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Dear Canada: Let War Resisters Stay!

by David Solnit & Bill Carpenter (wcarpent [at]
Jeff Paterson speaks.
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SF Bay Area Groups Join Int'l Days of Action
Call for Canadian Sanctuary for US War Resisters

David Solnit and Courage to Resist
January 25, 2008

In steady rain in the heart of San Francisco's Financial District veterans, anti-war organizers, Raging Grannies and people of faith gathered at the doors to the Canadian Consulate on California at Kearny Sts. After a vigil, short rally and the raging grannies antiwar rewrite of God Save the Queen, two representatives, Mike Wong and Pablo Paredes, went inside to meet with the Canadian Consulate, carrying a bundle with over 1000 letters from people across the US. Similar delegations took place today in DC, LA, NY, Seattle, and Minneapolis. Tomorrow, Saturday actions will take place in cities across Canada, led by the Canadian War Resisters Support Campaign.

Hundreds of U.S. military personnel are in Canada because of their decisions not to participate in U.S. wars and occupation in the Middle East. Currently there is no legal or political provision in effect in Canada, which affords U.S. war resisters the right to stay in the country. Deportation looms as real threat for many women and men who are seeking refuge from persecution north of the U.S. border, even as widespread support for the rights of resisters to stay grows among the Canadian people.

Supporters in Canada and the U.S. are taking action now to urge the House of Commons (which reconvenes in February) to follow the recommendation of its Standing Immigration Committee which voted on December 6, 2007 to recommend that the Canadian government immediately implement a program to allow Iraq War resisters (and resisters of any war not sanctioned by the United Nations) and their families to stay in Canada. This type of political action is considered crucial, as the possibility of resisters being granted refugee status in Canada by the courts was effectively denied when the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of U.S. resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey in their refugee cases.

After a 30-minute meeting, Mike Wong and Pablo Paredes came out reporting that the consul was receptive and very aware of all the pressure on consulates across the US. Mike Wong, a Vietnam veteran and war resister who spent 5 years in exile in Canada fleeing persecution from the U.S. military, said, "The war in Iraq is an open violation of both U.S. and international law, and is clearly illegal. Further, both U.S. and international law state that soldiers have the duty, not the option, to refuse illegal orders. I called upon the Canadian government to grant GI resisters the refugee status that they so clearly deserve." Pablo Paredes is an Iraq War era Navy Veteran who refused duty when his ship deployed for Iraq. He spoke of the hardships of for soldiers and their families who don't have adequate physical or mental healthcare and are forced to go on repeat tours of duty while injured or traumatized. Many soldiers also oppose the war—often from first hand experience-- on legal, human rights and humanitarian grounds.

GI and draftee resistance and desertion were essential to ending the Viet Nam War. Of the half million soldiers and draftees who went "AWOL" (Absent Without Leave) or deserted during Viet Nam, 100,000 took refuge in Canada.

Today, soldiers refusing to participate in illegal wars are a key part of a people power antiwar strategy to weaken the pillars of war and the policies of empire; these pillars include troops. corporate profiteers, media and funding. Iraq Veterans Against the War has been steadily growing with 37 chapters, including 3 active duty chapters. Courage to Resist, who initiated and coordinated the US actions, is escalating its support for the growing GI resistance movement and for the growing counter military recruitment movement.
§Let War Resisters Stay!
by David Solnit & Bill Carpenter
§Let War Resisters Stay!
by David Solnit & Bill Carpenter
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Eric Margolis (excerpt and link)
Wed, Jan 30, 2008 1:14AM
Tue, Jan 29, 2008 4:39PM
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