War resister has to go
Fri, October 10, 2008
By JOE MATYAS
Londoners demonstrate downtown to support Matt Lowell's appeal
A U.S. war resister living in London was told yesterday he has until
Oct. 28 to get out of Canada.
As Matt Lowell, 24, was in Niagara Falls getting the bad news from
Canadian Border Services, about 40 supporters held a rush-hour
demonstration to support him at York and Wellington streets.
"Let them stay, let them stay," they chanted, referring to U.S. war resisters.
After being refused refugee protection by an immigration and refugee
board in January 2007, Lowell applied for a pre-removal risk
assessment and permission to apply for permanent residency in Canada
for humanitarian reasons.
"Matt is a person who would suffer consequences if he returned to the
United States," said David Heap, spokesperson for the demonstrators.
"He has been targeted as someone who has taken a stand against the
Iraq war and U.S. military courts have shown no mercy for those who
have spoken out against it as immoral."
Heap said supporters will help Lowell appeal yesterday's deportation order.
Lowell signed up for the U.S. infantry at age 17 in the wake of the
9/11 terrorist attacks.
"He wanted to go to Afghanistan to take down Osama Bin Laden and
al-Qaida," Heap said.
The Michigan native learned in 2003 he was going to be sent to Iraq instead.
During a short visit home, his enthusiasm waned when he learned the
U.S. was bombing Iraq, although no weapons of mass destruction --
once the justification to get tough with Iraq -- had been found.
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At that point, he felt "it was the wrong war," said Heap.
Lowell left Fort Lewis, Wash., three times without leave, the second
time two days before he was to leave for Iraq.
He returned the first time voluntarily and the second time under
"He was promised a discharge, but they charged him with desertion
instead -- for failure to go to Iraq," said Heap. "His commanding
officer was requesting court martial and seven years in a military prison."
After that, Lowell went AWOL a third time, settling in London in
2005. He's been working for a telecom company where he recently had a
promotion, said Heap.
Lowell is one of four Iraq war resisters living in London, he said,
adding there about 50 across Canada.
Polls show a majority of Canadians oppose the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, said Heap. About 64 per cent of Canadians support
letting war resisters stay in the country and also favour ending
deportation proceedings, he said.
"More and more people are asking why our government is ignoring the
will of Canadians, in effect becoming enforcers for the U.S. military."
As the demonstrators displayed their support for Lowell and other war
resisters by brandishing large banners, one senior citizen staged a
"Any judge that would let him stay doesn't have any (nerve)," said
Marlene Barnes, 70, waving a placard of her own that called war
resisters "panty waist cowards."
Barnes said her grandfather served in the Boer War, her father the
First World War, three brothers in the Second World War and a
grandson is serving in Afghanistan.
Deserter ordered back to U.S.
Resister who has lived in London for 3 years could face 7-year term
Oct 10, 2008
dale anne freed
When he enlisted for duty not long after watching the televised Sept.
11 attack on New York City, Matt Lowell was a patriotic 17-year-old
Michigan high school student.
Now a disillusioned 24-year-old war resister who fled to Ontario
three years ago, Lowell could face seven years in prison for charges
of desertion and missing movement, he told the Star last night when
reached in London, Ont., where he works in computer technology
support and has lived with friends for the past three years.
"Obviously, I'm not too thrilled about it. It was something I
expected," said Lowell after a meeting yesterday at Canada Border
Services Agency in Niagara Falls where he was ordered out of Canada
by Oct. 28. "I was in school (Grade 12) when the initial attack came.
They basically stopped classes and turned on the news. We watched the
second plane hit the World Trade Center. At that point I was
He went right down to an army recruiter to enlist. But because he was
only 17, he had to wait. Lowell enlisted in the summer of 2002.
"What made me change my mind was a letter that a friend sent home
from a friend who joined the military at the same time I did. He went
to Iraq first."
"In one of the letters he (the friend) sent home, he was telling his
mom he had to shoot a little kid because the kid picked up a gun,"
Lowell recalled. "Then (after) everything on the news and finding out
that Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, no involvement with
Al Qaeda at the time and absolutely no weapons of mass destruction,
then I started to question what the military actually stood for."
Now Lowell says he feels disillusioned. "In my mind the military is
supposed to protect its people and protect its country. And what's
going on in Iraq is basically enforcing their will on another
nation," Lowell said last night.
But it came as no surprise he was ordered back to the U.S.
"The decision that I got on the initial hearing – the illegality or
legality of the war – was not going to be allowed into the evidence
because it had no basis on our claim ... it was pretty much do what
you can to stall the process," Lowell said.
"It was not an unexpected decision," he added.
After a voluntary return to the U.S. in 2004, he was told he would be
discharged, he recalled. Then a stop loss came into effect, he said.
"I was in the process of getting kicked out when the stop loss turned
into a charge of desertion."
"What (stoploss) means is due to a shortage of personnel, anybody who
was in the process of getting out of the military, their contracts
have now been extended."