Vigils and delegations visited eight Canadian consulates across the United States January 25, 2008 to ask that the U.S. war resisters by allowed to stay in Canada. Veterans, community organizers, and others gathered in Washington DC, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis to support the troops who have refused to fight.
Demonstrators say, “Let War Resisters Stay”
Canadian Broadcast Corp. January 26, 2007
If you have not already done so, please sign the letter, “Dear Canada: Let U.S. War Resisters Stay” today. Although we delivered thousands of petitions and letters to Canadian Consulates across the country on January 25, we’ll still mail this letter on your behalf via USPS International First Class mail.
Photos, reports, and audio from around the country.
Free Speech Radio News
Free Speech Radio News. 3:00 min. January 25, 2008
“It’s great that people all across Canada and the US are coming out to show support for the war resisters,” said Patrick Hart, a former sergeant in the US Army who came to Canada in 2005 with his family. “My family could be told we have to go back to the States anytime now. We just want to be able to live here in peace and raise our son, Rian. We hope that the politicians will let us do that.”
Thousands of letters and petitions were delivered this afternoon to the Canadian Consulate in downtown San Francisco. The “Dear Canada: Let U.S. War Resisters Stay” letters ask that Canada find a political solution that will allow the approximately 200 U.S. war resisters now seeking sanctuary to remain. Three dozen supporters rallied in the rain, leafleted, and sang along with the Raging Grannies’ as they sang of GI resistance.
Courage to Resist organizers gave a report back from their trip to Canada last month. They met with many of the resisters and attended a Parliament hearing by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of the House of Commons in Ottawa. In an important preliminary victory, the committee adopted a motion that would allow any war resister to seek sanctuary in Canada in opposition to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations. It’s now possible that the full House of Commons may vote on this resolution with a few weeks. In the meantime, deportation is becoming a real possibility for some of the resisters as most of their legal appeals have now been exhausted.
Stephen McNeil of the American Friends Service Committee and Ying Lee of the Watada Support Committee spoke about the importance of supporting our troops who are resisting an illegal and immoral war by going to Canada.
Pablo Paredes, a former sailor turned Iraq War resister and current GI Rights Hotline counselor, and Mike Wong, a Vietnam War era veteran who chose exile in Canada for five years, hand delivered the letters and petitions to Canadian Consul Nadia Scipio Del Campo, Political/Economic Relations and Public Affairs, on behalf of the larger delegation.
This was one of eight vigils and delegations that took place today at Canadian Consulates across the United States. These actions were initiated by Courage to Resist in collaboration with the War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada)—with the support of Veterans for Peace, United for Peace and Justice, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and many other groups.
Photos below by Jeff Paterson for Courage to Resist. Additional photos: one | two Video: one | two
Representatives of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, Veterans for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and other local groups and individuals gathered outside the entrance to the Canadian Consulate General in downtown Los Angeles for a two-hour vigil on Friday morning in support of Courage to Resist’s “Dear Canada: Let U.S. War Resisters Stay” campaign. The delegation was met, as arranged in advance, by the local consul for Political, Economic, and Public Affairs, Mr. Carl Hartill. Mr. Hartill was already well-informed about the campaign, the activities of the Canadian War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada, the recent Supreme Court decision, and the current legislative efforts in Parliament.
The group presented Mr. Hartill with letter copies bearing the names of people all across the United States who are urging the Canadian federal government to provide sanctuary to U.S. servicemembers who may now be living in Canada at risk of deportation and prosecution upon their return to the United States. Signed original letters gathered locally by Veterans for Peace were also presented, along with printed background information on the campaign and its sponsors. Mr. Hartill indicated that he would forward the materials to Ottawa, along with a report covering the vigil and his conversation with the visitors.
Report reprinted from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.:
About 50 American veterans of the Iraq War and other demonstrators gathered at the Canadian Embassy in Washington on Friday to demand that the Canadian government allow hundreds of U.S. resisters to the Iraq conflict to remain in Canada.
The protesters presented a letter addressed to Ambassador Michael Wilson to an embassy representative. The letter asks the Canadian government not to allow the deportation of United States soldiers who have fled to Canada to avoid serving in Iraq.
Geoff Maillard, president of the Washington, D.C., chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, said the group was able to hand over both the letter and a supporting petition containing thousands of names.
Maillard said the Canadian government requires the U.S. soldiers who have fled to Canada to go through a refugee process, but the refugee board refuses to consider the question of whether the Iraq war is legal. He said that argument is central to the war resisters’ claim that they are fleeing a conflict that “clearly violates” international law against wars of aggression.
“These war resisters are leaving the U.S. not because they’re afraid to fight in a war but because their conscience will not allow them to fight in a war that clearly violates Common Article 3 of the Geneva Accord,” Maillard said.
“The fact is that these young men and women are bravely standing up for international law and they are being rebuffed at every turn.”
