Friday, November 30, 2007

Other Items

We did betray them, after all. As a veteran of an illegal war, I feared that Canada would do this. But I'd hoped otherwise.
On November 15th, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected bids for asylum from two American war resisters, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. When deported to the U.S., they both will face up to five years in prison and ongoing persecution. And this case will likely open the floodgates for deportation of other American war resisters from Canada.
This, despite that fact that the UN Secretary-General explicitly declared the U.S. war in Iraq to be illegal under the UN Charter, and despite the fact that the Canadian government refused to participate in that invasion in the first place. And at the time, 79% of Canadians agreed with this decision.
Today, I feel for Hinzman and Hughey, and I'm sad for my adopted home of Canada. I am a former Soviet soldier who served in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and I know first hand how hard it is to walk away from a war, because one faces prison, frightening uncertainty, and social condemnation.
Unlike today's American resisters, I didn't have enough wisdom or courage to openly refuse deployment to an illegal war. Many didn't. Some Soviet draftees to the Afghan war I knew tried to make themselves sick, and they got out. The less lucky ones turned to self-mutilation as a last resort: a soldier in my training camp chopped off his "trigger" finger with an axe shortly before deployment. Another one, after arriving to Afghanistan, wanted out but had no way of doing it legally. He shot himself and nearly died while bleeding in my hands.
Are these the options we are now leaving American war resisters with?
It wasn't always this way in Canada. During the 1960s and 70s, Canada became home for 50 000 American war resisters who did not want to participate in the illegal U.S. aggression in Vietnam. This, among other things, contributed to a genuine respect for Canada around the world, including in the former USSR. Indeed, back then, many of us Soviet soldiers had heard about those American war objectors finding refuge by escaping north, and some longed for their own Canada nearby.
Unfortunately, now, it seems, American resisters are losing their Canada, too.
What has changed? After the Vietnam War, the Canadian government changed our immigration laws, which now prevent any American war resisters from claiming refugee status in Canada. Very few Canadians are aware of that fact, but it's what has allowed current Immigration Minister Diane Finley to tell Hinzman and Hughey to "respect our laws and leave Canada."
How ironic, then, to reflect that on November 26, 1986, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario welcomed five Soviet war objectors from Afghanistan. The Assembly described them as "heroic individuals" and "conscientious objectors in refusing to be partners in crime." The soldiers were given asylum in Canada, and they were praised for refusing "to be part and parcel of a butchering machine …occupying Afghanistan" (Transcript of Debates). Ontario's MPPs "gave them a standing ovation" (The Globe and Mail, November 27, 1986).

The above is from Nikolai Lanine's "War resisters face potential deportation" (Rabble News) and Vic noted it. "We did betray them, after all." And don't just point to the Canadian Supreme Court for refusing to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. The betrayals include the lack of attention the two have received, the lack of attention the ones who went public this year received (didn't receive, more to the point) and the general desire to gas bag on any topic other than the illegal war. They took stands and they were betrayed. They were betrayed by organizations and by media outlets that supposedly care about ending the illegal war so don't just point the finger at the Supreme Court in Canada which shirked its responsibility because in the United States there's been a ton of shirking going on as well. That's not disagreeing with Lanine's statements, that's expanding them to make it very clear that it's not just what happened in Canada. The US government started an illegal war but that appears to sail right over the heads of many in the US who think there are so many more 'pressing' topics to discuss. Maybe that topic is 'ending the next war!' which is beyond stupid because anyone old enough to know better knows that the US involvement in Vietnam, when it finally ended, did a lot to hold in check other overt illegal wars. Translation, want to end the next war before it begins? End the illegal war that's going on right now.

Yesterday, car bombs were discovered. Waleed Ibrahim and Alaa Shahine (Reuters) offer a lengthy update on what's happened since:

Iraqi security forces arrested dozens of people, including the son of a leading Sunni Arab politician, in a pre-dawn raid on Friday after a car rigged with explosives was found near the lawmaker's office.
The incident threatened to increase political tension across Iraq's sectarian divide at a time when violence has been falling dramatically in the country.
The Shi'ite-led government said Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of the Accordance Front, the main Sunni Arab bloc, could be stripped of the immunity from prosecution he holds as a member of parliament if he was found to have links to car bombs.

[. . .]

Seven people were arrested on Thursday at Dulaimi's office and 29, including Dulaimi's son Mekki, were seized in a raid early on Friday at Dulaimi's house, said Brigadier General Qassim Moussawi, security spokesman for Baghdad.

Arrests aren't guilt but that's where the situation currently stands.


Brian De Palma's Redacted is playing in selected cities and Texas community members, hold on for after the list. Here's a list of where it is playing, where's it's opening and where it's still scheduled to open.

On Screen

West Hollywood, CA: Sunset 5
New York, NY: Sunshine Cinema
Philadelphia, PA: Ritz at the Bourse
San Francisco, CA: Opera Plaza Cinemas


Santa Cruz, CA: Nickelodeon Theatres
Santa Rosa, CA: Rialto Cinemas Lakeside
Denver, CO: Mayan Theatre
Atlanta, GA: Midtown Art Cinemas 8
Baltimore, MD: Landmark Harbor East 7
Bloomfield Hills, MI: Maple Art Theatre
Raleigh, NC: Colony Twin
Seattle, WA: Metro Cinemas

Little Rock, AR: Market Street Cinema
Tucson, AZ: The Loft Cinema
Santa Fe, NM: The Screen
Cleveland Heights, OH: Cedar Lee Theatres
Pittsburgh, PA: Squirrel Hill
Salt Lake City, UT: Broadway Centre Cinemas

Rochester, NY: Little Theatre

Savannah, GA: Victory Square Cinema 9

Norfolk, VA: Naro Expanded Cinema

Columbus, GA: Peachtree 8

Las Vegas, NV: Neonopolis 14

Honolulu, HI: Doris Duke Theatre

Where's Dallas and Houston? It was supposed to open in both today. Though Dallas isn't on the list, the Landmark website says it will open there on December 7th now. The Houston Chronicle says "no opening date set." Betty's seeing it today in Atlanta. If it opens in your area, please make a point to check it out. Attacked by Bill O'Lielly and allegedly 'helpful' voices as well.

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