Robin Long, a Boise man who fled the U.S. Army for Canada in protest of the war in Iraq, has been released from a military prison in California, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Long was held for 12 months of a 15 month sentence, finishing his sentence at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego. Long was sentenced last August, after Canada deported him back to the U.S. Long has a young family still in Canada and according to the Gazette, started some type of water conservation business there.
L.A. Times reporter Tony Perry spoke to Long, who said he missed his son during his time in the brig.
"Instead I woke up to reveille and I saw high fences and razor wire," said Long, from Boise, Idaho. "This punishment was for having a moral opposition to the Iraq war."
Long plans to study massage therapy in the San Francisco Bay Area and will apply for permission to return to Canada. Long's attorney, James Branum, told citydesk this morning that Long's wife has multiple sclerosis and is able to get treatment in Canada, whereas she would not have coverage here.
On March 26, some of Long's writing was read aloud in the Canadian Parliament, during a debate on U.S. war resistors:
In 2004, when Jeremy Hinzman applied for refugee status in Canada, the federal government stepped in at his refugee hearing and said that evidence challenging the legality of the war in Iraq cannot be used in his case.
The U.N. Handbook for Refugees and the Nuremburg Principals say: “a soldier of an army that is involved in an illegal war of aggression has a higher international duty to refuse service. They also have the right to seek refugee protection in any country that is signatory to the Geneva Convention”.
By refusing to allow him, and by precedent all other claimants, the right to use the argument that the war was illegal, the decision closed the door on that legal avenue for refugee protection.
The invasion of Iraq was clearly an illegal act of aggression. The U.S. was not under attack or the imminent threat of attack from the nation of Iraq. The action was also not approved by the U.N. Security Council.
By taking this stance, the Conservative government is condoning the invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq.
Is this what Canadians want? A majority of Americans want it to end and have also realized it to be a mistake. Canadians have long known it to be wrong. Why is the minority Conservative government still holding onto the idea and still deporting war resisters?
Why are they separating families and being complicit in the incarceration of morally strong young men and women? What message is this sending?
Parliament voted to let war resisters remain. In June of 2008 Canada’s Parliament voted on a non-binding resolution to allow war resisters and their families permanent resident status. The vote passed. In agreement with the vote, a poll of Canadian opinion showed overwhelming support for the resolution.
But in defiance of Parliament and the will of the people, the Conservative minority government led by [the] Prime Minister and Immigration Minister ignored the bill. The government stated that all refugee claimants are give a fair chance to plead their case at the Refugee Board, and special treatment to these Iraq resisters wasn’t fair to the other claimants. The government has also stated in the past that we are not legitimate claimants because we are from the U.S. which they say has a fair and transparent justice system and we wouldn’t be singled out for being political.