You are herecontent / U.S. deserter bids to remain in Canada

U.S. deserter bids to remain in Canada

TERRY WEBER, Globe and Mail, Toronto, Feb 8, 2006

Anti-war demonstrators gathered outside a Toronto court Wednesday where
it was decision day for a U.S. military deserter who fled his post
rather than serve in Iraq is asking to be allowed to remain in this

On Wednesday morning, the Federal Court began reviewing the case of
former soldier Jeremy Hinzman, 27, who fled the 82nd Airborne Division
in Fort Bragg, N.C., in January, 2004, to avoid service in Iraq and
sought refuge in Toronto with his wife and son.

Outside the courthouse (which is beside the U.S. Consulate), protesters
held up signs and banners declaring: 'Let war resisters stay.'

The court - which is also examining the case of a second deserter,
Brandon Hughey - is to determine whether a decision by Canada's
Immigration and Refugee Board last mark to deny Mr. Hinzman political
asylum should stand.

Mr. Hinzman is the first U.S. service member to seek asylum formally in
Canada because of his opposition to the war in Iraq.

He requested asylum because of the fear of persecution in the United
States for his refusal to take part in the controversial war, saying he
would be committing a crime if he killed anyone during the course of
the conflict because the war is illegal.

The refugee board, in turning down his request, refused to hear
evidence as to the illegality of the war.

The case has drawn international attention and is being closely watched
by people on both sides of the argument for the implications a ruling
would hold for others in a similar situation.

Some estimates have suggested that as many as 200 U.S. military
personnel are secretly in Canada to avoid the war. About 20 are now
trying to gain refugee status.

Mr. Hinzman, who now works as a bike courier, faces a court-martial and
possible jail time if sent home.

Speaking with CBC ahead of Wednesday's hearing, Mr. Hinzman said he saw
changes in himself during the course of his service with the U.S.

"I felt I was losing myself, what makes me human and that I was just
turning into some sort of, sort of robot," he said.

High-profile human-rights groups Amnesty International and the
University of Toronto-based International Human Rights Clinic have also
taken up Mr. Hinzman's cause and are seeking intervenor status in the

"Amnesty International considers that there is a significant risk that
he would be imprisoned for one to five years for having left the armed
forces without authorization, despite the fact that he had taken
reasonable steps to obtain exemption from combatant duties on the
grounds of his conscientious objection," Amnesty International said in
a statement.

"If he is forcibly returned and imprisoned, Amnesty International would
adopt him as a prisoner of conscience."

At Wednesday's hearing, Mr. Hinzman's lawyer Jeffry House, representing
both Mr. Hinzman and Mr. Hughey, argued that the immigration board's
erred by refusing to hear evidence about the legality of the war in

He also said that relying on the U.S. justice system to deal with the
men amounts to asking them to "throw themselves into the fire."

At the earlier immigration hearing, that board said Mr. Hinzman was not
a conscientious objector because, despite his opposition to the war in
Iraq, he was not a pacifist. As well, the panel argued that the United
States is a democratic country with its own legal system and
prosecution for his actions cannot be equated with persecution.

If the Federal Court sides with Mr. Hinzman and Mr. Hughey, their cases
would likely be sent back to the immigration board.

With reports from Canadian Press

Speaking Events


War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Book Tour

May 28, San Francisco, CA
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Daniel Ellsberg, at San Francisco Main Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.
Sign up on FB.

May 28, Marin County, CA
4 to 6 p.m., David Swanson in conversation with Norman Solomon, at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA
Sign up on FB.

May 29, Oakland, CA
3 to 4 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Cindy Sheehan, at Diesel: A Bookstore, 5433 College Avenue at Kales (near Manila), Oakland, CA
Sign up on FB.

May 29, Berkeley, CA
7:30 to 9 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, sponsored by the Social Justice Committee and Cynthia Papermaster, 1606 Bonita Ave. (at Cedar), Berkeley, CA
Sign up on FB.

May 30, Fresno, CA
2 to 4 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at a Peace Fresno event
Community United Church of Christ
5550 N. Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93710
Contact Dan Yaseen 559-251-3361,
Sign up on FB.

June 11 St. Paul, MN, 6 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN.
Sign up on FB.

June 12 Minneapolis, MN, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Joan's 4533 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis, MN, plus peace pole dedication at 2 p.m.
Sign up on FB.

June 24 Roanoke, Va.
7:30 pm @ Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke (2015 Grandin Rd SW, Roanoke, VA 24015). Contact:
Sign up on FB.


Other Events Here.







Support This Site


Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.



Speaking Truth to Empire


Families United


Ray McGovern


Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.