Since September 2014, seven US Iraq War resisters have received negative decisions in their cases. Two veterans were given removal dates (i.e., dates by which they must leave the country). One resister received a stay of removal and the government rescinded the second removal order at the last minute. These reprieves are extremely good news, but war resisters and their loved ones continue to feel stress and uncertainty.
The timing of these initial negative decisions was odd. After no movement on any cases for more than a year, seven cases — allegedly independent of one another — were suddenly announced as Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to increase Canadian support for the US's latest attack on the people of Iraq.
As the resisters continue their fight, they know that a majority of Canadians are on their side. Nearly two-thirds of Canadians support allowing US Iraq War resisters to remain in Canada. However, the Harper government continues to ignore both the will of the people and the will of Parliament, which has twice passed resolutions calling on Harper to allow war resisters to stay in the country. In addition, all of the opposition parties have recently reaffirmed their support for US war resisters in Canada.
The War Resisters Support Campaign is once again calling on Canadians to speak out against these attempts by the Harper government to remove remaining US war resisters from Canada.
During Let Them Stay Week — January 25 to 31, 2015 — let Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander know that you support a provision for US war resisters to remain in Canada, and that you oppose any and all attempts to deport them.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Sunday, January 25 – Profile Picture Day: Change your profile picture on Facebook in support of US war resisters for the duration of Let Them Stay Week.
Monday, January 26 – Media Outreach Day: Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
Tuesday, January 27 – Email/Phone Blitz: Call or email Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander (cc to party leaders, immigration critics, and your MP). Click here to send your email. Mr. Alexander's phone numbers are: 613-995-8042 and 905-426-6808.
Wednesday, January 28 – Mail-in Letters Day: Write a letter to the Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0A6. The letter can be sent postage-free within Canada.
Thursday, January 29 – Social Media Day: Share, post, disseminate information on war resisters on social media.
Friday, January 30 – Community Outreach Day: Call your local MP's office to express your concern; circulate the US war resister petition; make a donation to the War Resisters defence fund; post a window-sign at your home, workplace or community organization.
Below is a joint statement recently issued by US war resisters in Canada.
Joint Statement by former US military personnel who came to Canada because of their conscientious objection to the Iraq War.
We are American war resisters. Many of us are combat veterans. All of us came to the conclusion that we could not in good conscience participate in the unjust and illegal war and occupation launched in March 2003 against Iraq.
Faced with jail time and forced redeployment in support of that disastrous war, we sought refuge in Canada.
The response from Canadians has been overwhelmingly welcoming and supportive, and has made it possible for us to settle here, raise families and build communities.
But the Conservative government has directly intervened to deny us access to a fair immigration process.
We now face imminent removal from Canada. Our removal will tear apart our families and punish us for simply doing what Canadians have already done – refusing to support and participate in an illegal and unjust war.
Former Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney publicly disparaged us, instructed immigration officers to "red-flag" our cases, and labelled us "criminally inadmissible" to Canada. This has prejudiced any chance of having our cases decided on their merits.
Yet Canada's Parliament twice voted to allow us to stay. Canadian courts have acknowledged the disproportional punishment handed to US soldiers who have spoken out publicly in Canada. Those who have been forced back by the Conservative government have been court-martialed and received sentences from 12 to 24 months in jail.
It is no coincidence that so many of us are facing deportation at this very moment. It is difficult to manufacture consent for a new war when we are still here to tell the ground truth of the previous war. There is still time for Canadians to speak out – but time is running out.