In Iraq, James was assigned to a "small kill" team. Their duty was to place a fake camera on a pole with a sign labeling it US property, then shoot anyone who touched it. James, whose task was to provide perimeter security for the small-kill team, never got over his disgust for the tactic.
After he was wounded by a roadside bomb - suffering traumatic brain injury, hearing loss and facial wounds - the Army sent James to Germany to recover. When it was time to go back to Iraq, he went to Ottawa instead.
After 10 months in Canada, James turned himself into the military, and was put in the brig in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
So James Burmeister - who suffers from a traumatic brain injury and hearing loss from a roadside bomb, as well as severe PTSD - is in prison because he listened to his conscience instead of following immoral orders. He's in prison because of the venality of the US government and its military. He's in prison because he refused to kill.
But the most immediate reason for James Burmeister's imprisonment, and probable dishonourable discharge, is that the Liberal Party has failed to act.
The Harper Government deserves a fair share of blame, but because they are more in sympathy with James' captors than with peace-loving Canadians, we've given up on them.
However, if the opposition parties united behind the resolution to Let Them Stay, people like James Burmeister could remain legally in Canada. The Bloc Québécois and the New Democrats support the resolution. The Liberal MPs who serve on the Committee for Citizenship and Immigration have recommended that the House of Commons pass the resolution. Many Liberal MPs agree.
But the Liberals, as a party, have failed to act. Stéphane Dion has not taken a position.
And because of that, a man is in prison for refusing to kill.
If you believe, as I do, that US war resisters should be allowed to remain legally in Canada, please make sure your MP knows how you feel. If you're in the US, a letter to the Canadian embassy would go a long way.
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For a primer on the issues, you might want to read this post, including comments. This thread is not intended for debate about the war resisters. Pro-Iraq-war or anti-war-resister comments will be removed. Thank you.