Nearly all of us oppose the Iraq invasion and occupation, but we feel helpless to do anything. As non-consistuents, we have no representative or senator to call. Inhabiting a different geography, we cannot easily participate in anti-war demonstrations. There is, however, something we can do, and that is to support the war resisters looking for asylum in Canada.
A couple hundred AWOL GI's are currently living in Canada. They are from the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. Many of them served one tour in Iraq and then refused to go back again. Instead, they and their families have moved to Canada. With the support of many Canadians, they are struggling to create a home for themselves and a sanctuary for war resisters.
Nearly fifty of the resisters have asked Canadian authorities to allow them to remain in Canada as political refugees. They strongly believe they are doing the right thing by refusing to fight in an illegal war. They look to UN refugee law, which states that soldiers should be considered as refugees if they face persecution for refusing to fight in wars that are "widely condemned by the international community as contrary to standards of human conduct."
These absentee GI's are upholding the Nuremberg Principles, which were adopted as U.S. law after World War II. By refusing to fight in illegal wars or to commit war crimes, they are exercising their rights and responsibilities as soldiers.
So far, the war resisters' refugee claims have been rejected by the political appointees on Canada's refugee boards, who say that war resisters had legal avenues in the U.S. they could have pursued. They say that prosecution for being AWOL does not amount to "persecution." They are reluctant to call the U.S. war "illegal."
But the war resisters are fighting for their rights and for international law. They are appealing in Canada's federal court system. The first two U.S. war resisters to apply for refugee status, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, have asked the Supreme Court of Canada to hear their appeals. Their lawyer, Jeffry House, is optimistic that the Supreme Court will overturn the negative decisions of the refugee board and the lower courts that have upheld them. In November, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to hear the war resisters' appeals.
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Tell the Canadian government: Let them stay!
Contact both Prime Minister, Stephen Harper and Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, Diane Finley to request that they make a provision to allow U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Diane Finley
(between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.)
For more information or to donate to the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada, visit their website at www.resisters.ca.