• US Army Deserter Seeking Refugee Status in Canada

    by  • 12/6/2004 • life • 5 Comments

    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.

    60 Minutes on CBS:

    “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.


    About

    5 Responses to US Army Deserter Seeking Refugee Status in Canada

    1. rabidfox
      12/8/2004 at 5:20 pm






      “Hinzman enlisted in the U.S. army three years ago as a paratrooper with the 82 Airborne
      Division.” Last I heard, airborne was a volunteer only speciality. In fact, he could
      have enlisted into the medical services had he really had a problem with shooting people,
      or the MPs if he were really motivated by defense only. This guy is an exploitive jerk.

    2. POedCanadian
      12/8/2004 at 5:33 pm

      Send him back to the US now. He is a volunteer, he wasn’t drafted, and if Canada wimps out and gives him refugee status, it makes a mockery of our system, and all real refugees

    3. Tegan
      12/8/2004 at 6:04 pm

      I was once in the military. I served in operation “Just Cause,” better known as the invasion of Panama in 1989. Most people do not remember this war, especially the young adults currently serving in Iraq. The main purpose to the Panamanian invasion, we were told indirectly, was to remove a foreign consultant currently on the CIA?s payroll; an individual by the name of Manuel Noriega. Although, the main reason we were given for the invasion was to protect American interests in the Panama Canal (The “it’s best for the US” spin was even used back during Bush senior?s term). My mission was to search out and destroy any PDF (Panamanian Defense Force) troops who were loyal to Mr. Noriega. When the U.S. invaded, many of these Panamanian troops fled into the deep jungles of Panama, Costa Rica, and Columbia to escape the American onslaught. I spent many days traversing through thick jungles, searching for, and once located, destroying these individuals. I was 19 at the time, and didn?t think much about the consequences of my actions; I viewed it as my job, the way I was going to pay for college (…with the taking of other human life. On another note: I falsely believed I would not do any
      combat while serving). Fifteen years later, I am aware of the fact that along with many others, I was used as a dispensable pawn in the current president?s political (possibly even personal) neo-conservative agenda. Funny, now that I think of it, the similarities between the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the invasion of Iraq today are ironic to say the least. If at the time of my service, I was more politically and socially aware/intelligent, I would be writing this comment from Vancouver B.C., but I?m not. Presently, Jerry Hinzman, much like myself while serving in Panama, is just another casualty of a government with its own political, ideological, personal, and highly arrogant agenda. I truly believe Mr. Hinzman has the right to decide if his life is worth being put at risk, being based solely on his disagreement with the political/personal agenda of a few individuals in public office. This is a free country, or is it?

    4. carol mcl
      12/9/2004 at 1:17 am

      Tegan, you said of your service in Panama: ?? Huh??
      Dubya was not even president back when you served in Panama. What on earth would Jeremy
      need asylum for in Canada? So he does a little jail time (maybe) for deserting. Or not.
      Perhaps they’ll just choose to give him a general discharge so as to take the wind out of
      his and others’ sails. Either way he should take whatever comes, the honorable
      way. After all he was not drafted, he chose to enter the Army. Anyone foolish enough to
      think that by joining the military they are not also signing on to fight and kill should
      the need arise when they are called to do so is too foolish to have a gun
      anyways.

    5. carol mcl
      12/9/2004 at 1:23 am

      Hhhmmm for some reason Tegan’s line did not show up in my response. THe line of his I
      wanted to have included was “I was used as a dispensible pawn in the current president’s
      political(possible even personal)neo-conservative agend”. After which should be:
      ?? Huh?? Dubya was not even president back when you served in Panama. What on earth would
      Jeremy need asylum for in Canada? So he does a little jail time (maybe) for deserting.
      Or not. Perhaps they?ll just choose to give him a general discharge so as to take the
      wind out of his and others? sails. Either way he should take whatever comes, the
      honorable way. After all he was not drafted, he chose to enter the Army. Anyone foolish
      enough to think that by joining the military they are not also signing on to perhaps fight
      and kill should the need arise when they are called to do so is too foolish to have a gun
      anyways.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *