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Iraq veteran faces deportation, wins support

Published Jul 2, 2008 9:47 PM

The Canadian government is facing a surge of pressure and protest by supporters of U.S. war resisters in Canada as it moves to deport the resisters, even after a majority vote in Parliament that it “should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions.” The pressure and protest campaign is having an impact: The first resister the Canadian government ordered to leave, Corey Glass, saw his deadline to leave extended from June 12 to July 9. Since then Glass and others facing deportation have publicly announced plans to stay, with widespread Canadian support.

Supporters across Canada and the U.S. have sent thousands of letters to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (email [email protected]) and Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley (email [email protected]) demanding that the resisters be allowed to stay. In the U.S. the campaign is led by Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Courage to Resist and Project Safe Haven.

Gerry Condon of Project Safe Haven noted that Amnesty International has also weighed in, stating that Corey Glass should be considered a conscientious objector and that if he were returned to the U.S. to be court-martialed and imprisoned, AI would consider him a prisoner of conscience.

Veterans for Peace is encouraging its 7,000 members to contact the Canadian government directly through a July 2 International Phone-In to Canadian Immigration Minister Finley. The War Resisters Support Campaign, based in Toronto and Vancouver, expects thousands of calls from both Canada and the U.S. on July 2. (See resisters.ca/actions.html.)

In addition, vigils and delegations to Canadian consular offices throughout the U.S. are planned on July 9, led by VFP, Courage to Resist and Project Safe Haven.

Courage to Resist is also spearheading a letter-writing campaign. Find sample letters and contact information at www.couragetoresist.org/canada.

Camilo Mejia, national chairperson of Iraq Veterans Against the War, sent a powerful open letter to Canada supporting the resisters. He wrote on behalf of IVAW that “it is because of what we saw and experienced [in Iraq] that we support our brothers and sisters seeking a new home in Canada. They are avoiding participation in a criminal, illegal and immoral occupation so that other families can live in peace in their own land. They are doing the right thing!”

The letter concluded: “We call upon the Canadian government to implement the motion stopping all deportations of U.S. war resisters and allowing them to stay in Canada, not only because it is your duty to the people you represent to heed to their will, but also because it is a clear statement of support and solidarity for the people of Iraq.”

In addition to the Parliamentary resolution, a poll in early June by Canada AM on Canadian television recorded that 63 percent of Canadians favor letting U.S. war resisters stay.

The struggle to make Canada a sanctuary for war resisters takes on greater importance as more soldiers refuse to return to Iraq. The increasing support for resisters demonstrates widespread opposition to the war and determination to stop it the simplest way: by helping the troops refuse to fight.