A soldier's right to follow their conscience


There were a number of incidents and orders in Afghanistan that did not sit right with Jules Tindungan. He says he cited moral and ethical reasons when he asked the U.S. military to transfer him out of infantry duty and when he was refused he went AWOL. He is among the estimated 200 men and women who came to Canada seeking refugee status as War Resisters. The Pentagon calls them Deserters. Today, our ongoing look at ethical dilemmas - Line in the Sand - asks if and when a soldier has the right to follow his or her conscience in a time of war.

U.S. War Resister, Jules Tindungan

We started this segment with the sound of grenades fired at a mountainside near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. Former US soldier Jules Tindungan says this kind of indiscriminate attack put the lives of Afghan civilians in danger. It was the kind of mission that ultimately led him to desert. He eventually joined dozens of other US war resisters applying for refugee status in Canada.

But so far, the Canadian government has been unsympathetic. A half-dozen war resisters have already been deported and are in U.S. prisons. Last week Kimberly Rivera -- the first female US soldier to flee to Canada, and a mother of four -- was sentenced in the US to ten months in prison.

Now, debate rages on both sides of the border over a soldier's right to follow their conscience in wartime. We're looking into this debate as part of our project on ethics, Line in the Sand: Dilemmas that Define Us.

Jules Tindungan joined us in our Toronto studio.

Panel: Alyssa Manning / Lieutenant Colonel Peter Kilner

Our next two guests fight on different fronts when it comes to soldiers following their conscience.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Kilner is an army officer and Academy Professor at West Point Military Academy. It is important to note that he represents his own views and is not a spokesperson for the US army or government. He joined us from West Point, New York.

Alyssa Manning is a Canadian immigration lawyer who's represented most of the US war resisters in Canada including Jules Tindungan.

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch.

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