WSQT Guerrilla Radio
From Gerry Condon, Project Safe Haven
About 15 people, representing about 10 different organizations, participated in the one hour vigil. We stood on the sidewalk in front of the building that houses the Canadian Consulate, right in the middle of downtown. The beautiful, big posters provided by Courage to Resist got the attention of many passersby, so there was quite a high rate of people taking flyers, with some expressing support.
Six of us, including a Canadian woman, went upstairs to meet with the Canadian Consul, Kim Blanchett. Everybody felt very good about the meeting.
Thanks to all for your great work on this! Regardless of how much media coverage we may or may not get in the U.S., these actions weren’t really aimed at people in the U.S. so much as they were aimed at the Canadian government and people, and our brother and sister war resisters.
But we have achieved a valuable goal in the U.S. too. This is the first nationally coordinated actions in the U.S. in support of our war resisters in Canada. Various elements of the peace movement participated in this together. They are now well educated about the critical need for solidarity at this time. This is also another important step in the re-orientation of much of the antiwar movement to the importance of defending our war resisters.
Indymedia Seattle report by Laury Kenton, with photographs by Elliot Stoller
Braving Friday’s near-zero temperatures, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) joined members of the Northland Anti-War Coalition (NAWC) of Duluth, the Twin Cities Peace Campaign and Women Against Military Madness outside the Consulate General of Canada in downtown Minneapolis for a noon-hour vigil. Their message: “Dear Canada: Let US War Resisters Stay!”
While vigilers in Minneapolis held signs and leafleted outside the consulate, IVAW-Minnesota president Wes Davey and vigil organizer Joel Kilgour met inside with Canadian Consul Robert Pengelly and consulate Public Affairs Officer Amy McBeth. Davey expressed his hope that Canada would offer a safe haven to US servicemembers who face prosecution at home for their resistance to an unjustified conflict.
Kilgour delivered several “Dear Canada” letters in support of the resisters – including from District 8 state senator Tony Lourey, District 7B state representative Mike Jaros, Duluth AFL-CIO Central Labor Body president Alan Netland, three Duluth city councilors, and Melanie McPherson, the first Minnesota soldier to serve time in prison for publicly refusing to fight in Iraq.
New York City
As a part of Courage to Resist’s national “Dear Canada: Let U.S. War Resisters Stay” campaign, the War Resisters League, Iraq Veterans Against the War-NYC, and UFPJ-NYC were joined by activists from across New York City for a rally and vigil in front of the Canadian Consulate in Midtown Manhattan.
Against the backdrop of Radio City Music Hall , the energetic group of 25 people handed out leaflets to lunchtime passersby, chanted, and marched in the near-freezing weather. Following the rally, organizers held a press conference, attended by a wide variety of media outlets. Speakers included Jose Vasquez (IVAW-NYC Chapter President), who spoke about the importance of supporting war resisters, Jennifer Hogg (IVAW-NYC Treasurer), who spoke about how her experience in the military shaped her perspective on the war, and Steve Theberge (War Resisters League) who gave a brief update on the current political situation for US resisters in Canada.
At the end of the press conference, organizers presented a representative from the Consulate with thousands of signed petitions in support of US war resisters living in Canada.
Photos by Steve Theberge, War Resisters League
War resister supports leafleted outside of the Canadian Consulate. Organized by Payday men’s network, the activists delivered a letter in support of a political solution that would allow objectors to remain in Canada.
North Texas for Justice and Peace held a vigil outside the Canadian Consulate General in downtown Dallas holding a sign which bore the Pierre Trudeau quote “Canada Should Be A Refuge From Militarism”. A week later, on February 1, Bob Davis, Sandy Moore and Rusty Tomlinson met with the Political and Economic Relations Officer, Henry Wells. Davis praised Canada’s history of helping war resisters and their contributions to world peace.
“We delivered letters and petitions supporting amnesty for American war resisters, and Davis asked Mr Wells to relay our thanks to the House of Commons for considering a measure which would grant them that amnesty. Mr Wells agreed to relay our messages to the Canadian Foreign Office,” reports Rusty Tomlinson
Groups that joined Courage to Resist and the War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada) in making this a successful day included Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, War Resisters League, Iraq Veterans Against the War-NYC, DECOI, Iraq Veterans Against the War-DC, Veterans for Peace Phillip Berrigan Memorial Chapter, Veterans for Peace Chapter 69, Raging Grannies, Project Safe Haven, Twin Cities Peace Campaign, Iraq Veterans Against the War-Minnesota, Truth in Recruiting, Payday men’s network, Global Women’s Strike, North Texas for Justice and Peace, United for Peace and Justice, and others.
On Saturday, January 26, the War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada) staged a Canada-wide mobilization to ensure that deportation proceedings against U.S. war resisters cease immediately, and to support a sanctuary provision. Here are a few of the photos from Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria Grand Forks, Nelson BC, Saskatoon, Sudbury, and Thunder Bay: