5.24.2010

"i've bled for my country": u.s. war resisters in canada in usa today

This story is on the front page of today's USA Today. The writer spent considerable time in Toronto, interviewing US war resisters from both the Iraq and Vietnam wars.

We've been waiting a long time for the story to appear, but the timing couldn't be better: tomorrow is both Jeremy Hinzman's Federal Court of Appeal hearing and the beginning (first hour of debate) of the second reading Bill C-440.
In Canada once more, U.S. troops fleeing a war

By Judy Keen, USA TODAY

TORONTO — Patrick Hart came here in 2005, when he couldn't face a second deployment to Iraq. A U.S. Army sergeant with almost 10 years of active duty, he would rather stay in Canada forever than return to a war he thinks is wrong.

Hart, 36, knows that some people think he is a traitor, but he has no regrets. "I've bled for my country, I've sweated for my country, I've cried myself to sleep for my country — which is a lot more than some people who are passing judgment on me have done," he says. "I would rather go sit in prison than go to Iraq."

Deportation, court martial and prison are imminent threats to Hart and about 200 other U.S. troops seeking sanctuary in Canada. Despite being members of an all-voluntary military, some oppose the war in Iraq so strongly they are willing to leave their country behind — much like Americans of an earlier generation who crossed the border in the 1960s and '70s to avoid serving in Vietnam and built new lives here.

Some of the draft dodgers and deserters of the Vietnam era, most of them now graying Canadian citizens, are helping the young deserters fight legal battles and find work and housing.

"They understand," Hart says.

In Canada today, the political climate and immigration policies are less hospitable for the new deserters than during the Vietnam era. The conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper refuses to give asylum or refugee status to those U.S. troops seeking sanctuary here, although Parliament on Tuesday will debate a bill that would let them stay.

Read it here and consider sending a short, supportive letter to letters@usatoday.com.

2 comments:

Stephanie said...

Its delightful to see such gorgeous fruits in the campaign.

BRAVO to all who are working so diligently and who have so beautifully orchestrated this incredible campaign!

Cornelia said...

Hope they will publish my letter to the editor:

"The Iraq war is a total disaster and it should never have been begun in the first place and it most definitely ought to be ended asap. So, I really appreciate your article on the resisters and I strongly hope Bill C-440 will soon get passed in the Canadian Parliament so that the war resisters can stay."