USA: Conscientious objector deported from Canada sentenced to 15 months imprisonment
War Resisters' International-London
1 September 2008
On 15 July, the Canadian government deported U.S. war resister Robin Long. Long was sentenced on 22 August to 15 months of confinement and dishonorable discharge, receiving credit for 40 days of time served. He will spend 2-3 weeks in a county jail outside of Fort Carson, Colorado before being transferred to a Army stockade.
Three years ago, Robin Long fled to Canada rather than fight a war in Iraq he deems immoral and illegal. On July 15th, the Canadian government forcibly returned Long to U.S. military custody, making him the first war resister deported from Canadian soil since the Vietnam War.
Long's court martial was held near Colorado Springs, where he was charged with desertion "with intent to remain away permanently." He was given the maximum time of confinement negotiated in a pre-trial agreement, despite the testimony of several supporters, including Colonel Ann Wright and Matthis Chiroux, an army journalist who recently refused to deploy to Iraq. Long's sentence stands as one of the longest handed to an Iraq War resister.
Long gave an impassioned testimony at his trial, in which he declared that he was still convinced that he had done the right thing morally, even if he did not make the most prudent legal and tactical decisions. He said that he was glad that he did not go to Iraq but wishes that there was another option available to him other than facing court martial and confinement.
Robin Long was issued a warrant for arrest by the Canadian Border Services Agency on 4 July of this year, on the grounds that he did not adequately report his whereabouts to the authorities, and he was told a few days later that he would be deported to the United States. Long appealed the order, and his supporters rallied throughout the United States and Canada, urging Canadian authorities to let him stay. Despite these efforts, Long was deported on 15 July, after the judge ruled that he would not suffer irreparable harm if returned to the United States.
Long's family remains in Canada, and before the trial, he expressed concern about the separation, which could last a number of years. "I have a son I wouldn't be able to see. It's kind of hard to think about that," he told Courage to Resist.
Canada is home to an estimated 200 U.S. soldiers refusing to serve in the Iraq War, and 64 percent of Canadians favor granting them permanent residence, according to a 27 June Angus Reid Strategies poll. The Canadian House of Commons passed a non-binding resolution 3 June, calling for a stop to the deportation of U.S. soldiers and allowing them to apply for permanent residency in Canada, but the resolution was ignored by the conservative Harper administration. Several other war resisters living in Canada face the immediate threat of deportation, including Jeremy Hinzman, who received a deportation order for 23 September.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Robin Long:
Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary
P.O. BOX 1000
Leavenworth, KS 66048
War Resisters' International calls
for letters of protest to the US government, and US authorities
abroad. A protest email to US President George W. Bush can be sent
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of conscientious objector Robin Long and all imprisoned conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International