Contents: The Sir! No Sir! blog is an information clearing house, drawing on a wide variety of sources, to track the unfolding history of the new GI Movement, and the wars that brought the movement to life.
Where applicable, parallels will be drawn between the new movement and the Vietnam era movement which was the focus of the film Sir! No Sir!
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The Sir! No Sir! Blog has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is the Sir! No Sir! Blog endorsed or sponsored by the originator. Links are provided to allow for verification of authenticity.
This announcement was posted to We Move to Canada, August 11, 2009
I've just learned that war resister Kimberly Rivera has won her most recent appearance in federal court.
From lawyer Alyssa Manning: "Justice Russell found that the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment Officer did not address properly the risk of differential punishment on the basis of political opinion and the evidence put forward in support of that risk."
This means that Kim is entitled to a new PRRA with a different PRRA officer.
We have a long way to go, but for today: WE WON!
This alert, was posted to the Let Them Stay Campaign Facebook page, August 6, 2009
Iraq war resister Rodney Watson has been ORDERED to LEAVE CANADA by AUGUST 10, 2009.
Full Story: A U.S. Iraq War veteran and war resister who has been living in Vancouver since 2007 has been told to leave Canada by August 10 or face removal.
RICHMOND BC DEMO TODAY: 9:00 a.m. PDT Unit 360, 5951 No. 3 Road Richmond, BCTORONTO DEMO TOMORROW: On Friday, August 7, 4:30 p.m., northwest corner of University Avenue and Queen Street West.
Rodney Watson is a veteran of the Iraq War. After seeing the way Iraqi civilians were being treated by the US, he refused a second deployment, choosing to come to Canada instead. Watson now has a Canadian-born son, and seeks only to live in peace in his new home.
In June 2009, the Immigration Critics from all three opposition parties wrote to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney, calling on him to honour the will of Parliament and “not to use the Parliamentary recess to disregard the expressed will of the House of Commons with respect to the fair treatment of Iraq War resisters in Canada”. A majority of Members of Parliament voted twice to allow U.S. war resisters to remain in Canada, first in June 2008, then again in March 2009.
Despite this very clear mandate, Minister Kenney and the Harper Government continue to deport Iraq War resisters. Several war resisters already have been deported to the U.S., where two have been court martialed and imprisoned. In addition to Watson, several other war resisters in Canada live under threat of deportation, including Kimberly Rivera, Jeremy Hinzman and Patrick Hart. All are parents of young children.
In January, Minister Kenney publicly denounced U.S. war resisters as “bogus refugee claimants,” revealing the government’s blanket opposition to what is supposed to be an impartial process. The Minister’s blatantly prejudicial comments were promptly denounced by Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Council for Refugees.
The following profiles, by Maggie Gilmour, were posted to Toronto Life, July 2009
To avoid serving in Iraq, 300 American soldiers have left their homes and families and fled to Canada, 75 of them to Toronto. Many assumed they’d get a visa, settle down and live a normal life. But the federal government has rejected their refugee claims and ordered them deported. Some go into hiding; others wait for appeals and judicial reviews of their cases. In the meantime, they’ve put down roots, taking temp jobs and raising children, nostalgic for a time when Canada was a haven for conscientious objectors.
PHIL MCDOWELL, 29
HOMETOWN: Warwick, Rhode Island
ARRIVED: October 14, 2006
STATUS: Refugee application denied, appealing to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration for protected person status
I went to a small college in Poughkeepsie, New York. After 9/11, I wanted to do something useful to defend my country. I graduated with a degree in IT and joined the army a month later. I believed, we all believed, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I went to Iraq in February 2004, and when we first drove into Baghdad you could taste burning tires and garbage in the air. My job was to set up communications networks at bases. One day I saw Donald Rumsfeld on TV saying that we were no longer looking for weapons of mass destruction. I thought, Then what the hell are we doing here? My commanding officer told us we were spreading democracy and freedom. I got suspicious and ordered books off Amazon: Bush at War by Bob Woodward, The 9/11 Commission Report, American Soldier by Tommy Franks. We had been lied to, and we did so many things wrong in Iraq. When we held detainees at our base, they’d be put out in the sun for hours at a time, hands zip-cuffed, hoods on their heads.
