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Canada parliament supports U.S. war resisters

Published Jun 7, 2008 12:11 AM

The Canadian Parliament voted favorably June 3 on a motion to halt the deportations of U.S. conscientious objectors who are seeking a safe haven in Canada rather than fight in the illegal occupation of Iraq. The vote in the House of Commons was 137-110, with all the opposition parties—the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party— voting for the motion, and the ruling Conservative Party voting against.

The motion is nonbinding and could be overruled by the Conservative ruling party. Nevertheless, it is an important escalation of the campaign against the deportation of GI resisters.

The motion to halt the deportations is a strong step against a series of recent reactionary rulings issued by the Canadian Supreme Court. The court’s refusals to hear the appeals for refugee status filed by numerous GI resisters have paved the way for the possible deportation of dozens, if not hundreds, of conscientious objectors.

The vote in the Canadian Parliament comes on the heels of a deportation order given to GI resister Corey Glass. Glass, an Indiana resident, signed up for the National Guard in 2002. He was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and served five months as a military intelligence sergeant before going AWOL to protest what he deemed an “illegal and immoral” war. Glass moved to Toronto, Canada, in August 2006.

In a recent interview, Glass said of his decision to join the National Guard: “I signed up to defend people and do humanitarian work filling sandbags if there was a hurricane. I should have been in New Orleans, not Iraq.” (Toronto Star, May 22).

On May 21, Glass was ordered to leave Canada by June 12 and return to the U.S., where he will likely face imprisonment. In the wake of the Glass ruling, and the run- up to the Canadian Parliament vote, GI resisters and their supporters in Canada and the U.S. have been intensifying the grass-roots struggle in support of more progressive policies towards GI resisters seeking asylum in Canada.

Court martial at Ft. Gordon, Ga.

You can add another name to the growing list of U.S. military personnel who are taking a stand against participating in the U.S. occupation army.

Pfc. Ryan Jackson, now age 25, joined the Army in May 2005, hoping that time in the military would offer a path to a college education and a future career.

He went to South Korea as part of the 35th Signal Brigade. There he began to question what purpose the U.S. military and foreign policy really served.

By the fall of 2007, Jackson determined that he would not participate in war and attempted to gain an administrative discharge. He went AWOL in December 2007, contacted Courage to Resist and other GI support groups, secured the services of a civilian lawyer, James M. Branum, and turned himself in at Ft. Sill, Okla., on April 4, 2008.

On the eve of Jackson’s court-martial, a dozen or so supporters from Augusta and Atlanta, including members of the International Action Center, demonstrated outside the gates of Ft. Gordon. Another young soldier stopped by the vigil to express his solidarity and intent to start a chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War at the base.

The following morning, May 29, several anti-war activists attended Jackson’s court-martial. He pled guilty to the charges but made an eloquent statement declaring his actions a form of “civil disobedience.” He was sentenced to 100 days in confinement, reduction of rank to E-1, forfeiture of pay and given a bad conduct discharge.

Since he is being credited with time served, Jackson will be out in 29 days. He plans on speaking at the Veterans for Peace conference and going on a Courage to Resist tour later this summer.

A recent, nearly month long, anti-war march through upstate New York, initiated by the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), and attended by many GI resisters, was a marked success in helping to build support for GI resistance. The march through working-class towns of upstate New York—many of which are sparsely populated but have numerous community members in the armed services—was a crucial step in building broad-based solidarity with the brave men and women who have taken a principled stand against the unjust wars of U.S. imperialism.

GI resisters are courageously leading the struggle against unjust imperialist war. The movement in support of their brave actions must continually strive to match their sacrifice. For more information, see couragetoresist.org.