Refugees & Extradition
Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide
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May 5, 2005 1000 PST (FTW): The decision by Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to deny refugee status to Jeremy Hinzman came as no surprise to this reporter. Hinzman is an Afghanistan veteran of the 82nd Airborne who refused deployment to Iraq and is now seeking refuge in Canada as a conscientious objector.
Over a year ago FTW published that Canada would extradite U.S. citizens attempting to avoid the coming military draft. At that time Mike Ruppert wrote:
Canada is most certainly out of the question. Treaty revisions have clearly established that the Canadian government will toss draft evaders right back over the border. This will be made easier because the FBI now has agents in several Canadian cities and, since October 2002, the Canadian military is now a part of the Northern Command (Northcom). Northcom is a unified command in which the armed forces of the Continental United States (CONUS), Canada and Mexico all report to an American four-star general.
In addition, there are problems of visa requirements and immigration law that might prevent young American men from extended stays in certain countries.
FTW, "Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide," February 25, 2004
Jeremy Hinzman's case is now in the appeals process, and after that route is exhausted, he will apply to stay in Canada on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.i Hinzman's experience is a prelude to what we have long said lies ahead. During the Vietnam War Canada accepted both draft dodgers and military deserters. This recent decision to side with Washington makes it clear that once conscription is reinstated there will be no escape to the north for would-be draft dodgers. It just won't be that simple this time around.
In "FAYETTEVILLE: An Assessment Of Military Resistance," Stan Goff wrote:
Canada was signatory to the U.S.-Canadian Smart Border Declaration (SBD) that could be interpreted to extradite American military-political refugees, but in December 2004 Prime Minister Paul Martin announced that Canada would not forcibly repatriate American service members who fled the armed service. That assurance turned out to be hollow on March 24th, when Hinzman was denied refugee status.ii
But the decision of Canada's IRB does not reflect the social consciousness of most Canadians. In a move of international solidarity, the War Resisters Support Campaign for military-political refugees has declared:
The majority of Canadians did not support this war. The Canadian government did not support this war. We call on the Canadian government to demonstrate its commitment to international law and the treaties to which it is a signatory, by making provision for US war objectors to have sanctuary in this country.iii
Hinzman is not alone.iv
It is estimated by the Pentagon that 5,000 soldiers have deserted, but traditionally the military understates such embarrassing numbers. U.S. Army Specialist Darrell Anderson served in Iraq and is now in Halifax seeking refugee status as well. Both Anderson and Hinzman have the same lawyer, Jeffrey House, who dodged the draft during the Vietnam War by escaping north to Canada himself. After choosing to break from procedure by not firing upon a 14-year-old Iraqi boy who was running in fear, Anderson's opinion of the war changed drastically.
"I started thinking about the insurgency they're fighting. And I remember seeing their faces and I remember being in combat against them. These were just regular people, there were elderly men, young men. And then I remember looking around Baghdad and seeing the blown up buildings, the people on crutches, the dismembered people, and thinking that these are just their family members. If someone blew up your house and killed a couple of your family, you're going to pick up a weapon and you're going to fight a war for it."
"So there's no way I could go back. It's my human right to choose not to kill innocent people. And there's no way I could go die for money and oil, rich people's investments. That's when I decided I couldn't go back."v
Truth be told, the war in Iraq is illegal. International law was broken when the United States military unilaterally invaded and occupied the sovereign nation. Richard Perle (known among his cronies as "The Prince of Darkness"), a key advisor to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, admitted the invasion was illegal in November of 2003 when he stated:
"I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."vi
However the Canadian IRB did not allow Jeffery House to argue the legality of the war, which made his job defending Jeremy Hinzman all the more difficult.
"For me it's hard to say a soldier should go to jail for refusing to participate in an illegal war," says House. "But if I can't even prove the illegality of the war, it's harder to make the argument."vii
The hearing was rigged in Washington's favor.
After the appeals process is exhausted in the case of Hinzman, and he asks for acceptance from the Canadian people on compassionate and humanitarian grounds, Ottawa must then perform a delicate dance between the social morality of its people and the hegemonic neo-colonial force of Washington. In 2005, no one should be confused as to who is ultimately leading that tango.
In 1969, then prime minister Pierre Trudeau had this simple answer in reference to Vietnam draft dodgers: "Those who make the conscientious judgment that they must not participate in this war ... have my complete sympathy, and indeed our political approach has been to give them access to Canada … Canada should be a refuge from militarism."viii
This reflects the will of the Canadian people to this day, but international politics in contemporary society doesn't necessarily require the will of the people in order to create policy - especially when you consider that extradition doesn't directly impact upon the Canadian people themselves.
Where does the draft currently stand?
Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) introduced a bill calling for conscription last year, but the legislation was placed on the suspension calendar in October of 2004. Rangel's office sent out a press release stating this was done to avoid addressing the issue before the election.ix
Rangel introduced the legislation from an anti-war position, claiming that if the burden of fighting the war were evenly distributed via conscription, Americans would think twice about supporting a foreign policy that may send their own sons and daughters to possible death. The Congressman is now considering reintroducing the legislation on the floor of the House this year, but has not decided whether or not he will do so.x
Is America ready for a draft? If not, then what would it take to change that? Would another 9/11-style terror attack (possibly nuclear) ready the nation to send its young to slaughter? Would the mere threat of losing our "way of life" suffice?
Would $4 for a gallon of gasoline do it?
ii "FAYETTEVILLE: An Assessment of Military Resistance," by Stan Goff, FTW, March 29, 2005 http://www.fromthewilderness.com/members/032905_military_resistance.shtml
iv A good list of military refusers can be found here http://www.tomjoad.org/WarHeroes.htm
v "I can't go back to Iraq: American 'deserters' seek refugee status," by Benjamin Witte, The Dominion, March 28, 2005 http://dominionpaper.ca/accounts/2005/03/28/i_cant_go_.html
vi "War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal," by Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger, The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1089158,00.html
vii "I can't go back to Iraq: American 'deserters' seek refugee status," Ibid
viii "U.S. soldier right to seek refuge," by Guidy Mamann, Metro, March 29, 2005 http://www.metronews.ca/column_immigration.asp?id=7202&cid=3251
ix Congressman Rangel Press Release, October 5, 2004
x On March 29, 2005, Congressman Rangel's office said they are "still waiting for the congressman to make a decision" as to whether or not he will reintroduce draft legislation this year.
"Students learn process to become objectors to draft," by Jenna Spinelle, The Digital Collegian, March 21, 2005 http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/2005/03/03-21-05tdc/03-21-05dnews-09.asp
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