9.15.2008

more september 13 reports, and keep the pressure on

I've updated this post with reports from more cities on the Day Of Action in support of US war resisters last Saturday.

The day was a great success, our strongest showing yet, and we must keep the pressure on. September 23, the Hinzmans' deportation date, is fast approaching. Jeremy has a court hearing on September 22. Whether the court will grant him a stay, as it did for Corey Glass, or whether Jeremy will be turned over to US authorities, like Robin Long, will be learned that day.

The Hinzmans are not alone. The Harts, the Riveras, and many other people's lives hang in the balance. We plan to dog Harper and the Tories at every turn. This election campaign is proving very convenient for us. At least they have to show up in public.

In fact, a group of Campaigners is greeting Harper right now... Details as I get them.

I'll be asking for your help this week. I ask a lot, I know. But think of it this way. If these courageous people can risk so much for peace the least we can do is make a phone call - or yell at a Tory - to support them.

Meanwhile, this from the west.

From the Calgary Herald:
War resister fights for soldiers' refuge

Canada should maintain its tradition of offering refuge to war resisters, says a U.S. military vet who fled north rather than continue fighting the war in Iraq -- and now fears deportation.

"Canada is like the last voice of reason left in the room, and that is something that has to be kept," said Chuck Wiley, 36, a former navy chief petty officer who deserted in 2007 after almost 17 years of service.

Wiley was in Calgary on Saturday to share his personal experiences as part of a pan-Canadian day of action to support American resisters of the Iraq war and demand the Harper government stop their deportations.

Wiley hoped the issue would be much more visible during the current federal election campaign.

But Calgary MP Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism, said war resisters are a legal issue the courts have already spoken on, not a political matter.

"Other parties want a special category for war deserters," Kenney said in an interview. "We think that would be completely unfair."

On Saturday, Wiley spoke at Parkdale United Church.

Wiley said that during a 2006 deployment he saw parts of the Iraq conflict he had not seen before and started asking questions that were not welcomed. "I really started to get a bad feeling about what I was involved with," Wiley explained.

He said he asked for a transfer but received a "slap in the face" when he learned he had been reassigned to another carrier, due to sail to Iraq in less than four months.

Wiley began to consult about his options, which he says were to go back to Iraq or go to jail. He came to Canada and has been living outside of Toronto since February 2007.

After a denied claim for refugee protection, Wiley is waiting to hear from Canadian Border Services about removal procedures.

"It's not just about what happens to the 50 to 230 of us that are up here running around. This, I think, will have a lasting impact on the rights of soldiers in any war," Wiley said.

And from the Edmonton Journal:
Let war resisters remain in Canada, protesters demand

About two dozen protesters gathered outside City Hall on Saturday to demand that Canada give sanctuary to U.S. citizens opposing the war in Iraq.

Organizers of the rally, sponsored by the Council for Canadians and the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism, said the federal government is ignoring the will of the Canadian public by refusing to allow resisters to remain in the country.

"As we know, Canada welcomed war resisters back in the '60s and '70s during the Vietnam era, and we can't understand why that isn't continuing today," coalition spokeswoman Marie Chidley said. "We believe it would be an injustice not to allow these young people to stay in Canada." The federal government requires U.S. soldiers who have fled to Canada to go through a refugee process.

Last November, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear appeals from two U.S. soldiers who unsuccessfully sought refugee status on the grounds they opposed the war in Iraq.

The first American war resister deported from Canada was Pte. Robin Long, who following his return had a Colorado court martial in August and was sentenced to 15 months in jail.

Chidley said many deserters go underground when they flee to Canada, so it's not known exactly how many are here, but the number is thought to be as high as 200.

Organizer Aaron Skaley said he'd like to see the matter become an election issue, but the only federal candidate present at the rally was Edmonton Centre Marxist-Leninist Peggy Morton.

Many of the protesters held signs calling for the election of an "antiwar government." They also demanded the immediate withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan, which Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised last week would take place in 2011.

3 comments:

David Heap said...

In fact, a group of Campaigners is greeting Harper right now... Details as I get them.

This just in from London, Ontario: with only two days notice, dozens of Londoners took to the streets in front of the Convention Centre where the Harper campaign had stopped to meet with their party faithful. Our chants included

End the Harpocracy, listen to democracy, let the Hinzman family stay, NOW!

and

Listen to the nation, stop the deportations!

Joined by some autoworkers with the local Labour Council (calling for more support for manufacturing jobs -- Harper out, jobs in! Harper out, resisters in!,) we occupied 4 lanes of York Street for over an hour and held up the campaign buses (the valiant Commander Steve reportedly snuck out the back way). Kudos to London's police who facilitated the whole event by blocking traffic and keeping the whole thing safe.

Lots of fun, a great spirit and a great crowd. Some links to photos (and maybe video) to follow.

L-girl said...

David, this is awesome!! Will someone be posting about this on the London Resisters site? If so, I'll wait and link to that. If not, I can turn your comment into a post. Your call. Great work!!!

Cornelia said...

End the Harpocracy, listen to democracy
Listen to the nation, stop the deportations

Absolutely cool!!!
Om the issue raised in one of the articles why the Canadian government policy is less favorable nowadays, among other aspects, the first thing that came to my mind was:
Trudeau was great and kind-hearted and reasonable and courageous on the issue and dared to stand up to the Johnson / Nixon, I guess? US Government regarding Vietnam war resisters but Harper is unfortunately a political accomplice of the Bush Administration...