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Freedom Road: U.S. Soldiers Defect to Canada

found this on victoria indymedia thought it might be of interrest
Freedom Road: U.S. Soldiers Defect to Canada
U.S. Army privates Brandon Hughey and Jeremy Hinzman are seeking asylum in Canada, having deserted from the U.S. Army in opposition to the occupation of Iraq. Their legal struggle for political asylum will be a test of Canada's position regarding U.S. military personnel who object to being used as cannon fodder by the Bush regime to further its expansionist goals in the Gulf region.

Hinzman, as well as his young family, and Hughey are represented by Jeffry House, a lawyer who has begun the process of applying for refugee status and hopes to convince immigration officials that Jeremy and Brandon "should not have been forced to take part in an illegal war that violates basic norms of human decency."

The stakes are high for US deserters and enlisted resistors, who may face the death penalty or long prison terms if deported to face US military courts. Will Canada stand on our Vietnam-era tradition of offering asylum? Or will we cave to the predictable US pressure and threats?
toughie 03.Jun.2004 15:34

Teddy Ruxpin (the lousy typist)

I would really like to see how this same post would be responded to on one of the canadian indymedia boards, if for no other reason than the difference in perspectives.

Personally, I think odds are dim for these troops, not because I disagree with them (I completely support these defecting troops), but because their argument lacks the legal merit previous generations used. It is one thing to flee a draft, quite another thing to flee a military you volunteered to join (even if you never expected your volunteer military to do the wierd things it is doing now).

Of course I am just talking out my ass here. I have not been to Canada in years, was not old enough to remember the court cases of the Vietnam age and only have a handful of Canadian friends. I have no idea how the Canadian courts will act, I am just guessing. I think the trials of Tre Arrow will give us some decent insight. If the courts decide Arrow is a vandal rather than a terrorist, even if they still deport him, that gives a ray of hope for these troops.

Underground railroad through Cascadia 03.Jun.2004 18:08

This story

reminds me of the underground railroad of the slavery days. Abolitionists, slaves, and ex-slaves formed a network of safe-houses, transportation, and information to help escaped slaves reach the free states and often, beyond them, Canada. In one of the coolest efforts of political art ever, coded information about these routes to freedom were sewn into quilts and other household goods. That was a way of letting the still trapped slaves know where to go once they escaped, and who to contact. Without knowing that a route of escape and support existed, many slaves would have been reluctant to try to run.

Let em stay 03.Jun.2004 19:51


So, I did a little reading on these two because I did not know what the circumstances of their cases were. One of them atempted to file for conscientious objector status and was denied, and began that process before 9/11, too. Him, I can respect. The Army tried to screw him, and instead of letting them, he left the country. I think he's a good candidate for refugee status and I wish him well. The other one sounds like a dumb kid who signed up for the money (post 9/11!) and then freaked out when he found out he was not going to get away with the loot without getting shot at. While I cannot say I respect him, I do not think he ever belonged in the military, so I suppose he oughta stay up there too.

Enter these guys' names in google and you'll get plenty of background material. What I did not find though was anything which gave me much insight into whether or not their applications for refugee status have a ghost of a chance of getting approved. I have asked for some input from some folks who might know, so maybe I will have an update for y'all soon.

For whatever reason 04.Jun.2004 02:43


Well for what ever reason members of the US Armed Forces defect to Canada for..

Its Dessertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) - Article 85


People who join the US Armed forces volunteer to serve and swear or affirm a oath to obey the orders of those above them and follow established regulations and instructions to them.

Now these two gentleman probably had a change of heart but there are other ways to do it without desserting the military.

I know I am going to receive flak for posting this but its a fact and to me.. it was the wrong thing to do in the way they did it.. and then bring the press into it.. that only nails you if you come back.

Here's a bit more 04.Jun.2004 07:55


This article gives a bit of background. I only began learning of this last night so my opinion has evolved some. First the article:


I have problems judging these guys negatively. If ever there was a war that qualified as a criminal enterprise, this would be it (and others do, too). In posession of the facts I would have likely ended up in the stockade for refusing to fight. I do not think I would have run for it, but I can't know that, I never had to make that choice.

I did my service and I have an honorable discharge. I am reasonably proud of that, but I was a different person back then. I was also a lucky SOB, serving when I did (81-85). There were no major conflicts at that time. I was not forced to make such a decision, one which I would not have been equipped to make now that I think about it. I was functioning off a standard high school education which, as we all know now, was badly skewed (and it's not much better now). I had never heard of Gen Smedley Butler's speech "War is a Racket", or the incidents to which it refers. I did not know about Tonkin Bay or the sinking of the Maine. I did not know of the Northwoods document and the way that it would call into question the official record of any attack the US suffered since... Had I known, I would likely never have joined in the first place. But that was then, and I did not know.

These fellows say they have educated themselves after the fact of their enlistment. It seems to me that *IF* this is true, refusing to support what they believed to be an illegal enterprise was an obligation under the rules I recall being taught in basic training about illegal orders. Their method of doing so may or may not be questionable, but I do not think the fact they did so is.

Not So Easy Anymore 04.Jun.2004 08:43


Draft dodging to Canada is much more difficult after 911. In December 2001 the USA and Canada signed a "Smart Border Declaration". Within this is a "pre-clearance agreement" which is intended to monitor "security risks"; this plan calls for the sharing of "advance passenger information" and the development of a jointly held immigration database and programs for "joint removals of deportees." It is widley believed that this will also be used to squash future draft dodging.

in canada 04.Jun.2004 19:52

Ron Snowshoe

they'll get PAID assistance, and depending on public tears, lefty judges, asshole polits, braindead zealous rights gangs, we'll see if the apparent deserters get their stay. Thing is, not them, but what happens after if they're freed and the potential for thousands more? should be interesting.