Ben Stimson was born in and lived most of his life in Britain. However, due to the lack of any real future in the land of his birth, he travelled to Donbass where he volunteered to help locals in their fight for freedom against the regime in Kiev.
Stimson was never one driven by ideology and had no prior connections to the people of Donbass, but he went and volunteered, even though he never fired a shot in anger.
Independent journalist Graham Phillips spent time with Stimpson in England and allowed him to explain his story in full. You can view the entire documentary at the bottom of this piece.
He returned to Britain from Donbass merely to liquidate his assets after which time he planned on moving to Russia where he spoke of having business opportunities that he did not have elsewhere.
However, he is currently behind bars, facing sentencing for terrorism related charges even though Ben Stimson is by no objective definition a terrorist or anything close.
Volunteers of many varieties frequently fight in conflicts that do not concern their motherland. Many leftists from the west fight with Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq and many Wahhabists/Salafists from all over the world, including Europe, fight for ISIS, al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups.
During the Spanish Civil War, individuals from many countries including the United States flew to Spain to participate in the conflict.
The issues that are raised are therefore three fold.
1. Should individuals be uniformly banned from volunteering in a foreign conflict not involving the armed forces of their country of citizenship?
If this is the case, one could easily apply a uniform conviction for such people with sentences that ought to be next to nothing should the individual who volunteered abroad wish to return. Any further sentences would only be related to the nature of the activities a volunteer engaged in while abroad.
Because Mr. Stimpson’s country is not actively fighting with its army in Donbass, there can be no conceivable way in which aiding the Donbass fight for freedom could be injurious to the British public in any way, shape or form.
2. Are some volunteers abroad freedom fighters and are others sinister?
No one will ever universally agree on this. Sweden for example has recently taken the decision to not punish but to instead use government aid to help those returning to Sweden after fighting for ISIS.
If a country like Sweden does not believe that those who fought for ISIS are dangerous and ISIS is among the most universally reviled groups on the planet, there is clearly no chance to ever come up with a universal agreement on who is a good volunteer versus who should be punished for an act of malicious volunteerism.
Consequently, the idea of even trying to differentiate between ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ volunteers simply opens up more costly cans of worms than is worth while.
This leads to the third possible solution which is theoretically the best while unfortunately the most difficult to enforce, though critically not impossible in a rational society.
3. Allow ALL volunteers to fight legally abroad and only make arrests under separate but related war crimes charges when and if applicable
This solution is not only just but it is the least restrictive method of approaching this issue which admittedly effects very few people in most countries.
It is already illegal to engage in war crimes or crimes against humanity both on an individual basis, from the position of being a mercenary or from the position of being a volunteer (as well as being a regular soldier).
The fight in Donbass is a fight for freedom, it is a fight among democratic activists who are fighting for their young republics (Donetsk and Lugansk) against a Ukrainian regime that refuses to give them their freedom.
The Donbass fighters have not waged war against the regime, but forces of the regime have waged war on the young Donbass republics. In this war, the regime has used chemical weapons on civilian targets, targeted civilians with conventional weapons, engaged in extra-legal assassinations in civilian locations, all the while its fighters have been caught out conducting child rape.
Even so, the bigger irony of this is that because the horrific war crimes committed by the Kiev regime do not directly impact a country like Britain, a UK man called Chris Garrett, aka Swampy, has fought with the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion which is supported by the regime Garrett even boasted about killing a man.
Far from being questioned in Britain by the authorities, he is not only walking free, but insulting Russia while doing so.
One is therefore witnessing the perverse spectre of Chris Garrett, an individual who killed in the name of a neo-Nazi battalion walking free, while Ben Stimpson who never fired a shot in anger faces prison time.
This is even worse than victors justice, it is a vicarious way of enforcing a political and geo-political agenda using poor people like Ben Stimpson as pawns.
If justice were truly blind, it would not matter that Ben Stimpson fought for freedom fighters whose goals are opposed by the British government of the day, all that ought to matter was that Ben Stimpson did not engage in any acts that harmed anyone.
It should also matter that no serious international body has accused the Donbass fighters of committing any crimes against humanity. The same cannot be said of the Ukrainian regime whose use of chemical weapons has incurred condemnation, just not in the west who are too busy hounding Syria based on false accusations that they have used and plan to use chemical weapons which as recently as 2014, the US admitted that Syria does not have. By the west’s own standards, the regime in Kiev should be legally removed from power.
This all goes back to the fact that not only is Ben Stimpson being treated unfairly, but he is the victim of gross double-standards. Domestic justice and foreign policy are two separate issues. If Ben Stimpson can be arrested and imprisoned for volunteering in Donbass, it is a short slippery slope before those who support Donbass are also harassed.
Quite rapidly, the battle for justice for a man who harmed not a single person and never intended to do so, becomes a battle for the free speech of everybody else.
Ben Stimpson’s only crime is falling on the wrong side of the western elite’s foreign policy position, yet he is being punished as a terrorist, just as Sweden helps actual terrorist fighters to live normal lives as though joining ISIS is perfectly acceptable.
The hypocrisy is as dangerous as it is mindbogglingly absurd.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.