Sun, January 27, 2008
By KATHY RUMLESKI, FREE PRESS REPORTER
Speaking in reserved tones and noting he wasn't telling his audience
the worst of his encounters, a young American war resister explained
yesterday why he had to get away from duty in Iraq.
At the beginning of January, Josh Randall, 20, returned to the United
States for an 18-day break and determined he would never go back to
work as a medic with the armed forces in Iraq.
"I found out how wrong this war is. I flew into Detroit and I crossed
the border in Windsor," Randall told a small crowd at the London
Central Library gathered to hear him and another resister, Linjamin
"I was exposed to many things I don't have the intestinal fortitude
to talk about in front of people," said Randall, whose wife is from London.
But what the Texas native did say was tragic and disturbing.
Randall tended to a 10-year-old boy housed in a detainee centre in
Iraq who was so scared of him he was shaking and crying.
"He was deathly afraid of me."
Involved in a raid on a household, Randall had to walk away from a
small girl injured from explosive splinters in her stomach when U.S.
forces moved in to look for "supposed terrorists," he said.
Randall was told not to worry about the child because she would be
taken to hospital.
He argued: "I've been to the local hospital. I know they can't fix this.
"I still regret not arguing more."
Finally, when Randall looked into the face of a dying soldier and he
couldn't help him, he knew he had to get out.
"He looks at me and says, 'Why?' I had no answer about why this guy died."
Randall has found safe harbour in London and he's applying for
permanent residency in Canada.
"We're going to protect you," a woman at the back of the room
promised when Randall had finished his speech.
Randall could face as much as 15 years in prison for desertion.
He said he feels confident he won't be hounded by the U.S. military
as it doesn't have the time to track down him or others.
Yesterday was the National Day of Action in support of U.S. war
resisters and about 50 American veterans of the Iraq War and others
gathered at the Canadian Embassy in Washington to demand that the
Canadian government allow hundreds of resisters to remain in Canada.
Locally, the War Resisters Support Group of London organized the
library event, wrote letters to MPs and sold T-shirts and buttons to
help support Randall, Mull and another U.S. resister living here.