Two U.S Army deserters have exhausted their appeals for Canadian refugee status and now face deportation.
In a ruling released yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Federal Court of Appeal upheld decisions by the Federal Court and the Immigration and Refugee Board that Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are not entitled to refugee status.
The ruling is a blow to at least 17 other war resisters in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as many others across the country, who insist the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq violates international law, and that those who refuse to participate should not be punished.
Hinzman and Hughey could face lengthy prison terms if convicted of desertion upon their return to the United States.
The above was noted by Vic (yesterday, I only saw the e-mail this morning, sorry) and is from Jack Lakey's "Deserters lose refugee status bid" (Toronto Star). The refugee "board" is of course not independent and not a "board" (it's one person deciding on the applications). How much does this effect other war resisters in Canada was Vic's question? I'm not sure that it effects everyone. The decision is wrong and cowardly and thank Katrina vanden Heuvel and the other peace resisters who stayed silent (and a special slot in hell for you if your own father went to Canada during Vietnam and you have stayed silent today -- as some have -- a special slot in hell for you for that). But, for instance, Kyle Snyder and Joshua Key went to Canada after serving in Iraq and seeing war crimes (and of course Kyle is now married to a Canadian). It's a huge blow and it's as shameful for Canada as it is for 'leading' voices who have stayed silent. Possibly it's time to start naming voices of today whose parents went to Canada. I'm not sure the Carter amnesty played out. If they think they can sit on the sidelines (having benefitted from an earlier time), possibly we should be noting their fathers so they can be stopped when they come to this country and they too can face imprisonment? Is that what it will take to light a fire under our supposed independent media? The thought of their own fathers being carted off to jail?
Let's move on to something else quickly. (But those who are staying silent even though their own fathers went to Canada during Vietnam should be ashamed.) Staying on the topic of Joshua Key, Brenda notes Derrick O'Keefe's "A.W.O.L: Joshua Key walked away from the war in Iraq, and headed north" (ZNet):
IF YOU ARE, by chance, harbouring any illusions about the sheer brutality and deadly impact of the U.S. war on Iraq, then you must read The Deserter's Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War In Iraq. It is the first memoir of a combatant in this ruinous military adventure, the story of Oklahoma-born war-resister Joshua Key as told to the acclaimed Canadian writer Lawrence Hill.
Key’s book is devastating in equal parts for what it tells us about the war and for what it depicts about life in the “heartland” of the United States. Growing up in the small town of Guthrie, Key was raised by a poor mother who endured battering by a series of racist, violent men. From early childhood, the young Key was immersed in a myopic culture of violence, pervasive firearms use – he began target practice with live ammo at the age of seven – and poverty. It’s easy to see how military recruitment can thrive in situations like this; for Key, joining the armed forces might well have seemed an almost natural and positive step. (He first met recruiters in February 2002; just over a year later, the U.S. would invade Iraq.)
Nevertheless, Key recounts, a recruiter had to trick him into signing his contract, assuring the 23-year-old that he would not see combat, and that he would work on “engineering projects.” Instead of building bridges, Key soon found himself embarked on the mission of dismantling Iraq. At first he joined in the rampant abuse of civilians, noting that the assaulting of Iraqis by stressed out – or, in some cases, just plain sadistic – U.S. soldiers was absolutely routine.
After observing a particularly grisly display of disrespect exacted on the bodies of dead Iraqis, however, Key had had enough. But, of course, he was not free to act on that conviction. Eventually, he came to the difficult decision to desert while on leave back in the States. After living underground in Philadelphia with a growing young family, Key made contact with the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto and, soon thereafter, successfully crossed the border to Canada with his family in tow.
Key also has working for him the fact that he has a very well recieved book. (That does matter.)
On yesterday's violence in Iraq, Martha notes this from Sudarsan Raghavan and Karin Brulliard's "8 U.S. Troops Killed In Iraq Bomb Attacks" (Washington Post)
Eight American soldiers were killed in roadside bomb attacks Sunday, one of the highest single-day death tolls this year. They were among 12 U.S. service members whose deaths were announced on a day when car bombs killed scores of Iraqis across the country, threatening to deepen sectarian tensions.
A senior U.S. commander said Sunday that the military was bracing for a rise in the casualty rate in the coming months, as an ongoing security offensive attempts to tame the devastating violence and stabilize Baghdad.
"All of us believe that in the next 90 days, you'll probably see an increase in American casualties because we are taking the fight to the enemy," Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the Army's Task Force Marne, told reporters Sunday. "This is the only way we can win the fight."
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