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Hinzman to Appeal Refugee Board Decision

The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) today rejected U.S. war resister Jeremy Hinzman’s claim for refugee status in Canada. Hinzman and his lawyer, Jeffry House, immediately announced that they would appeal the decision to the Federal Court of Canada. “Jeremy has a very strong refugee claim. Unfortunately the IRB refused to allow him to present a crucial part of his case: the illegality of the US invasion of Iraq,” said House. “We are confident that the Federal Court will correct this and overrule the IRB decision.”

Speaking on behalf of the War Resisters Support Campaign, Lee Zaslofsky expressed disappointment at the decision. “Of course we are disappointed. The technicalities of the refugee process were allowed to obscure the justice of Jeremy’s case. But we will continue to campaign to get the Government of Canada to open our doors to all U.S. Iraq War resisters.”

The War Resisters Support Campaign, which was launched in early 2003, took the position from the beginning that U.S. war resisters should not be sent back to face incarceration or even a possible death sentence for refusing to participate in an illegal war. “Canada must not become an enforcement arm of the U.S. military, handing over to certain punishment courageous young men whose only offense was to follow Canada’s own example,” said Carolyn Egan, a Campaign spokesperson.

Hinzman is the first of seven US war resisters who have applied for refugee status in Canada. The others are still waiting for their hearings to be scheduled. “Canadian law requires that each refugee claim be considered on its own merits.” said House. “We will pursue the other claims every bit as vigorously as Jeremy’s claim.”

“It seems like the Martin Government is dithering over what to do about US war resisters who come to Canada. But this issue will not just go away, and Mr. Martin should face up to the need to provide sanctuary to them. It is simply wrong to leave them in limbo, facing either jail terms or long term uncertainty. Pierre Trudeau was proud to offer access to Canada as a “refuge from militarism” during the Vietnam War – Paul Martin should do likewise for those who cannot in good conscience take part in the Iraq War,” said Zaslofsky.

For further information:
Lee Zaslofsky 416 598 1222 or 416 369 0864
Carolyn Egan 416 806 7985

War Resisters Support Campaign • resisters@sympatico.ca • 416 598 1222 •