Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
International Noise Conspiracy
Z Papers On Strategy
Dan La Botz
Mark t. Harris
Rank & File
Top Lies About Iraq
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Sanctuary & Counseling for War Resisters
O n May 15, International Conscientious Objectors Day, a delegation of concerned Californians visited the Canadian Consulate in San Francisco to appeal for sanctuary for U.S. war resisters in Canada. The visit was coordinated by Courage To Resist, Project Safe Haven, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO). The delegation included military veterans, a Catholic priest, an expert on international law, and resisters of U.S. wars, present and past. Four delegation members had lived in Canada during the Vietnam War.
The delegation delivered a letter to Peter MacKay, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Monte Solberg, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The letter was received by Tristan Landry, Consul, Political/Economic Relations and Public Relations, who listened respectfully as each of his visitors stated their support for sanctuary for U.S. war resisters in Canada.
Delegation members gave a brief overview of the plight of U.S. war resisters in Canada, telling the Canadian Consul that several hundred AWOL GIs were estimated to be in Canada, and that 25 of them had applied for political refugee status. The first two, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, had their claims for refugee status denied, but their cases were being appealed in Canada’s Federal Court system.
Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, argued that the U.S. war in Iraq was illegal. “It must be opposed not only as a matter of law, but as a matter of principle,” she said.
Several Vietnam War resisters spoke about Canada’s traditional role, in the words of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, as a “refuge from militarism.” Keith Mather, Evangeline Lantana Mix, and Steve Grossman each thanked Canada for providing them with a viable alternative to going to war or to prison during the Vietnam War.
Jeff Paterson, an organizer for Not In Our Name, said, “During the first Gulf War, I was a United States Marine. “I considered that war unjust and immoral and I applied for a discharge as a Conscientious Objector. The Marine Corps told me I was sincere, but not sincere enough. I quickly found myself serving months in the military brig.
“Political persecution is a reality for people opposing the war within the U.S. military,” continued Paterson. “That’s why a safe haven in Canada is a necessity. It’s not a theoretical thing; it’s not a political stunt we’re trying to do.”
One after another, members of the delegation explained how the current system for applying for Conscientious Objector status was inadequate and arbitrary. Very few GIs are granted this status, just enough for the military to claim there is an “alternative.” Many soldiers are never told of their option to apply for Conscientious Objector status. Or they are told that COs are cowards and homosexuals to be scorned and abused.
Some GIs do manage to apply for CO status, a serious process of soul-searching and intensive writing, only to have their applications “lost” or “thrown away” by the military. Others wishing to apply for CO status have been told to wait until after they are in Iraq or Afghanistan.
In 2004 Sergeant Kevin Benderman, a 10-year Army veteran, returned from the Iraq War and became a Conscientious Objector. The Army violated its own procedures, denied him CO status, and ordered him to Iraq. Benderman refused to return. Last July he was given a General Court Martial, usually reserved for high crimes. He was convicted of “missing movement” and sentenced to 15 months in prison and received a Dishonorable Discharge.
Delegation members also explained that the U.S. military grants Conscientious Objector status only to those who can prove they are opposed to all wars, such as religious pacifists. This narrow definition does not take into account a soldier’s obligations under international law.
AWOL: A Counseling Memo
T he War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto has been actively supporting U.S. war resisters in Canada since early 2004, helping them and their families find lawyers, housing and jobs, and coordinating hundreds of media and speaking engagements, benefit concerts, and a national petition campaign calling on the Canadian government to provide sanctuary for all war resisters. The Campaign supports individual war resisters who are currently seeking political refugee status in Canada, and closely monitors the progress of all relevant legal proceedings.
For over two years now, AWOL U.S. soldiers, sailors, and marines have been arriving in Canada, most of them after receiving orders to deploy (or re-deploy) to the Iraq War. So far, not one of them has been deported to the U.S.
The Pentagon estimates there are about 8,000 AWOL GIs in the U.S. With proper counseling, some have been able to gain administrative discharges from the military. Canada’s immigration laws have tightened considerably since the Vietnam War, when as many as 100,000 U.S. citizens moved to Canada. Current regulations require would-be immigrants to apply from outside Canada, to have much needed job skills and/or substantial financial resources, and to wait up to two years for a response.
Privates Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey arrived in Canada in early 2004 and became the first two U.S. war resisters to seek political refugee status in Canada. In 2005, they both were denied refugee status by the same single member of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, Brian Goodman. But, in a promising legal victory, Canada’s Federal Court agreed to hear Hinzman’s and Hughey’s appeals, based in part on Goodman’s refusal to allow evidence of the illegality of the U.S. war in Iraq.
