War resisters win support
Published Mar 21, 2009 9:10 AM
On the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, support is growing for war
resisters in the United States and Canada in the wake of new deportations and
The Canadian government moved to deport Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera and
her family. Rivera was the first woman U.S. soldier to seek refuge in Canada,
after deciding she could no longer participate in the U.S. war in Iraq. She
went to Canada with her husband and two young children in January 2007. In
November 2008, they had a new daughter, Canadian-born Katie.
Kimberly Rivera and her family–spouse
Mario Rivera, children Christian,
and newborn Katie.
Meanwhile the U.S. Army charged Spc. Clifford Cornell with desertion. Cornell
was deported from Canada last month. He surrendered himself to authorities at
Fort Stewart, Ga., on Feb. 17, after being denied refugee status in Canada. He
left Fort Stewart four years ago when his artillery unit was ordered to
Cornell’s attorney, James Branum, told Workers World he waived an Article
32 pretrial hearing on the desertion charges in hopes of negotiating a reduced
charge. “Cliff Cornell is a conscientious objector who voluntarily turned
himself in,” Branum said.
Branum wants the hearing officers to take that into account and not charge
Cornell with desertion. He noted that the base commander can be influenced to
reduce any sentence the hearing officers might impose. The court-martial is
expected in one to two months.
In Canada, the War Resister Support Campaign has called a series of actions to
coincide with the sixth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. These include
solidarity meetings and rallies in cities across Canada and a phone-in campaign
to Prime Minister Harper and Immigration Minister Kenney, demanding they stop
the deportations and “let them stay.”
A demonstration is planned against former U.S. President Bush when he visits
Alberta. A vigil will be held at war resister Matt Lowell’s federal court
hearing to appeal the negative decision on his application for refugee status.
Demonstrations are also scheduled across Canada on April 4 during the NATO
summit, calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan. To support the War
Resister Support Campaign, go to www.resisters.ca.
In the U.S., Courage to Resist has launched a defense fund for Cliff Cornell
and a national week of letter writing to show support for war resisters March
16-23. For more information, see Couragetoresist.org.
Courage To Resist director Jeff Paterson commented: “The U.S. war against
the Iraqi people remains illegal today, just as when George Bush and Dick
Cheney started it. President [Barack] Obama should bring all our troops home
now. And he should grant amnesty to Cliff Cornell and hundreds of GIs who
refused to take part in an occupation that has killed untold tens of thousands
of men, women and children.”
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