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U.S. Veterans and Other Citizens Ask Canada to Let War Resisters Stay
By David Swanson
On Friday at 3 p.m. in front of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., a group of veterans and other citizens is expected to make a demand that Canada allow hudreds of U.S. resisters to the occupation of Iraq to remain in Canada.
The Canadian government's Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration recently adopted a motion recommending that the government immediately implement a program to allow war resisters and their families to stay in Canada. It also calls for an immediate halt to deportation proceedings in these cases.
--War Resisters Support Campaign has called a mobilization to ensure--
1) that deportation proceedings against U.S. war resisters currently in Canada cease immediately; and
2) that a provision be enacted by Parliament ensuring that U.S. war resisters refusing to fight in Iraq have a means to gain status in Canada.
Friday's DC action was sponsored by DCOI, Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War (Ft. Meade and DC chapters), Courage to Resist, and War Resisters Support Campaign, as part of an international day of action.
More information can be found at http://www.couragetoresist.org
Below is a letter the group planned to deliver on Friday:
The Honourable Michael Wilson
Canadian Ambassador to the United States of America
501 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
January 25, 2008
Dear Ambassador Wilson,
We have chosen to contact you concerning a difficult task but a simple request: that the present Canadian government make true the vision of one of its great prime ministers Pierre Trudeau who said, "Canada should be a refuge from militarism."
Prime Minister Trudeau was referring to the war in Vietnam, but his sentiments hold true as once again the United States is embroiled in an illegal and immoral occupation into which Canada has refused to send troops. The Canadian government by not sending its own troops with the "coalition of the willing" recognized that the war was illegal in keeping with the Geneva Accords but will not, at present, allow US war resisters who are attempting to comply with international law the refuge that Prime Minister Trudeau spoke of so many years ago.
As soldiers who have served in Iraq and mothers of soldiers who have seen their sons returned broken, the members of the Washington DC and the Ft. Meade chapters of Iraq Veterans Against the War are asking that the Canadian government allow service members the functional ability to comply with international law without facing persecution from the military. Soldiers of consciences face not just prison time from the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) but also unofficial persecution, which has included unrelenting harassment and death treats. Thankfully, none of these death threats have been carried out, but it is only a matter of time before one is. This could, however, be avoided if Canada lives up to its reputation as an international refuge from militarism.
The members of the US military volunteer to fight when their country is in need of defense, but despite the volunteer label, service members cannot leave the military on their own accord. They are subject to the courts guidance for their consciences. But what is a service member to do when their conscience is directly conflicted by US policy? The UCMJ and military regulations only offer Conscientious Objection to those who disagree with all wars, but not those who would not fight in ones they believe to be illegal under international law. Some have chosen to violate their conscience while others have chosen to seek refuge in your country.
Canada once welcomed Americans who chose going north over violating their consciences. In return, Canada received a boost to its economy, as well as its moral authority in world politics. Some of those expatriates from America have become successful Canadians in both business and government. There is another generation of brave Americans applying to become Brave Canadians so our request is simple: LET THEM STAY!
Geoffrey Millard ______________________________________
DC Chapter president
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Trey Kindlinger ______________________________________
Ft Meade Chapter president
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Tina Richards _____________________________________
Mother of a Marine 80% disabled
from two tours in Iraq
Founder of Grassroots America