I drove up to Jeremy’s hearing in Toronto with Bruce Beyer yesterday. We left early, he drove, I relaxed and we chatted. Bruce is passionate about the War resisters. He has a history with them. He left the US as a resister during the Vietnam War and has spent a lot of time in Canada. He follows their cases like they were his own children.
We met up with some resisters from the Vietnam war at the rally in front of the courthouse. Many of them had stayed in Canada, became citizens and now some work with the War Resister Support Campaign in Toronto. The "campaigners" as they call themselves work tirelessly to help our veterans who have chosen to follow their conscience rather than participate in the terror, occupation and killing our military has forced on the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The campaigners have been meeting every week for years trying to figure out how they can prevent the deportation of these men and women.
The video clip was filmed by Alex Lisman.
VFP will be showing his movie, "War resisters Speak Out" in Buffalo on June 4th at Hallwalls.
Jeremy came to Canada in 2004 with his family. He was the first GI War Resister from the Iraq war. Soon there would be many more.
Jeremy has been appealing decisions for years. When I see him with his family I am always amazed at how wonderful they are in spite of all they have had to go through. It has to be difficult planning a life as a family knowing that at any time they can forced out of the country and into an armed force in the States waiting to split up his family and throw him in prison. I remember the Vietnamese families being physically torn apart by our soldiers and beaten for trying to hold onto their children. This is the same military waiting to get a hold of Jeremy. Once you’ve seen these things over and over again, you know what we are capable of doing. He's been there; he knows what they are capable of doing.
To see them together tears me up. His wife's parents were refugees from the Vietnam War who managed to flee the country. I look into her eyes and see the beautiful women and children that lay in the rice paddy after we killed them. The irony is incredible. Jeremy was enough of a man to refuse to do the same thing to the people in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a infinite circle of irony and regret that speeds through my head. I, like so many soldiers are free because we didn’t have the insight or humanity to refuse. Jeremy knew what it was about and chose resistance.
Most of these resisters have have been to the wars at least once. They won’t do it again.
In the courtroom, Jeremy's son sat between me and his dad, fidgeting just enough to remind me that he is a normal eight year old boy. Having to listen to a judge express a lack of comprehension over and over had to be as boring to him as it was annoying to me and many of the people observing the hearing. The judge's performance was only outdone by the incompetant attorney for the Crown, Gold. I couldn’t help but wonder if the attorney’s performance even mattered or if the decision had been made before the hearing ever began.
The two women judges not only seemed to understand the case, but had some pointed questions for the crown that had to remain unanswered when they bounced off the incompetent, never shining Gold.
This was juxtaposed by the defense attorney, Alyssa Manning. She was all my organizational fantasies garbed in the same black robes as Gold. I am constantly looking for the paper I just printed or the name of some signicant individual. She alone shined. The onslaught of referrals to the stacks of tabbed preparation materials with copies that had been distributed to each of the judges was just the beginning. Her understanding of the material combined with her presentation, both the content and her incisive delivery blew my mind again and again. She was never at a loss about her case.
You should read Laura's blog, We Move To Canada, for the specifics.
I was honored to sit in the courtroom beside Jeremy and his son and all his supporters who filled the room to capacity. We have grown to love Jeremy and his family.