Washington too. Associated Press showed up at several rallies. We had local TV and radio coverage here in Seattle, along with AP and Free Speech Radio News. And the beat goes on.
Thanks to the collaboration of Courage to Resist, Veterans For Peace and Project Safe Haven, these were easily the largest nationally coordinated actions in the U.S. on behalf of our war resisters in Canada.
And we gained another victory today! Corey Glass will not be deported anytime soon. A Federal Court in Canada granted him a stay of his deportation, at least for several months while his lawyers are given a chance to appeal earlier negative rulings.
This is related to the legal victory of Joshua Key on the 4th of July. According to the Federal Court, the regular abuse of Iraq civilians at the hands of the U.S. military are systematic violations of the Geneva Conventions, and should be a basis for granting refugee status. The mobilizations being coordinated between Canada and the U.S. are definitely creating positive momentum. And time seems to be on our side.
But now we are faced with another emergency! The police in Nelson, British Columbia are at it again, along with the Canada Border Services Agency. Yesterday, while all eyes were on Corey Glass, they arrested another U.S. war resister, Robin Long, for supposed violations immigration law. They threatened to deport Long immediately, but Canadian Immigration, under legal and political pressure, have given Long’s lawyer until Monday to file for a stay of deportation. Neither Robin Long nor his lawyer had been informed of plans to deport him, and thus he was denied his legal right to appeal.
So vigilance and political pressure remains important. To counteract their apparent eagerness to hand a war resister over as a prize to George Bush, the minority Conservative government needs to know that people in the U.S. and Canada are still paying attention.
Tomorrow is a National Day of Action in Canada. There will be rallies in several Canadian cities, including Vancouver, from where Robin Long could be deported as early as Tuesday. And people will continue to barrage the government with phone calls and emails.
We in the U.S. can continue to generate phone calls and emails to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Immigration Minister Diane Finley (See alert and contact information from the War Resisters Support Campaign, below).
And those of us who did not actually send delegations in to meet with the Canadian Consuls should consider doing so by next Monday or Tuesday (and later too). The more Consulates that have to report to their government, the better. Consider broad-based delegations.
The letter sent by Canadian religious leaders might serve as a good model for religious leaders in the U.S. (See also below.)
Tomorrow morning I will be interviewed on CBC Radio in Vancouver for 15 minutes. They are most interested to know what kind of punishment awaits Robin Long if he is handed over to the U.S. Army. I will tell them that those AWOL resisters who are the most vocal, including those who go to Canada, are most likely to face persecution – harassment, court martial, imprisonment and less-than-honorable discharges. A bad discharge can be a life sentence of job discrimination, and keep someone from having access to healthcare, which means something to Canadians.
The question of what amounts to “persecution” will be the next legal and political battleground for Joshua Key, Corey Glass, Robin Long and nearly 200 U.S. war resisters in Canada. At least, until the government decides to follow the will of the Canadian people and Parliament...
By the way, there will probably be a federal election in Canada in the fall. The Liberal Party, who now are solidly on the record supporting war resisters, could form the next government.
Please check out the following alert and reports from the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada. Or go to their website, www.resisters.ca.
And keep on keepin’ on!
for peace and justice,
Federal Court grants stay of removal to Corey Glass!
Robin Long still facing deportation on July 14th In another positive decision for U.S. war resisters in Canada, Corey Glass was granted a stay of removal by the Federal Courty today. While not reasons for the decision have been issued yet, it reinforces the positive decision in Joshua Key's asylum case issued on Friday, July 4th.However War Resister Robin Long is still being held in jail in Nelson, B.C. and is threatened with deportation to the United States on Monday, July 14th. (See press release)July 10th actions are planned across the country to stop the deportation proceedings against Robin Long and let all the war resisters stay!
