The hearing has only begun, and not many news organisations have much to say on things yet. Even the official site for Jeremy news is pretty quiet.
Source: CBC News
Last Updated Mon, 06 Dec 2004 21:47:47 EST
TORONTO – An immigration panel in Toronto opened a hearing on Monday that will decide whether a former paratrooper who fled the United States to evade the war in Iraq should be allowed to stay in Canada.
Jeremy Hinzman is seen as a deserter by the American military, but to his supporters he is a war resister and should be given refugee status in Canada.
“I think he has a perfect right to be here as a refugee. His life would be in danger if he went back to the U.S.,” said one of Hinzman’s supporters outside the hearing.
Hinzman enlisted in the U.S. army three years ago as a paratrooper with the 82 Airborne Division. He deserted earlier this year, rather than go to Iraq.
In an interview several months ago Hinzman said he enlisted “for pragmatic reasons, because I wanted a college fund …” His lawyer says Hinzman is seeking refugee status because he’s morally opposed to the war in Iraq and that the U.S. invasion of Iraq violates international human rights.
“We are allowed to argue that the conduct of the war on the ground is sufficiently outside the Geneva Conventions that Mr. Hinzman ought not to be associated with it. He should not be compelled to participate in an activity which is in violation of the Geneva Conventions,” said lawyer Jeffrey House.
Watching the proceedings is a handful of other U.S. military deserters, among them Brandon Hughey. “We’re optimistic that in the end we’ll be able to stay. But it’s going to be a long road,” he said.
Three days have been set aside for the hearing.
Written by CBC News Online staff
Global TV News had a basic bit about how Jeremy believes that he would be expected to commit war crimes, such as killing civilian families, “I didn’t want to kill babies.” He and his lawyer must convince the Refugee Board that he has a well founded belief that he will suffer persecution if he returns home. As an army deserter, even if the government won’t kill him, he’ll likely have trouble finding a place to live where he won’t be harrased. He’ll likely have an easier time returning to a coastal state rather than Jesusland proper.
The Globe and Mail has a piece online as well.
The maximum penalty for desertion is a five-year prison sentence, and yesterday Mr. Hinzman was asked why he didn’t request a discharge, instead of conscientious objector status, once he decided he had a moral stance against killing.
“Although I didn’t feel I could kill, I did sign up to be in the army for four years and would have been content being a medic, truck driver, cook or administrator,” Mr. Hinzman explained.
Ultimately, his superiors rejected his CO application, after he told them that he could defend an airfield under attack but could not pull the trigger in an offensive operation.
“I was told in basic training that if I’m given an illegal or immoral order, it is my duty to disobey it, and I feel that invading and occupying Iraq is an illegal and immoral thing to do,” says Hinzman.
Naomi Klein for zmag.org:
Jeremy Hinzman’s hearing is a case in point. Already U.S. and British troops are spread so thin that one infantry battalion recently had to be diverted from Mosul to Fallujah then back to Mosul again. Senator John McCain has called for 40,000 to 50,000 more troops, and the coalition is hemorrhaging members, with Hungary, Poland and the Netherlands recently announcing plans to withdraw from Iraq.
If Mr. Hinzman is granted refugee status, it could well be the last straw, opening the floodgates to other U.S. soldiers who don’t want to fight.
During the Vietnam War, 50,000 draft-age Americans came to Canada; a fraction of that could break the back of the war. If Canada once again became a haven for war resisters, it would mean that we were not just quietly opting out of the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. We would be helping to end it.