Canada’s Federal Court heard Hinzman and Hughey’s appeal on February 8, 2006. The appeals were denied by a decision handed down on March 31, 2006. Justice Anne Mactavish said that while high-level policy makers could argue the war violates international law, it’s not clear whether soldiers can make the same claim for refugee status.
Because Canada’s Federal Court has agreed that their arguments are sufficiently solid to merit careful consideration, Hinzman and Hughey may be allowed to appeal all the way to Canada’s Supreme Court, if necessary. This process, which will ultimately bear on the refugee claims of other AWOL GIs, may take years, during which time Hinzman and Hughey will be allowed to live and work legally in Canada.
International Law Favors War Resisters
T he struggle to achieve political refugee status for U.S. war resisters in Canada can be seen as one of many efforts worldwide to defend the primacy of international law. The Geneva Conventions on War and the Nuremberg Principles make clear that soldiers have not only the right, but also the responsibility to refuse to participate in war crimes. Such war crimes include illegal wars of aggression, indiscriminate or purposeful killing and wounding of civilians, and torture and abuse of prisoners.
According to the “United Nations Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status,” soldiers who refuse to fight in wars that are “condemned by the international community as contrary to basic rules of human conduct” should be considered as refugees.
The “Handbook” states that there are “also cases where the necessity to perform military service may be the sole ground for a claim of refugee status, i.e. when a person can show that the performance of military service would have required his participation in military action contrary to his genuine political, religious or moral convictions, or to valid reasons of conscience.”
At least two soldiers have been granted refugee status in Canada in recent years. One, an Iranian medic, had refused to participate in the illegal use of chemical warfare. The other, a Yemeni citizen who was enlisted in the Iraqi Army, went AWOL after refusing to participate in Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Significantly, both men were initially denied refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee Board before receiving relief from the Federal Court of Canada.
There are as many as 200 or more AWOL U.S. military personnel in Canada today, according to the War Resisters Support Campaign. As of April 2006, about 25 of them had filed claims for political refugee status. Significantly, most of the recent arrivals are men who have already served one tour in Iraq. While the presence of female GIs in Canada is rumored, none have yet applied for refugee status.
From Visitors to Refugees
T hese GIs traveled to Canada as visitors and, after seeking legal advice, submitted their refugee claims to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. It is also possible, but not normally preferable, to declare oneself a refugee to Canadian officials at the U.S.-Canada border, or other point of entry, such as an airport.
After several months, refugee applicants are able to receive Canadian work permits if they can demonstrate that they do not have substantial funds and would otherwise be dependent on welfare, called “social assistance” in Canada.
AWOL soldiers already in Canada should seek legal assistance and apply for refugee status as soon as possible. This will legalize their status as long as their refugee claims are being processed, up to a year or more. If they do not apply for refugee status, they do not benefit from the legal protections granted to refugee applicants, and leave themselves vulnerable to possible arrest and deportation.
Several AWOL U.S. soldiers have traveled to Canada with their wives or partners and some with children. All of these family members are included as refugee applicants under the primary refugee claim of the war resister.
Even if a U.S. war resister is eventually denied refugee status, there are other avenues. Refugee applicants from around the world often appeal to the Immigration Minister to be allowed to remain in Canada for “humanitarian and compassionate” reasons. Because they and their families have lived in Canada for some time and have established themselves as self-supporting, responsible residents, the Minister has the leeway to allow them to immigrate.
U.S. war resisters seeking sanctuary in Canada enjoy considerable political support among Canadians. Most Canadians strongly oppose the war in Iraq and are grateful that the Canadian government chose not to join “the coalition of the willing.” They do not want their government to deport war resisters back to the U.S., where they would face prison for refusing to fight in a war that Canadians oppose.
The New Democratic Party, which supports sanctuary for U.S. war resisters, made significant gains in the last election. Although it is a small, progressive party (polling about 18 percent of Canadian voters), it can be expected to exercise considerable leverage over the minority Conservative government, which does not have enough votes to pass legislation on its own. In the immediate future, nothing will change.
Most AWOL GIs going to Canada have traveled to Toronto, about a four-hour drive north of Detroit, Michigan, or a two-hour drive north of Niagara Falls or Buffalo, New York. At most busy crossings, cars are waved across without much scrutiny. One can also cross by bus, train, by plane (but one-way tickets may bring questions from immigration officials).