This is a critical week in the campaign to win asylum for Iraq War resisters in Canada. In spite of a Parliamentary motion calling on the federal government to allow war resisters to stay; in spite of a positive court decision in Joshua Key's refugee case which calls into question the decisions made by the Immigration and Refugee Board in these cases; and in spite of overwhelming public opinion in support of permanent resident status for war resisters, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Diane Finley appear set to act against the wishes of Canadians and deport Robin Long.
Robin is the first of a growing number of Iraq war resisters facing removal proceedings. Every action taken between now and July 15th can make a big difference to the fate of Robin and all the other war resisters in Canada. Please take the time to make as many phone calls, send as many emails and write as many letters as you can, and then join an action on July 10th.
Let the government know that it is time they start representing the will of Canadians and stop acting as the enforcement arm of the Bush administration.
What you can do:
Call and email Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Call and email Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley.
If you're Canadian and your riding is represented by a Conservative MP, please contact her or him to express your support for war resisters. To find contact information, click here.
Write letters to your local newspaper. Demand that Diane Finley and Stephen Harper to respect the will of Parliament and Canadians and let the war resisters stay!
Join the protests on Thursday, July 10. Events will be taking place in cities across Canada. Watch our events page for an action in your area.
"Thank You Canada" from U.S. Veterans for Peace
TORONTO/CNW – The major U.S. organization representing 7,000 U.S. veterans has issued a public “Thank You” to the people of Canada and an appeal to the government on behalf of Corey Glass and other U.S. Iraq War conscientious objectors seeking refuge.Veterans for Peace (VFP) whose members fought in WW II, the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars says: “Thank you, Canada, for providing a safe haven for young American men and women who, although they were in the military, decided they could not in good conscience participate in the illegal and immoral U.S. war and occupation of Iraq.” Read the full press release
Appeal from Canada's faith communities to the government of Canada
Dear Prime Minister Harper and Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley:
Re: Iraq War resister Corey Glass: July 10 deportation looming
We are writing to request your quick action to stop the deportation and removal proceedings against U.S. Iraq War conscientious objector Corey Glass who came to Canada seeking refuge.The federal government’s July 10 deportation order against Glass is still in effect, creating enormous stress, anxiety and turmoil for him and for all the conscientious objectors and their families who are hoping the government will be guided by the will of Parliament. This was expressed June 3rd with the passage of a landmark parliamentary motion that called on the Government of Canada to allow U.S. conscientious objectors who have left military service related to the illegal invasion of Iraq, and their immediate family members, the opportunity to apply to remain in Canada as permanent residents, and to immediately cease any removal or deportation actions that may have already commenced against such individuals. Read the full letter
Soldier Say No / Project Safe Haven
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Join with the War Resisters Support Campaign in their July 2 "Phone-In"
On July 2nd…
Yes, calls from supporters in the U.S. are encouraged too!
U.S. Iraq War resister Corey Glass is still facing deportation on July 10th, despite the Parliament of Canada having voted in favour of a motion to let Corey and other U.S. war resisters stay.
The federal government and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration must respect the will of Parliament and implement the motion which calls on the government to “immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members […] to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and … the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions … against such individuals.”
On July 2nd, the War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on all supporters to call Minister Diane Finley and ask her to:
• STOP deportation proceedings against Corey Glass and all U.S. Iraq war resisters; and
• IMPLEMENT the motion adopted by Canada’s Parliament to allow U.S. Iraq war resisters to apply for permanent resident status.
Here are the numbers to call:Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley
MP Diane Finley’s constituency office (Simcoe):
Or email her at:
VETERANS FOR PEACE CALLS FOR JULY 9 VIGILS
AT CANADIAN CONSULATES
Dear Canada: Do Not Deport U.S. War Resisters!
VETERANS FOR PEACE has joined with Courage To Resist and Project Safe Haven to organize July 9 vigils and delegations to Canadian consular offices throughout the U.S.
VETERANS FOR PEACE is sending an Open Letter to the Canadian Government and People and is encouraging its 7,000 members to contact the Canadian government directly.
