WAR RESISTERS IN CANADA
Jeremy Hinzman • Brandon
Hughey • Clifford Cornell
Key • Ryan Johnson
Robin Long • Christian
Kjar • Corey Glass
McDowell • Dean Walcott •
Jeremy Hinzman was a U.S. soldier in the elite infantry division, the
82nd Airborne. He served in Afghanistan in a non-combat position
after having applied for conscientious objector status. After being
refused CO status and returning to America, he learned that they would be deployed
Hinzman did not believe the stated reasons for the Iraq
war. In January 2004 he drove to Canada to seek asylum. He is currently living
in Toronto with his wife Nga Nguyen and son Liam. His refugee claim was turned
down in March 2005 by the Immigration and Refugee Board. This decision was upheld
by the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal, and on November 15, 2007
the Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.
On July 21 2008
their daughter Meghan was born in Toronto.
Jeremy and his family
was ordered to leave Canada by September 23, 2008, or face deportation to the
United States where Jeremy would be turned over to the US military to face punishment
for desertion. A judicial review of this decision was denied by the Federal Court
in June 2009, but on July 6, 2010, the Federal Court of Appeal, citing serious
flaws with the immigration officer's decision, ruled in favour of Jeremy and ordered
a review of his application to stay on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds.
Brandon Hughey arrived in Canada
in March 2004.
a San Angelo, Texas native left his Army unit before it shipped out to Iraq. It
was, he says, his obligation to leave.
feel that if a soldier is given an order that he knows to not only be illegal,
but immoral as well, then it his responsibility to refuse that order," he wrote
in response to e-mailed questions from the San Angelo Standard-Times. "It is also
my belief that if a soldier is refusing an order he knows to be wrong, it is not
right for him to face persecution for it."
had his hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board in June 2005. His claim
was rejected and he, along with Jeremy Hinzman, sought leave to appeal to the
Supreme Court. On November 15, 2007 this request was turned down. Brandon and
the dozens of other resisters who have sought refuge in Canada must now wait to
see if the House of Commons will adopt a motion that would let them stay in Canada.
from Arkansas, was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He joined the Army with
the promise from a military recruiter that he would receive a $9,000 sign up bonus
and job training.
“Ninety per cent of what the recruiters
tell you is a pack of lies,” said Cliff. Army recruitment techniques amount
to entrapment, targeting young men from poor families, said Cornell. His unit
was to be deployed to Iraq just after Christmas. On January 8 2005, Cliff arrived
in Toronto seeking asylum. He lived in British Columbia until the Canadian government
ordered him to leave the country. On February 4, 2009, Cliff crossed into the
U.S. and was arrested at the border by U.S. authorities. Cliff was sentenced to
one year in military prison. He was released in February 2010.
When Private First Class Joshua Key was shipped to Iraq,
the US army combat engineer believed he was doing the right thing.
left for Iraq with a purpose, thinking this was another Hitler deal," he said
in a recent interview. "But there were no weapons of mass destruction. They had
no military whatsoever. And I started to wonder."
served eight months in Iraq before going AWOL. Key arrived in Toronto in March
of 2005, with his wife Brandi and their four young children. Asked
what led him to desert, he says: "The atrocities that were happening to the innocent
people of Iraq. I didn't want to be part of it no more. I came home and I deserted."
On July 4 2008, the Federal Court ordered that the Immigration &
Refugee Board hold a new hearing for Joshua's refugee claim. The landmark decision
by Justice Barnes could open up similar avenues for other resisters. Joshua is
currently awaiting a decision on his new IRB hearing.
Ryan Johnson crossed the border into Canada
with his wife Jenna in June 2005. They spent a month crossing the U.S. from California
to the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. Ryan went AWOL in January 2005 because
of personal and political beliefs.
He and Jenna spent
time with the San Diego Military
Counseling Project and attended the court martial for Pablo Paredes,
who refused deployment to Iraq.
The day after he arrived in Canada,
Ryan told Democracy Now!. "We found Jeremy Hinzman's site before I went
AWOL. And one of our first thoughts was to go to Canada, and we found the G.I.
