War resisters deserve support
March 27, 2009
Yes, technically Kimberly Rivera is a deserter.
True, in other times, she might have been shot.
But, when she signed on with the U.S. Army in 2006, she naively believed Iraq was all about rebuilding the country, creating democracy, keeping America safe from terrorists.
And why wouldn't she?
After all, the U.S. media were complicit in painting the false picture, never showing the death and destruction, rarely conveying the utter brutality of Baghdad and beyond, always broadcasting the White House spin about liberating Iraq.
Not surprisingly, Rivera soon found out differently.
So, while on leave in 2007, she quit Colorado for Canada with her husband and two children to seek refugee status. Now she has three kids, including baby Katie who was born in Toronto.
They have been facing deportation for months. Yesterday was D-Day but, on Wednesday, Rivera got an emergency stay until the results of her judicial review are in.
Robin Long was not so lucky.
Now Prisoner L4830R35 in NAVCON Brig Miramar where he is serving 15 months – more than twice as long as another soldier who participated in the cold-blooded killing of four Iraqi men – Long has a felony conviction and is banned from Canada for 10 years, despite having a baby son here and a Canadian wife with multiple sclerosis.
But, then, Long probably is lucky he didn't get nailed for sedition. After all, he has repeatedly said that then-president George W. Bush was "a liar and a warmonger" for how he misled Americans into believing that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq was not all about the "corporate interests of oil."
But the colonel who court-martialled Long reports to officers who report to officers who reported to Bush. And she didn't much like the interviews he gave the Canadian media, which were the most damaging evidence used against him at his "trial."
Some 200 other Iraq war resisters are still in Canada, living day to day. They are, according to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney – he who banned British anti-war MP George Galloway last week from Canada – "bogus refugee claimants" who are "clogging up the system."
No question, the system is taxed. Refugee claims are up dramatically. But U.S. war resisters are easy to check out. Their fates are crystal clear.
Not only do they face certain prison sentences but they also are marked for life by a Canadian system that hands them over in cuffs and does not give them the option of turning themselves in to get lighter terms.
Is this the Canada we know and love? The one that welcomed 30,000 Vietnam War resisters? The one that, under Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien, saw through the Bushies' bogus claims and refused to join the "Coalition of the Willing"? The one who, along with the United Nations, considered the "Shock and Awe" campaign illegal?
In Kenney's Canada, even the page on Citizenship and Immigration's website that celebrates those Vietnam War deserters and draft dodgers as "the largest, best-educated group" of new citizens "ever received" has been sent down the memory hole, wiped from the record.
In Kenney's Canada, where 64 per cent of Canadians say they support the resisters, and where two votes on Parliament Hill to stop the deportations have already passed, the U.S. military gets its man or, in Rivera's case, mom.
Yesterday, the NDP's Olivia Chow put forward a motion to allow those who "left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations and do not have a criminal record, to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada."
The vote is expected Monday night.
Let Jason Kenney and your MP know that Canadians don't salute the Pentagon: resisters.ca.
Update! More from Antonia Z on Broadsides.