Those heading for Canada should have some ID to show, ideally a U.S. passport. Otherwise, a picture ID such as a driver’s license and a birth certificate will do. Military identification may be used in a pinch and will not necessarily raise eyebrows. But this should not be the first choice.
If a GI comes under particular scrutiny at the border, does not have the requested identification, or otherwise is facing the possibility of being turned back to the U.S., then and only then should she/he tell Canadian border officials they are seeking refugee status in Canada. At least one GI did this recently, without problems.
Thirty thousand Vietnam War resisters from the U.S. are productive Canadian citizens, many of them prominent in the media, arts, business, academia, and the law. Quite a few of them are actively involved with the War Resisters Support Campaign. Many other Vietnam era resisters who sought sanctuary in Canada, Sweden, England, France, and other countries were eventually able to return to the U.S. with little or no punishment, due to widespread disenchantment with the war and a broad-based movement for amnesty for Vietnam War resisters.
It remains to be seen whether the U.S. movement against the Iraq War will spawn broad sentiment for amnesty or leniency for AWOL GIs. But is the absence of a draft or outright amnesty, a blanket pardon for AWOL GIs is unlikely.
N on-U.S. citizens who go AWOL and leave the U.S. may possibly be barred from re-entry to the U.S., even if their charges are later cleared up. Those who advise GIs to go AWOL or UA (Unauthorized Absence) could theoretically be charged with criminal offenses, even though there is no record of this happening, during the Vietnam War or since. But, for both legal and ethical reasons, counselors should not tell people what to do.
AWOL in the United States
T housands of AWOL military personnel remain in the United States. For the first 30 days or so of their absence, the military issues a misdemeanor warrant that is not normally available to local law enforcement officials; those in small towns, in particular, may still be vulnerable to being apprehended. Generally speaking, AWOLs are not (as of 3/06) actively pursued by the military, although the Marines recently have been practicing a more aggressive policy of apprehension and there have been cases of pursuit and apprehension in every branch. GIs who surrender themselves before 30 days reported absent commonly receive non-judicial punishment and are retained in the service, provided no other reason for discharge manifests. Discharge is possible, but unlikely. This decision is made by the command they left.
After 30 to 60 days or more, the names of AWOL GIs are dropped from the rolls and the military issues felony warrants. These felony warrants are available to local police authorities through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and may be discovered in the course of a routine traffic stop, for example. This may result in apprehension by local authorities who hold the AWOL GIs in jail for several days before military police arrive to take them into custody. If a GI surrenders to the military, the felony warrant is lifted.
When AWOL GIs are dropped from their units’ rolls, the military puts them in “deserter” status. In order to scare GIs into returning from AWOL before 30 days, the military likes to confuse deserter status with the crime of desertion. But actual court martials for desertion are currently extremely rare and wouldn’t apply to someone who is in deserter status.
GI Rights Hotline
T he GI Rights Hotline is a national (U.S.) network of independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations that provides free counseling to active duty personnel, those in the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP), reservists and National Guard members who want out of the military or who seek assistance in dealing with abuse, harassment or grievances. Hotline counselors help GIs who are pursuing discharges.
The GI Rights Hotline also gets calls from GIs who are AWOL or UA. With proper counseling, many AWOL military personnel have been able to turn themselves in at certain military bases where they have a good chance of receiving an Other-Than-Honorable administrative discharge from the military. Before exercising this or other options, military personnel are advised to call the GI Rights Hotline and speak with a trained counselor.
B efore AWOL GIs make a decision to go to Canada, they owe it to themselves to learn all of their options, as do those who counsel them. Certain categories of GIs are eligible for discharge in lieu of court-martial, depending on branch of the military, length of time in the military, length of time AWOL or UA, and administrative status (dropped from their unit’s rolls or not). Those who may be eligible for administrative discharge include:
- those in the Army who (a) have not completed Basic Training and Advanced Infantry Training (AIT), or (b) are stationed outside the Continental United States, such as in Germany, Korea, Alaska, or Hawaii (being deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Kuwait is different)
- those in the Marines, but this is uneven and ever changing
- those in the Navy, but not those in the Air Force, which often court-martials even short-term AWOLs
- those in the Army National Guard or Army Reserves. High school age youth who have been recruited via the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP) are not yet in the military. They can get out of their enlistment very easily, either by sending a letter to the recruiter commander stating they wish to withdraw or by not showing up on the ship date. Most, but not all, military recruiters lie to their DEP recruits about getting out, threatening them with things like dishonorable discharges and jail, even though the recruiters’ regulations forbid them from threatening or harassing DEP recruits
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.