Write letters to the Canadian government. You can send your own letters or you can go online and Courage To Resist will do it for you. Either way, you can get the contact information at www.couragetoresist.org/canada.
Can you help organize a local action on July 9? Contact us ASAP!
GI resisters are refusing to fight in the illegal and immoral U.S. occupation of Iraq.
By supporting them, we will encourage others to follow their example.
Help spread the word. Send this Call to Action to your networks!
We can make a real difference by acting NOW!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The following is an excerpt from Anti-War Soldier: How to Dissent Within the Ranks of the Military, from Nation Books.
On November 9, 1969, the New York Times published an open appeal by 1,365 active-duty service members calling for an end to the Vietnam War and for no punishment for participating in the historic Vietnam Moratorium march. The petition of these soldiers, representing 80 bases and ships throughout the world, had a huge impact and helped establish the (limited) civil liberties and rights GIs have today. The members of the GI Movement risked their careers and personal security by signing this petition and participating in subsequent actions.
One of those signers was David Cortright, who went on to write Soldiers In Revolt, the definitive 1975 chronicle of the GI Movement. He was part of an activist group of GIs at Fort Hamilton, New York. Thirty-five of the 60 personnel in his company signed the petition and several traveled to Washington, D.C. for the historic march.
I contacted David to arrange for a community meeting with some of my civilian and active-duty colleagues in June 2006 in Norfolk, Virginia. Its success led us to ponder whether something similar could be organized around the Iraq War. We wanted to build a movement where service members could express their dissent in a legal, constructive way. I began researching the rights and responsibilities of active-duty service members. The most comprehensive source I found was the website for the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO), which was very helpful in determining the limits for GIs in petitioning their government for redress of grievances.
I also found an old leaflet from the Military Project, an organization based out of New York, which seeks to educate active-duty service members about their civil liberties and constitutional rights. The leaflet had several DOD directives that listed limited rights to express dissent:
DOD Directive 7050.6
Military Whistle-blower Protection Act
This Act is the foundation for the Appeal For Redress, our organization. It establishes that every soldier can communicate individually with a member of Congress and Inspector General (IG) without reprisal. Punishment constitutes a violation of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Failure to Obey Order or Regulation. Once a reprisal is initiated, the soldier can file a complaint with an IG and seek redress from his Commanding Officer (CO). If the CO fails to provide it, the military member has the right to file an Article 138 complaint against the CO seeking redress and restoration to the member of any rights, privileges, property or status to which the member would have been entitled had the wrong not occurred.
Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces
This directive explained how to conduct the redress campaign.
Distributing newspapers and/or publications: Soldiers can distribute newspapers, even ones critical of government at official outlets on base such as post exchanges and military libraries.
Publication of Underground Newspapers: A member of the military may write for an underground publication if it is done off duty and on nonmilitary equipment. Articles in the publication may not contain slanderous language that is punishable under federal law.
Participation in political demonstrations: Soldiers can participate in political demonstrations while off base, off duty, in the United States, out of uniform and not acting on behalf of the military. Military members cannot attend demonstrations where violence is likely to occur.
DOD directive 1344.10
Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty
• may express their personal views on political and social issues.
• may make monetary contributions to a political organization.
• may attend political meetings, rallies, or conventions when not in uniform.
• may write a letter to a newspaper editor expressing personal views on public issues.
• are prohibited from making a contribution to and soliciting or receiving a contribution from another member of the armed forces or a civilian officer or employee of the United States to promote a political cause, including a political campaign.
• are prohibited from using contemptuous words against officeholders and government officials.
DOD Directive 1354.01
DOD Policy on Organizations That Seek to Represent or Organize Members of the Armed Forces in Negotiation or Collective Bargaining
Military members may:
• join or maintain membership in any lawful organization or association not constituting a "military labor organization."
• present grievances concerning the terms or conditions of the service of such member in accordance with established military procedures.
