Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Underground Railroad

The term "underground railroad" became best known for helping persecuted nations of people secretly escape their persecutors.

In the mid nineteenth century abolitionists ran the secret underground railroad helping slaves escape their bondage, running north to freedom in Canada.

In the mid twentieth century an underground railroad ran in Western Europe, helping Jews, intellectuals, gays and others escape persecution from the Nazis.

But between 1965 and 1973, over 50,000 Americans used a secret underground railroad to flee North to Canada from the United States, to escape the draft. Avoiding what they felt was an unjust war, the conscientious objectors were welcomed with open arms to a Canada that felt it should be a haven from militarism. And indeed one hopes that Canada is still that.

Today the Underground Railroad again runs from the United States into Canada, but it's not persecution or a draft that the passengers are fleeing, but death in an unjust war.

Jeremy Hinzman, a soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division and Brandon Hughey, another American soldier, are seeking refugee status in Canada in the hopes of avoiding extradition to a country that will probably incarcerate them but could put them to death for not wanting to fight in Iraq.

Mr. Hinzman has lost his initial plea for refugee status but his case will go before the higher court of appeals before he is sent back to the US.

On May 27th a press conference was held in the Trinity Street Church in Toronto bringing light to a question that many of us have not considered. As a nation Canada refused to participate in the war on Iraq because we felt it unjust. We, therefore, need to stand up and protect those who come to Canada hoping to escape the war and allow them refuge from persecution, as we did during Vietnam.

The War Resisters Support Campaign is circulating a petition asking the Canadian Government to live up to it's belief that the war on Iraq is wrong and therefore grant sanctuary to US war objectors.

The list of signatories to the petion is quite impressive.

As of the writing of this blog, the petition held 11,783 total signatures, one of which is mine and weirdly enough, one, #11,657 to be precise, belongs to one Mr. Paul Martin of Ottawa who states his Professional Affiliation as Canada Prime Minister.

Another; #11483 is Jan Wells of Alabama USA who wrote: My brother is in Iraq; 10th Mountain Division, #10843 is Jeff Doran of West La Have, Nova Scotia, a 1970 Conscientious Objector and #123, is Mr. Robert Weiss of Loxahatchee, Fl who wrote: Bush Lied & Our Soldiers Continue to Die.

It's already been proven that Bush and his Government lied in order to invade Iraq, and even though the American people decided in their last elections to allow their Government to continue the Iraq invasion, we as a sovereign nation, must in all conscience allow anyone who disagrees with their Government, the ability to object.

Read the War Resisters Support Campaign Petition written by Michelle Robidoux of War Resisters and if you agree. Please sign it.

And if you are American and are required to register for selective service or are of draft age and you are afraid that your Nation will reinstitute the draft, then this article, Conscientious Objection and Iraq by Joseph Wakelee-Lynch is required reading.

And yet another blog goes by with no mention of hot peppers... What is wrong with me???

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