Soldiers' Love for Humanity
Canada Must Embrace US War Resisters
By Alison Bodine
The defense of American War Resisters, soldiers who refuse to fight in Iraq and come to Canada demanding refugee status, is an important struggle for the anti-war movement and for poor and working people all over the world. When Jeremy Hinzman became the first US soldier to cross the border he immediately became a part of the anti-war movement. He spoke at rallies and forums and made his claim public, highlighting the violation of his rights as a soldier and the gross reality of the US’ war and occupation of Iraq.
Most importantly, Hinzman did not stand alone for long, many others have joined him. In February the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) denied Hinzman refugee status, but this has not intercepted the flow of US War Resisters into Canada. Since the War on Iraq began the Pentagon admits that 6,000 soldiers have gone AWOL (Absent Without Leave). Countless numbers of these soldiers are underground in cities all across Canada or waiting around the border. It is important that soldiers who refuse to fight in Iraq be given the space to speak out against the war and to not be persecuted for their conscientious objection to the war.
US War Resisters in Canada are not silent, but virulent opponents to the war in Iraq. As US soldiers, they have a perspective and voice that no one else can provide; many have fought on the ground in Iraq, seen destruction, death and the everyday life of people living under an occupation. These soldiers words are deeply human and they come directly from poor and working people in the US, people who face intensifying recruitment tactics and monetary incentives as the Army struggles to meet enlistment quotas. Their words come amidst the quagmire in Iraq; as people who were forced to join the military as the only means to an education and a viable future.
Darrell Anderson, a soldier who spent seven months in Iraq before returning home on a short leave and seeking refuge in Canada, has participated in numerous anti-war events all over Eastern Canada. “The First steps you take in Baghdad, you realize that there’s death and destruction all over the place. No weapons of mass destruction in sight. We’re fighting people that we’re supposed to help, but in fact they hate you and every time you walk down the street they shoot at you because you occupy their country. You’re asked to get in their houses, in their businesses, block the roads, but you’re an occupying power, you’re messing up their daily life. You’re not a liberator.”
Ivan Brobeck, a US Marine who served in Iraq, contributes in one short statement the essence of the US occupation of Iraq. “In Iraq, I found myself being the problem instead of the solution.”
Jeremy Hinzman is continuing his fight in the appeals process with the government of Canada. Brandon Hughey, a young soldier who enlisted before even graduating from high school, was the second soldier to apply for refugee status in Canada. On June 3rd he had his hearing. It is extremely important that people in Canada continue to defend War Resisters and continue the fight to end the occupation of Iraq.
American War Resisters in Canada not only weaken the occupation forces in Iraq by refusing to fight, but also provide a strong and necessary voice to the anti-war movement. Youth and students, poor and working people in Canada must demand refugee status for War Resisters!
Refugee Status for US War Resisters in Canada Now! Support and Defend War Resisters! End the Occupation of Iraq!
Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), a Vancouver anti-war coalition, has a War Resisters Support Campaign that regularly petitions and organizes in the defense of War Resisters. Please visit www.mawovancouver.org to sign the petition or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to get involved.
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