… of US war resisters
Published on World Prout Assembly, by Guy Charron, November 24, 2007.
On November 15 Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that it would not hear an appeal for refugee status by two US soldiers who, in government-military parlance, deserted, rather than participate in the US’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The two conscientious objectors, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, contested the decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRBC), later confirmed by two lower level federal courts, to reject their application for political asylum based on the illegality of the Iraq War.
Hinzman arrived in Canada in 2004 after his request for conscientious objector status was twice refused by the US Army and after learning that his battalion would be sent to Iraq.
Hinzman left no doubt as to the political nature of his actions. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction,” Hinzman declared. “They haven’t found any. They said Iraq was linked to international terrorist organizations. There haven’t been any links.”
“This was a criminal war. Any act of violence in an unjustified conflict is an atrocity.”
According to those who have studied the US military justice system, persons prosecuted for desertion—as Hinzman and Hughey will be if they are deported from Canada—usually receive prison sentences on the order of five years. But the charge of desertion carries a possible death sentence ..
… There are two principal reasons for the Canadian elite’s rallying behind the US over the war-resister issue.
Big business fears Canada may be branded as insufficiently supportive of Washington’s wars of conquest and that this could jeopardize its access to the US market upon which 40 percent of the Canadian economy is dependent.
Secondly, Canada is involved in its own imperialist adventures, having deployed the Canadian army to Afghanistan in its biggest offensive role since the Korean War of the early 1950s. The Afghan war is greatly unpopular at home and the Canadian elite does not want to lend any legitimacy to the US war resisters for fear that their example might help give rise to a similar phenomenon in the Canadian military.
There is no question that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is implicated in war crimes in Afghanistan.
The CAF has declared that the Geneva Convention articles do not apply in Afghanistan. Recently two further government documents have come to light that show that the Canadian government knew that prisoners turned over to Afghan security forces by the CAF had been or were likely to be abused and tortured. The CAF has been regularly implicated in the murder of civilians, both by calling in air strikes and by shooting at unarmed civilians in and around Kandahar.
In Afghanistan, Canadian soldiers are paying a “blood price” so that the Canadian ruling class can be, to use the words of the CAF Chief of Staff Rick Hillier, “respected” in international bodies like NATO and so that it can “influence and shape regions and populations in accordance with our interests”. (full text).