In recent weeks several US war resisters who have sought refuse in Canada have been ordered to leave the country. U.S. Iraq war resister Jeremy Hinzman was told on 16 August that his family's application to stay in Canada has been rejected. Hinzman was told that he does not qualify under Canada's Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) program following a review by a Citizenship and Immigration department officer.
Jeremy, his wife Nga Nguyen and their son Liam were the first Iraq War resisters to come to Canada to seek sanctuary. On 21 July, their second child was born in Toronto. If deported, they would be the first family sent to the U.S. to face punishment.
On 15 July, the Canadian government deported U.S. war resister Robin Long. Long was sentenced on 22 August to 15 months of confinement and dishonorable discharge, receiving credit for 40 days of time served. He will spend 2-3 weeks in a county jail outside of Fort Carson, Colorado before being transferred to a Army stockade.
Three years ago, Robin Long fled to Canada rather than fight a war in Iraq he deems immoral and illegal. On July 15th, the Canadian government forcibly returned Long to U.S. military custody, making him the first war resister deported from Canadian soil since the Vietnam War.
Long's court martial was held near Colorado Springs, where he was charged with desertion "with intent to remain away permanently." He was given the maximum time of confinement negotiated in a pre-trial agreement, despite the testimony of several supporters, including Colonel Ann Wright and Matthis Chiroux, an army journalist who recently refused to deploy to Iraq. Long's sentence stands as one of the longest handed to an Iraq War resister.
Long gave an impassioned testimony at his trial, in which he declared that he was still convinced that he had done the right thing morally, even if he did not make the most prudent legal and tactical decisions. He said that he was glad that he did not go to Iraq but wishes that there was another option available to him other than facing court martial and confinement.
Robin Long was issued a warrant for arrest by the Canadian Border Services Agency on 4 July of this year, on the grounds that he did not adequately report his whereabouts to the authorities, and he was told a few days later that he would be deported to the United States. Long appealed the order, and his supporters rallied throughout the United States and Canada, urging Canadian authorities to let him stay. Despite these efforts, Long was deported on 15 July, after the judge ruled that he would not suffer irreparable harm if returned to the United States.
Long's family remains in Canada, and before the trial, he expressed concern about the separation, which could last a number of years. "I have a son I wouldn't be able to see. It's kind of hard to think about that," he told Courage to Resist.
Canada is home to an estimated 200 U.S. soldiers refusing to serve in the Iraq War, and 64 percent of Canadians favor granting them permanent residence, according to a 27 June Angus Reid Strategies poll. The Canadian House of Commons passed a non-binding resolution 3 June, calling for a stop to the deportation of U.S. soldiers and allowing them to apply for permanent residency in Canada, but the resolution was ignored by the conservative Harper administration. Several other war resisters living in Canada face the immediate threat of deportation, including Jeremy Hinzman, who received a deportation order for 23 September.
The Canadian government's actions flaunt its long- standing tradition of providing safe haven for U.S. war resisters and ignore a non-binding parliamentary resolution to allow U.S. soldiers to stay in Canada.
Sources: Courage to Resist: Iraq War resister Robin Long sentenced to 15 months, 22 August 2008; newswire.ca: War Resister Family Ordered to Leave Canada, 13 August 2008; Sarah Lazare, Alternet/ ZNet: War Resister Robin Long Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison, 30 August 2008