Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fare thee well, Robin Long

Klaus Offerman of the Nelson War Resisters Support Campaign reports that Robin Long has been moved to the US.

Long is the first to be deported of an estimated 200 American army deserters who have sought refuge in Canada.

In her ruling, Federal Court of Canada Justice Anne Mactavish says Long did not provide clear and convincing evidence that he will suffer irreparable harm if he is returned home.

Long went AWOL from his US Army unit in 2005. During training it became clear to him that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. He came to believe on the basis his personal research that he would likely be ordered to commit war crimes if he went to Iraq.

At home on leave before his deployment, Long fled to Canada rather than apply for conscientious objector status believing if he returned to his unit he would either be prosecuted or sent to Iraq.

Once in Canada, his application for refugee status was denied.

Long has been living in Nelson since he moved from Ontario. He has one son, Ocean, who was born in Canada.

Long's deportation comes at a time when a number of events have suggested strong support for the American war resisters in Canada.

Supporters of Robin Long and the War Resisters gathered from both sides of the border in a peaceful protest under the Peace Tuesday morning July 15.

A motion, which originated in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in December 2007, calls on the government to

"immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and...the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions...against such individuals."

The motion passed 137 to 110 on June 3.

According to an Angus-Reid poll on June 27th, 64% of Canadians would grant permanent residence status to US military deserters.

On Fridan July 4, Federal Court Justice Richard Barnes ordered the Immigration and Refugee Board to reconsider the claim of Joshua Key, an American soldier who entered Canada with his wife, Brandi, and their small children in March 2005.

The court found that someone who refuses to take part in military action which "systematically degrades, abuses or humiliates" combatants or non-combatants might qualify as a refugee.

The court also determined that the board should hear evidence on whether deserters like Key can rely on the American government to treat them fairly.

Barnes said it "cannot be seriously challenged" that some of the conduct in which Keys participated violated the Geneva Convention.

Another War Resister, Corey Glass, was given an extended deferral to stay in Canada on July 9.

Meanwhile, rallies, lobbying efforts and initiatives organized by faith, social justice, peace and citizens' groups have urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to implement the will of Parliament expressed in a landmark June 3rd motion.Recommend this Post

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