Time to Resist Like You Mean It!

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It's Our Turn Now
RESISTANCE AS IF IT REALLY MATTERED
by Mike Ferner
It is not pleasant to conclude that, contrary to what you’ve learned all your life, the place you call home has become just another empire intent on enforcing its will on humanity.
 
 
Our discomfort is trivial compared to the suffering of those living where our missiles land, but still there are days when the latest news from the colonies leaves you screaming with anguish and rage against the terror rained upon the innocent without end.

It’s enough to make you want to strike back in any way possible, understanding that doing so would be to join those who rose up against impossible odds and at times fought even the mighty Roman Empire or England’s feudal aristocracy to a bloody standstill.
 
 
[For complete article reference links, please see source here.]
 
 
Of all the people I interviewed for my book, “Inside the Red Zone,” the words of one have never left me.

In a little farming village 50 miles north of Baghdad, I spoke with a local sheik who described his arrest and detention by the U.S. Army. For two weeks, he and a dozen other men sat on a patch of open ground surrounded by concertina wire. Without even a blanket for each of them, they literally baked in the sun and huddled against a three-day rain. They dug a hole in the ground with their hands for a toilet. They had to beg for enough water. Being sent to Abu Ghraib was actually a relief.

This man, responsible for the welfare of 2,000 people in his village, looked at me and very graciously said what I’d heard so often from Iraqis:
  • “I know there is a difference between the American people and your government.” Then, as his voice quaked and his eyes welled up he added, “But you say you live in a democracy. How can this be happening to us?”  (Ed. note to all stout souls laboring for peace and justice: please observe that he did not ask, "When are you going to elect a new president?")

It is not pleasant to conclude that, contrary to what you’ve learned all your life, the place you call home has become just another empire intent on enforcing its will on humanity. Our discomfort is trivial compared to the suffering of those living where our missiles land, but still there are days when the latest news from the colonies leaves you screaming with anguish and rage against the terror rained upon the innocent without end.

It’s enough to make you want to strike back in any way possible, understanding that doing so would be to join those who rose up against impossible odds and at times fought even the mighty Roman Empire or England’s feudal aristocracy to a bloody standstill.

An equally long record of nonviolent struggle parallels that courageous and violent history. We here today are the latest in an honorable, unbroken line of people who have refused to accept injustice, hunger, war and ignorance as normal and who used the power of nonviolence to make change. I’d like to share with you just a few of our predecessors’ stories.

In Judea, under the rule of Pontius Pilate, the Roman Empire attempted to publicly display imperial images, a move which sparked street demonstrations. Surrounded by soldiers and threatened with death, the Judeans held their ground and forced the empire to back down.

After WWI, Britain ignored requests from Egyptian anti-colonial activists to leave. Saad Zaghlul led the organizing of mass civil disobedience in the streets. Students, merchants, peasants, women, Muslims and Christians brought normal life to a halt and the revolts forced London to issue a unilateral declaration of Egyptian independence in 1922.

In February 1943, Nazis arrested 1800 Jewish men in Berlin, and shipped some of them to Auschwitz. The Aryan wives of these men and 4,000 supporters demonstrated in Rosenstrasse, staring down Nazi machine guns for a week. Worried about the effect on civilian morale, Goebbels and Hitler ordered the men released and some even returned from Auschwitz with numbers tattooed on their arms.

The Cape Town Peace March in September 1989, part of countless protests in South Africa, is considered by some to be the beginning of the end of apartheid.

In the wake of Argentina’s economic crisis, about 200 companies were “recovered” by their workers and turned into co-operatives, including the Hotel Bauen and the ceramics factory Fabrica sin Patrones or “Factory without Bosses,” where 410 people now work.

And just three weeks ago, Ecuador approved a new Constitution with plans to increase national control of oil and mining, give free health care to older citizens, extend civil marriages to gay partners, and allow women, the poor and Ecuador’s large indigenous community to have more say in the running of the country.

In this country we are familiar with how Abolitionists defied Federal law and refused to return fugitive slaves; how generations of suffragists agitated to win the vote for women; how the modern civil rights movement in the 50’s and 60’s tore down legalized segregation; how the Berrigans and others burned and poured blood on selective service records during the Viet Nam war; and how just this past May Day, the Longshore and Warehouse Union struck to protest the war and tied up every pound of freight from Seattle to San Diego.

There are more histories, and powerful ones, besides these – ones that didn’t fit within the popular myths of America, so they were buried. For example, the Populist movement of the late 1800’s culminated in the

People's Party platform of 1892, which called for public ownership of telephone, telegraph, and railroads, stating, “The time has come when the railroad corporations will either own the people or the people must own the railroads.” That year Populists won 11 seats in Congress and many more in state legislatures, while their presidential nominee received over a million votes and won four states.

Such electoral success only happened because a democratic insurgency organized carefully for a decade and accomplished a transformation that was not only political, but also cultural, affecting every institution, even the courts. Here is just one example of many court decisions from that period. After agreeing that the North River Sugar Corp. had violated its corporate charter, the New York Court of Appeals in 1890 disbanded it with these words:
  • “The judgment sought against the defendant is one of corporate death... The life of a corporation is, indeed, less than that of the humblest citizen.”

Imagine a time to come when a democratic culture insists and inspires a modern court to rule that Raytheon Corporation or Blackwater LLC is indeed less important than the humblest citizen, dissolves them for trying to buy off Congress and distributes its assets in the public interest! That has happened in our history and it can happen again. But our actions must be bolder. We have to quit being “good soldiers” all the time. Bringing down the Berlin Wall did not require legislation, nor will legislation bring down today’s biggest empire.

Howard Zinn's counsel is always timely:
  • “Civil disobedience is not our problem.  Our problem is civil obedience.  Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders....and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity and war and cruelty.  Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves and the grand thieves are running the country.  That's our problem.”

 
 
 
 
Mike Ferner is a writer from Ohio and a member of Veterans For Peace. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
 
 
 
 
Friends:
From the Veterans For Peace listserve:
Two eyewitness accounts you won't see in any news media reports, describing how our government in fact "supports the troops."  
1) IVAW members injured when horses charge
2) "Extraordinary Rendition" now used on Iraq vets
mike

-----

"We pointed out that as a result of a serious head injury, Nick wasn't aware enough to speak for himself. The police responded, 'too bad.'

After Nick stirred enough for us to instruct him to ask for medical
attention, he was taken to a hospital, diagnosed with a fractured
cheekbone, given nothing more than Motrin for the pain and brought to the Police Station where he sat chained to a bench for 5 hours with no further medical attention at all."


From: IVAW member Sgt. Matthis Chiroux (refused orders to deploy to Iraq)

Hi folks,

I'm writing to pass along my personal account of what happened Wednesday night at the final presidential debate. Myself, nine other veterans and five of our civilian supporters were arrested during a non-violent action at Hofstra University prior to the final presidential debate.

During the demonstration, Police recklessly charged horses onto the sidewalk and into a crowd of non-violent veterans and civilian
demonstrators resulting in the breaking of one Iraq vet's cheekbone (who was then arrested and initially refused medical treatment by the police) and the breaking of another Iraq vet's foot.

Please read through my account of the events and join me in condemning the Nassau County Police Department's egregious actions and calling on Obama and McCain to do the same, as well answer the questions they refused to hear from us Wednesday.

Here is a link to video from the event in which you can clearly see
horses charging the sidewalks and our veterans being trampled:
http://video. google.com/ videoplay? docid=-606281858 9753315884& hl=en

Additionally, here is a video containing audio from a wireless
microphone in which police officers blatantly disrespect an Iraq war veteran not knowing they were being recorded:
http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=eupU-StpCqM

As well, here are the links to the Obama and McCain websites should you feel so moved to contact them:
See the following websites to contact each candidate!
http://my.barackoba ma.com/page/ content/contact/
http://www.johnmcca in.com/Contact/

And feel free to pass this e-mail on to any and all of your other
contacts. Let's get this out there and give people a chance to support their troops.

Peace and Solidarity,

Matthis Chiroux

*******

15 October 2008
'Hooves of Fury Stampede Over Veterans/U.S. Constitution'
Matthis Chiroux of the "Hempstead 15" recounts his debate experience...

Wednesday, Oct. 15th, 2008, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and supporters gathered near the Hempstead, N.Y., train station to march on the final presidential debate at Hofstra University.

Our intent was made clear in a letter to Bob Schieffer, the debate
moderator, one week prior. We wanted two members of our organization inside the debate where they would ask one question of Obama and one of McCain. If CBS and the candidates failed to meet our demands, we would march on Hofstra at 7 p.m. in a peaceful attempt to enter the debate to have our voices heard.

I planned on asking Barack Obama if he would back up his assessment of the occupation of Iraq as illegal by supporting servicemembers who would thus be required to refuse service there. Kris Goldsmith planned on asking McCain about his history of failing to vote in favor of V.A. funding, especially since the beginning of the occupation of Iraq.

Non-violence was stressed in every stage leading up to this action. It was stressed by me and Kris in person to Det. Thomas J. Calvert and Det. Robert Annese of the Nassau County Police Department the day before the action. Calvert and Annese were in charge of security for the debate and they assured us they would instruct their officers to respect the non-violent spirit of the action by using restraint towards peaceful veterans and demonstrators.

In every stage of planning, IVAW made every effort to keep all planned tactics and actions "above the table" so that the candidates, the media, the police and the country would know exactly what would happen if our demands were not met.

We were at Hofstra to force the issue that veterans and service members are not being cared for or heard from by our government, and the candidates, CBS and the Nassau County Police Department couldn't have proved us more correct.

We, the veterans and our supporters, stood together in solidarity, knowing the stakes were high. But a resolve echoed deep from with us to stand our ground and be heard. Twice these candidates had brushed us off, and thrice just wasn't going to happen.

So at seven p.m. when we'd heard nothing from the moderators, IVAW made good on its promise to the candidates and Det. Calvert. We marched to the front gate of Hofstra, read our questions and peacefully proceeded into police lines.

Because these candidates cared more to hear from "Joe the Plumber" than veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, ten veterans went to jail and five civilian supporters joined us.

This upsets me, but I knew the risk, and if I must fall in defense of democracy, peace and justice, I offer my sacrifice willingly.

What infuriates me is the GROSS MISCONDUCT of the police in the process, much of which I believe to be illegal.

After my arrest, the police charged their horses onto a sidewalk and unprovokedly knocked my friend Nick Morgan, a veteran of Iraq, to the ground and trampled his face. They then arrested him, put a piece of gauze on his facewound and loaded him onto a bus headed for jail with the rest of the "Hempstead 15."

After they brought Nick onto the bus and we the veterans identified him as exhibiting signs of a concussion and as needing immediate medical attention, our arresting officers laughed at us and told us Nick would receive no help unless he himself asked to go to the hospital, though Nick was barely conscience and completely disoriented at the time AND THE COPS KNEW IT!

We pointed out that as a result of a serious head injury, Nick wasn't aware enough to speak for himself. The police responded with, "too bad." After Nick stirred enough for us to instruct him to ask for medical attention, he was taken to a hospital, diagnosed with a fractured cheekbone, given nothing more than Motrin for the pain and brought to the Police Station where he sat chained to a bench for 5 hours with no further medical attention at all.

Additionally, police pulled other members and supporters of ours from the sidewalk and arrested them while horses spun in circles causing injury to most who couldn't escape their paths.

All of this, I observed after arrest through the large windows of a bus we were detained in which was parked parallel to the demonstration and subsequent atrocities.

While on the bus, the officers mocked us, calling us idiots and whiners. When we arrived at the Nassau County Detention Center, the hazing did not cease.

One officer, when I brought up the prospect of speaking to a lawyer, threatened to, "put me in the back (jail)," where, "the big boys will pop your cherry!" When I asked this officer if he had just threatened an honorably discharged veteran of Afghanistan with prison rape and told him I wanted his name and rank, he refused and told me to look it up on the police report which the Nassau County Police Department has refused to provide us a copy of.

While detained, the three females who were arrested with us, including Marine Reserve Capt. Marlisa Grogan, were sexually harassed by the police who went so far as to hold Ids next to the chained womens' faces and make comments like, "you look like you came out of a Barbie magazine."

All night, they didn't stop. "You're cowards, you're idiots," they said. The hostility was thick and unwarranted.

"This non-violent protest stuff is retarded," they said (as if they'd
prefer the alternative) . "See how it got your friend's face fucked up?" Literally, they said this when they brought Nick in and chained him to the bench. The harassment only increased from there.

"Look at you friend's face," said one officer. "You're responsible for that." As if I gave to order to charge horses onto a crowded sidewalk. I saw this same officer in the Colony diner where we went to eat after we were charged with disorderly conduct and released. He was with the one who threatened me with prison rape, and when I approached them respectfully and again asked for their names, he leapt to his feet, threw his finger in my face and began threatening to "beat my ass" if I didn't drop it.

Afterward, one of his friends, also a police officer, approached me, accused me of being drunk and said I was about to get arrested again. I retorted that his accusations were false (considering I'd only gotten out of jail 30 minutes prior) and that I was only interested in learning the names of the officers who arrested and harassed us as I have the legal right to do. He responded with only his name, which he said was Peter Sikinger, but refused to reveal the names of his partners, though to his credit, he did back down from threatening me with arrest.

I am outraged at the egregious conduct of the Nassau Country Police Department and the failure of Det. Calvert to make good on his promise to "make things go as smoothly as possible."

But mostly, I must put this on the candidates.

Barack Obama and John McCain, you have failed to properly address the occupation of Iraq and veteran and service member issues in this campaign. You failed to hear from us, the veterans and servicemembers, at the conventions. Your overwhelming concern for "Joe the Plumber" at the final debate while veterans are killing themselves at a rate of 18 per month is inhumane to say the least.

The fact that you allowed your veterans to be arrested, brutalized and harassed for simply trying to be heard by you is inexcusable. Forever should your consciences be scarred for what you allowed to take place to veterans on American soil.

But our questions still stand, and we still demand answers.
Obama, are you ready to support members of the military refusing to participate in the occupation of Iraq which you have termed "illegal?" McCain, as a veteran, how can you account for your abysmal failure to vote in favor of post-2003 legislation to fund the V.A. which provides life saving services to men and women who gave all to serve this nation?

Besides which, you both owe the Hempstead 15 an apology. You owe Nick Morgan an apology for the reconstructive surgery he'll be receiving and the permanent, violent altering of his face that is a result of your failure to hear from us.

You owe every veteran in history a public statement condemning the sidewalk trampling of Nick and Carlos Harris, an Iraq veteran, who also had his foot broken by a horse. As well Geoff Millard, a disabled veteran of Iraq with degenerative spine disease who was knocked to the ground, dragged from the sidewalk and arrested, and Nadine Lubka, one of our supporters, who was kicked in the face by a horse. And we the people are not done forcing this issue.

I encourage every person who reads this to contact both the Obama and McCain campaigns and demand they answer our questions and condemn the actions of the police Wednesday night. They don't own this election, the media doesn't own this election, we the people own this election, and we deserve to have our voices heard. Any candidate who disagrees with that statement is unworthy of the Presidency of the United States of America.

Peace and Solidarity,
Matthis Chirou



PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2008
CONTACT: Jason Lemieux, _jasonlemieux@ ivaw.org_
(mailto:jasonlemieux@ ivaw.org) , 760-409-9403 or
Kristofer Goldsmith, _kgoldy1985@ gmail.com_ (mailto:kgoldy1985@gmail. com) ,
516-457-1260

Iraq War Veterans Arrested While Attempting to Deliver Questions to Obama and McCain

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – One hour before the final presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, fourteen members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) marched in formation to Hofstra University to present questions to the candidates. IVAW had requested permission from debate moderator Bob Schieffer to ask their questions during the debate, but received no response.

The contingent of veterans in dress and combat uniforms attempted to enter the building where the debate was to be held in order to ask questions about poor veterans' healthcare and supporting war resisters of the candidates, but were turned back by police. IVAW members at the front of the formation were immediately arrested, and others were pushed back into the crowd by police on horseback. Several members were injured, including former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan who suffered a broken cheekbone when he was trampled by police horses before being arrested.

"Neither of the candidates has shown real support for service members and veterans. We came here to try and have serious questions answered, questions that we as veterans of the Iraq war have a right to ask, but instead we were arrested. We will continue to ask these questions no matter who is elected. We believe that the time has come to end this war and bring our troops home, and we will be pushing for that no matter what happens in this election." said Jason Lemieux, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who served three tours in Iraq, and member of IVAW.

A total of ten veterans were arrested during the action, including Matthis Chiroux (Army Sergeant), Kristofer Goldsmith (Army Sergeant), Adam Kokesh (Marine Sergeant), Mike Spinato, Geoff Millard (Army Sergeant), Marlisa Grogan (Marine Captain), Nathan Peld (Navy, 1998-2004), Nick Morgan (Army Sergeant), James Gilligan (Marine Corps, 6 years) and Jose Vasquez (Army & Army Reserves, 1992-2007).

###


----------
The extraordinary rendition of Robin Long
Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:39 am (PDT)
http://soldiersayno .blogspot. com/2008/ 10/extraordinary -rendition- of-robin- long.html

How the Canadian Government Deported an Iraq War Resister to Prison in the U.S.

by Gerry Condon
October 09, 2008

The Fourth of July, 2008, was a momentous day for U.S. war resisters in Canada. While their families in the U.S. were celebrating the Independence Day holiday, Iraq war resisters won an important legal victory – their first since they began arriving in Canada four-and-half years ago. A Federal Court ruled that Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) had wrongfully denied refugee status to Joshua Key, an Iraq veteran from Guthrie, Oklahoma. Key arrived in Canada four years ago with his wife and four children after deciding he could not return to the war.

While in Iraq, Joshua Key had participated in nearly 100 home
invasions. As an Army engineer, Key's job was to blow down the front doors of family homes with plastic explosives so that heavily armed soldiers could rush inside. In his best-selling book, The Deserter's Tale, Joshua Key provides a detailed look at these home invasions. He also told the Refugee Board how U.S. soldiers would terrorize Iraqi families in these middle-of-the- night raids. The extremely loud explosions would shock the families out of their sleep. Terror-stricken women and children would watch in horror as all the family's males who appeared 15 years or older were arrested and trucked off to uncertain fates in U.S. Army prisons. Soldiers then ransacked the homes and looted the families' valuables.

Canadian Judge Rules U.S. Army's Home Invasions Violate Geneva Conventions

Federal Court Justice Robert Barnes ruled that these raids were
probable violations of the Geneva Conventions against the abuse of civilians during wartime. The Refugee Board was wrong, said Judge Barnes, to deny Joshua Key refugee status on the narrow grounds that the home invasions did not fit the legal definition of war crimes.

Military action that "systematically degrades, abuses or humiliates" either combatants or noncombatants should be taken into consideration in refugee claims, Barnes wrote. He ordered the Refugee Board to re-hear Joshua Key's claim for refugee status in Canada.

"It's quite a statement," Key said. "It makes us feel good ­ probably everybody within this whole process."

Court Ruling May Help U.S. War Resisters in Canada

In turning down similar asylum claims, the Refugee Board has
consistently held that the United States is a democracy, which
affords absentee soldiers due process. However, the Court said that the board should hear evidence on whether deserters can rely on the American government to treat them fairly.

Key's lawyer, Jeffry House, said the ruling may help the cases others refugee claimants, particularly those who are veterans of the war in Iraq. "It's a huge victory for numerous soldiers who are here and maybe others who are thinking of coming here," House said.

About two hundred U.S. war resisters are estimated to be in Canada. Many of them remain "under the radar," as do thousands of AWOL GI's in the U.S. Nearly fifty war resisters are seeking to remain in Canada as refugees who would be persecuted for their political beliefs if returned to the United States.

Not All Was Well on the Fourth of July

While the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto was celebrating the good news on the Fourth of July, something ominous was occurring over two thousand miles away in Canada's westernmost province. In the idyllic little town of Nelson, nestled in the Kootenay Mountains of southeastern British Columbia, Canadian immigration police were arresting Robin Long, another U.S. war resister. Agents of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) claimed that Long, a refugee claimant, had violated Canadian immigration laws by failing to report his change of address. Nelson police and the CBSA knew well that Robin Long was living in Nelson, where he had no fixed address, but was
"couch surfing" at the homes of friends. The Immigration police told Long that he had been ordered deported. He would not be allowed to appeal.

Canadian Police Acted Illegally in Arresting War Resister

The rationale for Long's arrest was suspect, as was its timing.
Several recent Canadian polls had revealed that almost two-thirds of Canadians want U.S. war resisters to enjoy a safe haven in Canada. And on June 3rd, Canada's House of Commons had passed a motion calling on the government to halt all deportation proceedings and allow war resisters to immigrate. Unfortunately, however, the motion was not legally binding, and the Conservative government seemed determined to defy the will of the Canadian people and Parliament.

The vote in the House of Commons was precipitated by a crisis, and the Iraq War resisters struggle to remain in Canada was coming to a head. Corey Glass, a veteran of the war in Iraq, had been ordered to leave Canada by July 10 or face deportation. War resisters and their supporters organized protest actions throughout Canada and the U.S. The War Resisters Support Campaign was able to claim a temporary victory on July 9 when a Federal Court granted Corey Glass a stay of his deportation in order to consider his request to appeal negative decisions against him. The Federal Court of Canada has since granted him "leave to appeal."

One in the Hand Is Better than Two in the Bush

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who argued fruitlessly five years ago that Canada should join George Bush's invasion of Iraq, was eager to deliver the first deportation of an Iraq War resister. The order to arrest Robin Long came from the top. It was Harper's insurance policy. If he couldn't deport Glass, he would deport Long.

While the Canada Border Services Agency shuttled Robin Long from one prison to another, keeping him isolated from friends and supporters, a last-ditch attempt to stop his deportation was mounted by Vancouver lawyer, Shepherd Moss. A hearing was scheduled in Federal Court in Vancouver for Monday morning, July 14. But Robin Long's luck ran out when his case was assigned to Judge Anne McTavish, the author of damaging decisions against Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, the first two GIs to seek refugee status in Canada.

Canadian authorities had failed to inform Long of his pending
deportation, thus denying him his right to appeal. But Judge McTavish refused to delay Long's deportation. The legal reasons for Corey Glass's were not yet published and could potentially apply to Long. Such was the rush to deport a war resister, however, that Judge McTavish was willing to risk having opposing court decisions on the same issue, within a one week period.

"Here, we've got a deserter for you."

Robin Long was not allowed to attend his own hearing and he was not informed of its outcome. Instead, on the morning of Tuesday, July 15, Canadian immigration police drove him to Canada's border with the U.S. near Blaine, Washington, and loudly announced to their U.S. counterparts, "Here, we've got a deserter for you."

Stephen Harper and the Bush Administration got what they wanted, international headlines trumpeting, "Canada Deports U.S. Deserter."

The Canadian people learned about the deportation of Robin Long from sketchy media reports. The Canada Border Services Agency, citing "the Privacy Act," refused to give the media any details. How was the deportation carried out? Where did it occur? Who handed Robin Long over to whom? Where was Long held in Canada? Where was he being held in the U.S.?

The Privacy Act, enacted to protect the privacy of individuals, was
abused by the Conservative government in order to isolate Robin Long and keep Canadians in the dark. Why didn't the Conservative government want Canadians to know the details of this deportation? The word "deportation" connotes an unfortunate but orderly and lawful procedure. What Canadian and U.S. authorities did to Robin Long was more like a "rendition," an extralegal government-to- government kidnapping supposedly reserved for terror suspects. Canadians will be outraged when they hear the truth.

War Resister Assaulted and Threatened in Canadian Jails

Robin Long was arrested unlawfully on false grounds and for political reasons. He was held incommunicado. Over a ten-day period, he was transferred to three different Canadian jails. In the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, Long was assaulted twice by a group of prisoners who objected to his dreadlock hairstyle. Although he is short and slight, Long was able to fight off his attackers once, and a guard halted the second assault. But Long decided to cut his hair.

In the North Frasier Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam, Long was
forced to share a double-bunk with a violent murder suspect. After lying down in the top bunk, Long felt a sharp punch through the
mattress. And he heard an angry voice below, "You better not fuckin' sleep or I'll fuckin' slit your throat!" Long did not sleep that
night. This is what happened in Canada to a nonviolent opponent of the U.S. war in Iraq.

After CBSA police rudely turned him over at the border, U.S. authorities confined Long in a makeshift cell for six hours without
access to food, water or toilet. He was then transferred to the
Whatcom County Jail in Bellingham, a 30-minute drive south into
Washington State. Long's friends and supporters tried desperately to learn of his whereabouts. Only by calling around to all the jails in the region did the War Resisters Support Campaign manage to locate him.

Long's Spirits Are Lifted by Bellingham Activists

Upon learning that a war resister was jailed in their town,
Bellingham peace activists went into action. The Whatcom Peace and Justice Center called for an evening vigil, along with Sanctuary City, a student-led effort to welcome war resisters to Bellingham.  Instead of waiting for the evening vigil, some supporters headed straight to the jail. That afternoon Long was transferred again, before the scheduled vigil. But as he was being driven away from the jail, he spotted two people holding signs reading, "Free Robin Long," and "Support War Resisters." This was Long's first indication that any supporters knew where he was. His spirits were lifted considerably.

Civilian police from Fort Lewis delivered Long to a jail in the tiny
town of Buckley near Mt. Rainier. Under contract with Fort Lewis, the Buckley jail was holding several Army prisoners. Some were awaiting court martial on a variety of charges. One was serving a sentence for being AWOL. The Fort Lewis brig was closed down. Apparently, all the soldiers trained as prison guards are needed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Robin Long Looked Like a Prisoner at Guantanamo

With the help of attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild, this
writer, an advocate for war resisters, was able to track Robin Long to the Buckley jail and arrange to see him. Long was brought out
wearing an orange jumpsuit, not uncommon in U.S. jails, yet
reminiscent of images from Guantanamo. Indeed, Robin Long was now a prisoner in George Bush's "war on terror."

We were the first visitors Robin Long had seen during his incarceration and abuse in six different jails in Canada and the U.S. He appeared frightened at first. We had not met before and he did not know what to expect. When he realized we were friends, Robin Long breathed a huge sigh of relief. For the first time in two weeks, he was able to let down his guard and show some emotion.

We visited with Robin Long for one hour in a cramped jail cell. He
told us of the abuse he had suffered in Canadian jails and after his deportation to the U.S. Long knew he was headed for prison. But he told us he had no regrets – he would do it all over again if he had to. He was clear and strong in his opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq. He was very happy when we gave him a copy of Joshua Key's book, The Deserter's Tale. He had been eager to read it, he said.

Robin Long Cannot Return to Canada to Visit His Young Son

Robin Long's primary concern was his relationship with his
two-year-old son in Canada. The parting shot of CBSA police at the border had been: "You will not be allowed to return to Canada for ten years, and then only with special permission." The thought of being separated indefinitely from his son hurt him a lot.

Long had been a vegetarian for long time. But he was forced to eat meat (or nothing) in both Canadian and U.S. jails. Vegetarian meals are provided only to prisoners who require them for religious or medical reasons, not to vegetarians- by-choice. The sudden change in Long's diet left him constipated until, finally, a Buckley jailer got a laxative for him. Long said he and his fellow prisoners were receiving less than 1000 calories of food per day. He asked us to bring him apples, bananas and vitamin C when we returned the next day.

But before his visitors could with fruit, Long was transferred yet
again. This time he was headed to Fort Carson, Colorado, where he would be court-martialed for desertion. Fort Carson, like Fort Lewis, was contracting out its incarceration function. So, on Friday, July 18, two weeks after his arrest in Nelson, British Columbia, Long arrived at his seventh jail, the notorious El Paso County Jail in Colorado Springs.

The Swift Injustice of the U.S. Army

The Army moved with uncharacteristic speed to court martial Robin Long. Army prosecutors threatened Long with a three-year jail sentence if he did not make their job easy by pleading guilty to desertion. Convinced the Army's threats were for real, Long and his lawyer, James Branum, decided to accept the plea bargain. In exchange for his guilty plea, Long would be imprisoned for no more than fifteen months, hopefully less. The court martial was scheduled for Friday, August 22.

The court martial was packed with Long's supporters, including
members from Iraq Veterans Against the War Iraq, Veterans For Peace, and the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission. The courtroom was full. Fort Carson officials reportedly had removed chairs that are normally available to the public. Many supporters had to wait outside.

Army prosecutors played a taped interview of Robin Long expressing his antiwar views in Canada. Because Long had already pled guilty to desertion, there was no need to prove his intent. The prosecutors introduced Long's public statements so that he would receive a substantial sentence, arguing that Long had "abandoned his duty, his honor and his country."

The presiding military judge, Col. Debra Boudreau, was sufficiently impressed. She sentenced Long to thirty months in prison and a
Dishonorable Discharge, and expressed her disappointment that the plea bargain would limit him to serving only fifteen months.

When Long stepped out of the courtroom, he was who cheered on loudly, even while military police pushed his supporters across the street.

"It sets a very chilling precedent – I hope the Canadian government recognizes that."

"I think it was a long sentence but it was positive that he got his
day in court and got to speak up and say what he believed," said
Long's lawyer, James Branum. "His spirits were relatively good.
Having two war resisters show up at his trial meant a lot to him."

Matthis Chiroux, an Army journalist who refused orders to re-deploy to Iraq, testified on Long's behalf, as did Ann Wright, a former U.S. Army colonel who resigned from her State Department job in 2003 to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Col. Wright expressed her disappointment at the steep verdict. "It sets a very chilling precedent that someone who is brought back gets the book thrown at them. I hope the Canadian government recognizes that."

Robin Long Talks with Courage To Resist

After the court martial, Long taped a telephone interview with
activists at Courage To Resist, which had rallied support for him and raised money for his legal expenses.

"All in all on the day of the trial, I had a very good day. I got to
tell the Army and the world exactly as I felt. With my defense case – the testimony of Col. Ann Wright and the other witnesses – we basically got a say to a forum and an audience that normally wouldn't hear the things we were saying – about the illegality of the war in Iraq and following your conscience and international law, a higher duty… It felt really good to say those things and to let people know that they can say those things and follow their heart.

"I enjoyed all the support that was there – all of the people who
came to see. It was kind of funny, when I was leaving they rushed me into a humvee. They had the military police escort in front and behind. They stopped traffic at all the intersections. And when I was leaving, a lot of the supporters were saluting me – that felt really good.

"I'm glad that it's me, and not somebody else."

Long told Courage To Resist that he is prepared for prison. "I'm
thankful that in my life, the things I've chosen to do, I got the
tools and the training to have inner peace. I'm thankful that it's me and not somebody ewho wouldn't have those tools to be in this position – I'm thankful that it's me and not somebody else. I can do my time – live every day one day at a time.

"When I come out, I'll start speaking for peace again and my words will be that much more powerful. I can talk now in the States… Hopefully, we can end this occupation – this war."

But he was distressed about not being a able to see his friends and family in Canada. "I have a son I won't be able to see. It's kind of hard to think about that."

Long reported having received nearly 300 letters "from all over the U.S., from Canada, from Great from Britain, from Germany, from South Africa, from Australia, from New Zealand, from the Philipines, and from Switzerland. "

Col. Ann Wright believes the outcome of the court martial would have been far worse if Long had not received such overwhelming support. "Once soldiers are returned to military control, it is in the best interest of everyone if there is support for war resisters."

War Resisters Are Persecuted for Speaking Their Beliefs

Long's fifteen-month jail sentence is the longest yet for a GI who
went AWOL during the Iraq War. But it is identical to the 2005
sentence of Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman, a ten-year veteran who refused to deploy to Iraq and spoke publicly against the war.

Once they are captured or turn themselves in, most AWOL GIs are either:
 
1) re-integrated into their units and prepared to go to war,
 
2) given less-than-honorable discharges "for the good of the
service," or 3) given jail sentences of no more than a few months.
But those who have publicly opposed the war, like the war resisters in Canada, have been much more likely to be court-martialed and given long prison sentences.

As Col. Ann Wright wrote recently for Truthout, even soldiers who
have been convicted in the pre-medicated murder of civilians in Iraq are not punished as severely as outspoken war resisters:

On September 18, 2008, the US Army sentenced Specialist Belmor Ramos to seven months in prison, demotion to private and a dishonorable discharge for standing guard from a turret in a Humvee while three others in his unit, the First Infantry Division, bound, blindfolded, shot in the heads and dumped the bodies of four unidentified Iraqi men into a Baghdad canal … in retaliation for deaths in Ramos' unit. According to Associated Press reports, during the court-martial, Ramos admitted his guilt: "I wanted them dead. I had no legal justification or excuse to do this."

Dishonorable Discharge: A Life Sentence of Discrimination

The Dishonorable discharges that have been given to Robin Long, Kevin Benderman, Camilo Mejia and other war resisters are equivalent to felony convictions, and normally reserved for serious crimes. A Dishonorable discharge is a life sentence to discrimination in employment and many other areas of life. As with many countries, Canada bars entry to convicted felons, including veterans with Dishonorable discharges. Robin Long may never be allowed to visit his son in Canada. This will be his ongoing punishment for refusing to join in the aggressive U.S. war against the people of Iraq.

Canada's Refugee Board members and Federal Court judges have erred seriously in determining that war resisters do not face persecution in the U.S. They are equally wrong when they assume that the U.S. military and judicial system will deal fairly with those who declare themselves to be Conscientious Objectors. Aside from being pressured by superior officers, Conscientious Objector applicants report being harassed, beaten and even sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers.

"Please don't call me a Conscientious Objector," said Jimmy Massey, a former Marine recruiter and Iraq veteran who came to oppose the war. "In the Marines, that's like a death sentence."
 
 
Next in Harper's Sights: Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart and Families

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative
government are now training their fire on Jeremy Hinzman, the first Iraq War resister to seek refugee status in Canada. Private Hinzman, his wife Nga Nguyen, and their 1-year-old son Liam arrived in Toronto in January 2004 after his 82nd Airborne unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina was ordered to Iraq. Hinzman, a veteran of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, had offered to go to war in a non-combat role. But the Army staged a heavily biased hearing in the Afghanistan war zone, and wrongfully denied Hinzman's request for Conscientious Objector status.

Hinzman's wife recently gave birth to a baby girl, Meghan, who by
virtue of being born in Canada, is a Canadian citizen. Liam Hinzman, now 6-years-old, knows only Canada, where he has lived since he was one. But Hinzman and his entire family were ordered to leave Canada by September 23 or face deportation.

Last Minute Reprieve for Jeremy Hinzman

One day before his government-imposed deadline for departing from Canada, Jeremy Hinzman received a reprieve. A Federal Court judge ruled he would face irreparable harm if he were deported before the Court was able to consider his request to appeal. But Hinzman's situation remains dire, along with at least eight other Iraq War resisters in Canada.

Robin Long and Jeremy Hinzman have one thing in common: because they would not kill other human beings in what is clearly an imperialist war, they are being treated like criminals. Robin Long's treatment at the hands of the Canadian and U.S. authorities should make it clear that war resisters are indeed being persecuted because of their political and religious beliefs.

If Canadian authorities deport Jeremy Hinzman, he will also be
court-martialed and convicted of desertion. He will be taken away
from his wife, Nga, and his young children, Liam and Meghan, to serve a lengthy prison sentence.

Iraq Veteran Ordered To Leave Canada by October 30

On Wednesday, October 8, former Sgt. Patrick Hart was told that he and his family will be deported to the U.S. if they do not leave
Canada by October 30. Hart, who served nine years in the U.S. Army and took part in the invasion of Iraq, moved to Canada in 2005 with his wife, Jill, and son Rian. On the verge of another deployment to Iraq, he decided that he could not continue to take part in "an illegal and unwarranted military occupation."

According to Michelle Robidoux of the War Resisters Support Campaign, Hart is asking officials to defer his deportation until January 1. "He's got a son in Grade 1 who just started school," Robidoux told the Toronto Star. "He wants him to finish the term."
 
 
Several other war resisters in line to be deported are also parents. One of them, Kimberly Rivera, is the mother of two young children. Must these children be denied the loving presence of their mothers and fathers? Must they suffer because their parents refused to commit murder? What is wrong with this picture?

Will Federal Election Help War Resisters?

Stephen Harper does not seem concerned. Not about ignoring the wishes of two-thirds of Canadians and defying the will of Parliament. Not about taking fathers and mothers away from young children. Not about treating conscientious objectors like criminals.

Harper must be feeling downright cocky. He has dissolved the
Parliament and called a Federal election. He must think that
Canadians are not paying attention. But when they cast their votes on October 14, may they remember Harper's shameful treatment of Iraq War resisters. Indeed, many Canadians believe it is time for the Harper government, like the Bush Administration it emulates, to exit stage right.

At the outset of the five-week national campaign, Harper's
Conservatives were polling fairly well against a divided opposition, and were hoping to return to power with a majority government. But in the final days before the election, Conservative support was being sapped by Canadian concerns about the worldwide economic crisis.

Regardless of who forms the next Canadian government, the legal and political struggle for sanctuary for war resisters will continue. But war resisters will certainly fare better if Harper and his
Conservatives are ousted from power. It is Stephen Harper who is
responsible for the extraordinary rendition of Robin Long. And it is
Stephen Harper who seems determined to deport Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart, and Kimberly Rivera. But a large majority of Canadians want to end the painful limbo these young families have been forced to endure. They agree with former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who famously said, "Canada should be a refuge from militarism." Hopefully, this will one day be the case. In
the meantime, U.S. war resisters and their Canadian supporters are learning an age-old lesson: Power concedes nothing without a struggle.
--

ADDENDUM

"I feel as if I was a pawn, a gift from one regime to another (Harper to Bush)."

Robin Long Writes from Prison
from Courage To Resist website, www.couragetoresist .org
September 21, 2008
I am locked up at The Naval Consolidated Brig at Miramar, just North of San Diego. It's quite a change from Nelson, British Columbia, where I have called home. I feel as if I have been torn away from my home, family and friends! I feel as if I was a pawn, a gift from one regime to another (Harper to Bush).

For my Canadian friends, and people I don't know: Stop this! Fight this! Don't let another conscientious objector, war resister, person of conscience and morals to be deported.

For my fellow Americans: Keep courageously driving on to stop this war and undo the mess that the last 8 years of Bush has brought to our great country. I have received many letters of support. We are strong! We can be an example. We can spread the word and mobilize and protest the atrocities.
 
It is easy for me to be locked up knowing I stood up for what is right! This is but a bump in the road. They will never grind me down!
 
I will only come out stronger! And guess what? I can now protest from within this country!

Peace love light

Robin's favorite quotes:

"A soldier is just a uniform following orders. A warrior is a person
who stands up for what is right even in the face of adversity."

"Those that can get you to believe absurdities, can get you to commit atrocities!" - Voltaire

"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything" - Jimi Hendrix

"We can bomb the world into pieces, but we can't bomb it into peace!" - Michael Franti

Write to Robin at robinlong@courageto resist.org
Courage To Resist will print and mail your message to Robin.
 
 

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