Tattooed war resisters -

Tattooed war resisters


It was a very tattooed crowd when American Iraq war resisters were on the Hill to celebrate the passage of a non-binding motion brought in by NDP MP Olivia Chow to let them stay in Canada.

Detroit’s Richard Droste, who served four years in the army as a combat engineer and is a scorpio, sports a scorpion tattoo.


Aslan Lamarche arrived in Toronto in March with his arm already tattooed with the Marine Corp symbol that combines an eagle, globe and anchor. Once in Canada he got “Miami” and number 305, Miami’s area code, tattooed on his wrist to remind him of home and “Friendship” in Hindi on his arm.

Garrett Riotte shows off his pirate flag tattoo with his boot camp motto “Fortune favors the brave” which he got while in the marines.


Lee Zaslofsky of the War Resisters Support Campaign came to Canada in 1970 to avoid the Vietnam war. “It was a lot easier for us,” says Zaslofsky. “We had a government in power that was a lot more sympathetic with Mr. Trudeau. We were able to apply at border to get permanent residency in Canada. These war resisters are having to go through a long drawn out process.” Zaslofsky (right) is seen here with NDP leader Jack Layton.


Layton presented him with small casting of Parliament.


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Tattooed war resisters

  1. I’m the guy in the second photo, green jacket, next to the guy drinking the mineral water. And no, I don’t actually have any tattoos.

    First of all, it’s great that Macleans published the photos. The tattoo angle, while on the surface seems like a dumb story, actually speaks to the deep moral committment we all made when we casted away our arms and came to Canada.

    Several of the guys in that photo have Marine or Army tattoos. When they got the tattoos, they believed very, very, very strongly in the military. They, as we all did, believed that “duty honour country” must come first, above all else.

    These tattoos are permanent reminder that we didn’t take the easy road to Canada. It would have been much simpler to go to Iraq, return (if you did return) a hero, and collect benefits for the rest of your life (assuming the pentagon felt like living up to that end of the bargain). We came to Canada, though, because we see that being a part of the system, in whatever capacity, makes us just as immoral as the systems as a whole. For whatever reason, we came to this conclusion a little late…but we came to it all the same.

    More importantly, we came to Canada for the same reasons countless others have come to Canada…to simply live. We want nothing more than to work hard, make a life for ourselves, and contribute to Canadian society as our older brothers during Viet Nam did. We are not here to take, we are here to contribute whatever we can.

    We will always bear the reminder of our time in the US Military…some with tattoos, and some with psychological scars that will be carried like permanent ink on the mind. We now ask that you help us look past all that, and give us the same chance you gave the Viet Nam generation.

    • Do the US and the Canadians a favor and kill yourself.

  2. I’m a hard left winger. I despise Bush and cannot stand the outrageous breakdown of the rule of law (I live in LA). I believe the war is wrong and has always been wrong. But if the rule of law means anything, these protesters are wrong. There is no conscription. They signed up for the military. They were not coerced. They gave an oath. That doesn’t let them pick and choose.

    We may, as a country, disagree. That is our right. But the law means something, and that is our highest duty. Send them home.

  3. Dean P wrote:

    “But if the rule of law means anything, these protesters are wrong.”

    Except the rule of law includes abiding by international law, which dictates that wars of aggression are illegal.

    It is a soldier’s duty — and right — to refuse to fight in an illegal war.

    So these soldiers are not breaking the law by refusing to fight in the illegal war in Iraq.

    – JV

  4. Wow, sounds far more far right than far left… and lets remember that China has laws that allowed the masacre at Tiananmen Square.. so you are making an argument in support of regiems that oppose US mentality of freedom and democracy… if you have the power to make it law then everyone must obey… yeah right! ppffftt

    I liked the first response to the article, as it seemed to counter well the underlying implication of the story… by focusing on tatoo’s the article was appealing to its conservative base to reject such outlaw types from our supposedly civil society (which is not to say that I agree with this point of view) I just would rather have things made explicit, which of course doesn’t always happen).

    I also liked the latter response that reminds everyone that the war was illegal in the first place… the only problem is now with one world cop there is no one to arrest this rogue state from whatever wars its corporate masters want.

    Let US Iraq war resister’s stay in Canada!


  6. FYI:

    Last month 25-year-old U.S. Army PFC Robin Long became the first war resister since the Vietnam War to be forcefully deported from Canadian soil and handed over to military authorities. Robin is currently being held in the El Paso County Jail, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, awaiting a military court martial for resisting the unjust and illegal war against and occupation of Iraq. Robin will be court martialed for desertion “with intent to remain away permanently”—Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice—in early September. The maximum allowable penalty for a guilty verdict on this charge is three years confinement, forfeiture of pay, and a dishonorable discharge from the Army.

  7. When you raise your hand you swear ALLEGIANCE to the U.S. and to protect it against harm, foreign or domestic. You are fully aware what position you put yourself in and that it's not all fun and games. So many young men and woman enlist to get their big cash bonus, but don't want to fulfill their obligation once they get a little bored with it.
    You are pathetic and have no backbone at all! Canada, you can keep these pussies. They aren't even good enough to court martial.

    • Shut the fuck up you piece of shit open your God damn eyes and realize that the U.S is having an illegal war. I am Canadian, and i dont approve of this shit. they arent pussies they have just realized how low U.S has gone for just power. i believe they should have a chance in life, and to live free. i met a few of these young guys and honestly they are amazing people, only life took its toll on them, but you have no right you army sgt whos too much of a pussy to show ur name. my name is Sonia and i disagree with this false and childish war. leave these "deserters" alone. you have many more men to recruit so back off.

    • i didnt even need to say. u said it all for me.

  8. Garrett Riotte above (RIP 6/21/12) was my great nephew. I tried unsucessfully to tell him not to join the Marines.

    Uncle Dick
    USMC 1960-66
    Cuban Missile Crises GTMO October 1962
    Vietnam 1964
    Dominican Republic Invasion 1965

    Sadly, most people believe the mass media reports regarding the munificence of
    the United States and the evil of Socialism. The truth is that both the USA and
    the USSR were evil and their “Cold War” resulted in the deaths of millions of
    people, not in the name of Democracy or Socialism, but for the purposes of
    Power, Hegemony and Capitalism. Both nations were determined to suppress
    dissidents, exploit workers, keep wages low and profits high – not for the
    benefit of their citizens, but the benefit of their leaders and, particularly in
    the case of the USA, their own corporations.

    War is a Racket

  9. what a bunch of pussies. It’s not like they were drafted.