celebrate international day of conscientious objectors with a few clicks

If you have not done so already, please click here to send a message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, calling on them to rescind Operational Bulletin 202.

Today, May 15, is the International Day of Conscientious Objectors, originally organized by War Resisters’ International. On May 15, 2011, the War Resisters Support Campaign calls on the Canadian government to honour the human right to conscience by rescinding “Operational Bulletin 202”.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won a majority with only a small increase in popular support – under 40% of the vote. US Iraq War resisters in Canada have always had the support of two-thirds of Canadians, and the recent federal election has not changed that. Parliament voted twice to let US war resisters stay, and the Federal Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that war resisters’ beliefs must be taken into account when their refugee claims are heard.

Yet, in July 2010, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney issued Operational Bulletin 202. This directive instructs immigration officers to flag all US war resisters and label them as potentially inadmissible – before even hearing their cases.

In an open letter to the Government of Canada, Amnesty International Canada said: "Operational Bulletin 202 misstates the law and seeks to intrude on the independence of both IRB members and Immigration Officers. To be consistent with Canada’s international obligations under both human rights and refugee law, Amnesty International urges you immediately to withdraw the bulletin."

Former Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) Chair Peter Showler wrote a sternly worded open letter to Minister Kenney. Mr. Showler said that Operational Bulletin 202 “sets a basic principle of refugee law on its head”, and he reminded Minister Kenney that “conscientious objection to military service, whether by draft resisters or deserters, is a widely recognized ground for granting refugee protection, both in Canada and internationally. . . It is fundamentally wrong-headed and a violation of the UN Refugee Convention to suggest that deserters are automatically inadmissible to Canada before hearing their claim because desertion is an offence in their own country.”

You can read Peter Showler's letter here.

Click here to send a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the government, calling on them to rescind Operational Bulletin 202.

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