U.S. Iraq war resister Corey Glass was told on May 21 that his application to stay in Canada has been rejected and he now faces deportation. Glass would be the first Iraq war resister to be deported from Canada.
This is not just an immigration or moral issue -- it is an issue of international law. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the Iraq war illegal, and the war crimes and crimes against humanity that have occurred throughout the war are well-documented.
Canada cannot pretend to support international law while denying sanctuary to those fleeing war crimes and crimes against humanity. If we expect individuals to uphold international law, then it follows that we must support them and provide sanctuary when they believe they are being asked to do something that violates international law.
If we fail to do so, then we lose all right to prosecute individuals for crimes they have committed, and the Nuremberg principles and the International Criminal Court will cease to have relevance.
I am saddened and ashamed by the failure of our current immigration/refugee system and our Supreme Court to understand this, and by their seeming insistence that languishing for years in a military prison is not persecution.
It is time for new legislation in Ottawa that clearly outlines our commitments and responsibilities under international law. Providing sanctuary to those fleeing from acts they believe are unlawful should be addressed as an immediate priority.
Jillian Skeet, Vancouver, B.C.
The above is a letter to the Toronto Star in reference to Wednesday's Nick Kyonka's "U.S. Iraq deserter loses bid to stay" (Toronto Star).
On Wednesday, US war resister and Iraq War veteran Corey Glass was informed that he had until June 12th to leave Canada on his own. If he did not leave, he was informed he would be deported. Since August 2006, Glass has attempted to win asylum. You might think that would be news.
It really wasn't. The same Panhandle Media that always insists you hold Real Media accountable doesn't have any sense of accountability or responsibilty. Amy Goodman is but one who's thrilled to finger point at what the New York Times gets wrong or ignores but this would be the same Goody who devoted (FOR THE HOUR!) Thursday's show to a book and Friday's show to a feature film. She didn't do a segment on Corey Glass, she didn't even include him in the headlines. Panhandle Media preaches accountability but they have no accountability or standards for themselves.
They're really good at hurling negative criticism at Real Media but they have no time to respond to their own failures. They're not interested in that at all. And if the week demonstrated anything it was to show how worthless Panhandle Media is, day after damn day.
Corey Glass is news. But Panhandle Media (apparently having exhausted and rubbed themselves raw over Barack) couldn't make time for it. Goody needed to do hour long 'features' and, you'll note, in both hours, she made plenty of time to critize Real Media. All the while she was ingoring news that mattered, not even willing to include it in a headline.
It's past time for accountability in Panhandle Media. It's past time that some of our alleged media critics started examing the hype versus the reality. Until there's some accountability, get ready for the Iraq War to last 20 years. And be prepared for war resisters to be ignored throughout.
And we'll close with John Catalinotto's "GIs, vet resisters take lead in anti-war actions" (Workers World) who has never shied from covering war resisters:
Veterans groups and individual GI resisters and their supporters have taken the lead in the U.S. anti-war movement. In mid-May there were multiple reports of war refusals and one mass protest at a major military training base for troops headed for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Near Fort Drum in upstate New York, the Watertown-based Different Drummer Café joined with the Iraq Veterans Against the War and peace activists who had marched from the upstate cities of Rochester, Ithaca and Utica to hold a festival on May 17, Armed Forces Day.
Drummer organizer Tod Ensign told Workers World that as the official Armed Forces Day Parade ended outside the Dulles Federal Building, Col. Kenneth Riddle, Fort Drum's garrison commander, found himself surrounded by IVAW members in their black T-shirts.
When asked about the failure of the command to address Iraq veterans’ problems with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), all Col. Riddle could say was, "I just got here two weeks ago." Though the vets requested a meeting, Riddle begged it off.
The festival, scheduled for a campsite and including five popular musical performances, moved inside to the Different Drummer when rain started. One observer described the scene: "Veterans and anti-warriors from at least four U.S. wars mingled happily together. The Drummer was bursting at the seams, as festival participants spilled on to the mall walkway outside while over 50 danced and celebrated inside."
An African-American veteran read a poem dedicated to his wife, a soldier who has been called up for a second tour of duty in Iraq. She was in the audience holding their 7-month-old son. The couple received a tremendous outpouring of sympathy, including assurances of legal, moral and practical support, whatever choice they make.
Ensign noted the atmosphere of mutual understanding between the upstate peace movement and the soldiers just now beginning to question the war. Another good point was the marchers' reception in a traditionally conservative area--a local American Legion chapter hosted the marchers for dinner and let them stay in their hall for the night. Plus the marchers got relatively good publicity in both local upstate press and in the New York Times. (May 15)
Ensign told how Gen. Michael Oates, commander of Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division, had released a conciliatory statement during the week that he "welcomed" the peace marchers, saw "no problem" with their demonstrating on base if they didn't block traffic, and said active-duty GIs could join in if they didn't wear uniforms.
Support for resisters
Other signs of the disenchantment with the wars were the growing number of war resisters.
One is Army PFC Ryan Jackson, who was formally charged with multiple counts of being absent without leave, stemming from his attempt to be released from the Army prior to Iraq deployment. His special court martial--with a maximum one-year prison sentence--on these charges is set for May 30 at Fort Gordon, Ga.
"Since I joined up with Courage to Resist and Iraq Veterans Against the War, my life has changed. I plan to write a book about all of this, and to make positive change in my community when I get out," said Jackson before turning himself in at Fort Sill, Okla., on April 4.
Dianne Mathiowetz, the Atlanta coordinator for the International Action Center, told WW, "Support for Ryan Jackson is building with activists in the Augusta area near Fort Gordon. Also, the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition and the IAC are mobilizing to attend the vigil the night of May 29 and the court martial. All members of the military who refuse to participate in this illegal war of occupation deserve our full support."
IVAW member Matthis Chiroux announced on May 15 in Washington, D.C., his refusal to report to active duty. Sgt. Chiroux, who is originally from Auburn, Ala., has done tours in Germany, Afghanistan and the Philippines since his June 2002 enlistment.
"As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter service members' stories," Chiroux said, "I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me. Never again will I fail to stand."
Chiroux announced his courageous decision in the Cannon House Office Building rotunda, after fellow IVAW members testified before the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
During a court martial May 13 at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany, U.S. Army conscientious objector Robert Weiss was sentenced to seven months confinement. Weiss pled guilty to charges of desertion and missing movement. Weiss had learned in December 2007 that his conscientious objector application was denied.
Bryan Currie says he joined the Army in November 2004 because "I thought it would be a good thing to fight for my country." He was trained as an Infantry Grenadier and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 for 11 months. He describes what he experienced when he got injured:
"We were on a convoy to pick up another soldier. I was the driver. On the way back my truck got hit by a land mine. ... I got burned, I lost four teeth, broke my jaw, got shrapnel on my hands, I was jolted forward so my knees are all swollen and my back’s always sore." He was treated in Afghanistan, was out of combat for three weeks and then was sent back to drive trucks.
When he returned to the U.S., he saw several military psychiatrists who treated him for PTSD. “They’d give you a bag of pills and they’d say, 'Here, try these and if that one doesn't work try another and if you find one that does, stick to it.'" Ordered to redeploy despite his injuries, Currie packed his bags and left. He is currently AWOL and says he is now "100 percent against the military. I've done a complete U-turn."
For more information on aiding resisters, see couragetoresist.org, ivaw.org and differentdrummercafe.org.
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