• petition the Congress for redress of grievances.
The Strom Thurmond Anti-Union Law
In 1976 the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) was considering a union drive in the military. The drive was based on the recent GI Movement and the American Service Members Union (ASU), the first attempt to organize a service members union within the United States. At its height in 1970 the ASU had 15,000 members. Although it had all but disappeared by 1973, with GI activists being discharged and transferred in the thousands, the ASU was a bold example of the political potential of lower-ranking GIs (it was solely for lower-level troops).
Strom Thurmond led the charge to outlaw unionization and organizing within the military when he introduced S. 3079 during the 94th Congress. Before the bill was signed, the military made it law in October of 1977 through the establishment of DOD Directive 1354.1, prohibiting all forms of "collective job-related action" within the ranks and banning union solicitation on base. The directive prohibits soldiers from joining, maintaining or soliciting membership in a labor organization and from striking.
The Appeal for Redress, however, has shown that active-duty troops can express themselves legally to the government and civil society at large. Using the limited rights we have under the Military Whistle-blower Protection Act and DoD regulations, we mobilized more than 2,000 U.S military members in 10 countries to send appeals to their congressional members to end the Iraq War.
But there are limitations to our work.
Commanders do not legally have to recognize active-duty organizations.
Many soldiers are unaware of their political options.
Most fear potential reprisals for speaking out.
Not breaking any laws does not prevent retaliation by the brass.
Only the fear of mass action by enlisted men and women can prevent retaliation.
The Appeal for Redress is a model for a successful GI movement for the 21st century. Human Rights training in boot camp and the support of the veteran/civilian community are key to success.
Human rights training in boot camp. Boot camp is where service members must receive a firm grounding on all of their rights and responsibilities. They must be educated about their rights under Article 138 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and their right to seek out an IG to correct misconduct by the chain of command and to appeal to higher authority if the wrong has not been addressed. These complaints are sent to the General Court-Martial Convening Authority, comprised of general and/or flag officers. Unlike Equal Opportunity advisors, IGs are independent of the command structure, DoD civilians mandated by federal law to investigate and report to commanders on mission performance, discipline, efficiency and the morale of the armed forces. They do not have the authority to correct the wrong, but their findings carry weight with commanders.
Veteran and civilian support is imperative. The appeal's success was largely due to the support of major veteran peace organizations, which formed a task force that supported the troops in terms of supplies, contacts, legal support and overall coordination.
Civilian activists and community organizers were also instrumental. The Military Project, a civilian organization in New York City, provided key support in their publications. It is my hope that with the support of these peace activists, the appeal will develop into a permanent active-duty support network.
This network must work with influential, established nongovernmental organizations and members of Congress.
Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Amnesty International USA (AI) can be effective in helping GIs maintain, enhance, and become educated about their civil liberties. The ACLU can help publish manuals that educate GIs on their rights; the NAACP can help organize hearings with the Congressional Black Caucus addressing the surge in Nazis and white supremacists joining the military.
Former California Congressman Ron Dellums used his position on the House Armed Services Committee to investigate racism and other misconduct within the military in the wake of hate crimes committed by troops in the early nineties. This type of advocacy is needed today from Congress.
AI can help the GI movement by challenging the unionization ban using the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR). Countries such as South Africa, Belgium and Australia grant their troops unionization rights.
The history of social justice movements demonstrates that when all legal means are exhausted, those seeking relief will use unsanctioned strategies if the government fails to act. During the struggle for the abolition of slavery in the 1800s, the denial of Dred Scott's human rights in 1857 led to John Brown's raid in 1859. During the Vietnam era, the brutality of Chicago's police against antiwar demonstrators in 1968 led to a mass movement against the war. The Appeal For Redress gives our leaders the platform to address the concerns of GIs before they lose faith in their government.
Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto is a founding member of Appeal for Redress. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
© 2008 The Nation Institute All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/87757/