Rights hotline, and we were looking at that. Then we found stuff on Camilo Mejia,
Aidan Delgado, and it kind of inspired me that people were doing this. It let
me know that there were other people like me that were't wanting to go to war,
and that there's people trying to get it out there to soldiers and civilians alike,
letting them know that they're not the only ones that don't believe in it."
Robin Long is from Boise, Idaho. He received orders in March 2005
to report to Iraq and meet up with his new unit 2-2 IN in May. "I still don't
think that Bush has proven we have any reason to be over there, and I would be
wrong to be a tool of destruction," Robin says.
He served two years
as a tanker in the US army, at Fort Knox before he left and came to Canada in
June of 2005. He traveled by hitchhiking from Tofino, BC to St. John's, Newfoundland,
and as far north as the north shore of the St. Lawrence during the summer months.
"I have really enjoyed this beautiful country, I'm reminded everyday by its wonderful
people that I made the right decision. I remember that a soldier is just a uniform
following orders, a warrior is the man or woman that follows their conscience
and does the right thing in the face of adversity."
He applied for refugee
status in Thunder Bay. On July 15, 2008, the Canadian government deported Robin
to the United States where he was arrested and court martialled for desertion.
Robin was sentenced to 15 months in military prison and received a dishonorable
discharge from the military. The sentence is one of the harshest handed to US
Iraq war resisters.
For more information, visit the Courage to Resist web site.
Christian Kjar, 21, is originally from California. Christian joined the
US Marine Corps in 2004. It was not long before he found that, despite the motto
of "Honour, courage, commitment"posted on the recruiting office wall "this was
not the place to go if you value human dignity."
While posted in North
Carolina Christian decided he could not participate in the Iraq war. He arrived
in Canada in October 2005, and currently lives in Toronto.
A former sergeant in the Los Angeles California National Guard, Corey
Glass arrived in Canada in August 2006. "When I joined the national guard, they
told me the only way I would be in combat is if there were troops occupying the
United States," Corey said.
"I signed up to defend people and do humanitarian
work filling sandbags if there was a hurricane; I should have been in New Orleans,
Phil McDowell is from Warwick, Rhode Island and a former SGT in the
United States Army. He joined the Army in 2001 after the September 11th attacks
during his senior year at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie New York, where he major
ed in Information Technology. As part of the First Cavalry division he served
in Iraq from March 2004 to March 2005.
A month and a half after being
discharged in June 2006 he received notification that he fell under the Army's
Stop-Loss policy and was to return to his unit at Fort Hood, Texas for a second
deployment to Iraq. Shortly after returning to his unit he made the decision not
to take part in the illegal Iraq war and moved to Canada in October of 2006. His
partner, Jamine Aponte, joined him a month later in November. They now live in
Toronto where they have started their new life.
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Dean Walcott joined the active duty USMC August 23 2000. Dean deployed
to Iraq twice, and in between, was stationed at a US Army hospital in Stuttgart,
Germany. His last command was at a non-depolyable Inspector/Instructor unit in
Originally from Connecticut, Dean arrived in Toronto
in December 2006 where he applied for refugee status.
I, Kimberly Rivera, was assigned
to the unit 2-17 Field Artillery Aug. 2006, and was shipped with my unit to Baghdad,
Iraq. Despite feeling that this was the wrong thing for me and my family, I was
obligated to follow orders. Me and my unit left the States on the 3rd of October
2006. While in Iraq, losing soldiers and civilians was a part of daily life. I
was a gate guard. This position was the highest of security for a forward operation
base, being that we searched vehicles, civilian personnel, and military convoys
that left and came back every hour. After a huge awakening in the lives of the
civilians who don't get to escape the trauma, or the pain and the loss of people
they love, I was seeing the truth and it wasn't pretty. Seeing the war as it truly
is. People losing their lives for greed of a nation, and still some people can't
see the lies behind the media. The effects on the soldiers who come back with
new problems such as nightmares, anxieties, depression, anger, and alcohol abuse,
and missing limbs and scars from burns, and some don't come back at all. To find
a better future than that is my goal for my kids. Me and my family left our little
home in Mesquite, Texas and drove to Canada and crossed Rainbow Bridge on February
18th 2007. This begins a new chapter filled with new opportunities, and hope for
my family. This journey has brought the title of the first female war resister
in Canada. I am just glad I get to be a mom again.