My tour ended in February 2005. I got home and spent time with my girlfriend, Jamine. By June 2006, I’d fulfilled my four-year contract, and I was done. I was so happy to be out, and I started a five‑month hike on the Appalachian Trail. When I was in New Hampshire, I got the call that I’d been stop-lossed and had to report back to base to deploy for another 15 months. I told my commanding officer I didn’t support the war and asked if there was something else I could do in the army to avoid going back to Iraq. He said no. I called my congressman and my senator’s office; I called a civilian military officer and a lawyer. They all said, “There is nothing you can do. You have to report back.” I couldn’t continue to serve in a war that I was morally opposed to, so I picked up clothes from my parents’ house and drove north.
At first I lived with a Toronto family who belong to a group of war resisters; then I got my own apartment at Broadview and Danforth. Jamine joined me in November 2006, after we got married. Jamine plays lacrosse, and she’s coaching at U of T. I have a work permit and install solar thermal heating systems. If things work out and I get a visa, I’d like to keep working in my field; the new Ontario Green Energy Act has created a lot of interest. One day when we met officials about our refugee application, there were people from Zimbabwe in the waiting room who had probably fled their own wars. We showed up in our Ralph Lauren shirts—people laughed at us.
PATRICK HART, 35
HOMETOWN: New Bedford, Massachusetts
ARRIVED: August 20, 2005
STATUS: Refugee application denied, deportation order postponed
I decided to join the army in 1992, after graduating from high school by the skin of my teeth. I served for three years in Germany as a warehouse guy, operating a forklift. I left at the end of that tour, thinking that with my military record I’d be able to get a job. I made tacos, did construction work and got laid off from a job at a steel factory. I married my wife, Jill, in March 2000 and rejoined the army that year because I needed an income to start a family. For the first three years, I worked in the motor pool at my base in Fort Riley, Kansas, and it was nine-to-five, pretty relaxed. My son, Rian, was born in 2002, and a year later I was sent to Kuwait to do maintenance on all the trucks and machines. There was a lot of just sitting around, shooting the shit. When we found out there were no weapons of mass destruction, I felt like I was putting my life on the line for nothing. I returned to the U.S. in March 2004 and told Jill that I wanted to leave the army, but she convinced me to stay for the health care, since our son has epilepsy. We argued about it a lot, but I couldn’t convince her, and I decided to leave without telling her. I knew that if I’d told her I was deserting, she would have turned me in and I would have gone to jail.
I left for Canada in August 2005; my parents drove me over the border. We told the border guard we were going to the CNE. When the army found out I had left, they sent military police to look for me at our home on the base. They ransacked the place in the middle of the night, looking for signs I was still living there. They went into Rian’s room and turned the light on and dumped all the dresser drawers out on the floor. They scared Jill pretty badly. I think she realized then that they were the bad guys, and she and Rian joined me in Canada a month later. We moved into a co-op near the lake. When I first arrived, I worked for a while at Lula Lounge running food and helping out at the bar, but my work permit ended. I keep busy by playing in a Misfits tribute band; we sometimes perform at the Bovine and the Rivoli.
When you apply for refugee status, you have to meet with a border services agent who asks if you’ll leave if you’re ordered deported. My lawyer told me that if you waver, if it seems like you are lying, or if you’re dumb enough to say no, they take you into custody at that moment and keep you in a hotel room near the office. So I said yes. My mother and father always say, “We’d rather visit you in Canada than at the cemetery.” My wife once asked my commanding officer what happens to soldiers who go AWOL. He said, “We put them on guard duty in Iraq with no ammo in their weapon, no plates in their bulletproof jacket, and just see what happens.”
CHUCK WILEY, 37
HOMETOWN: Frankfort, Kentucky
ARRIVED: February 11, 2007
STATUS: Refugee application denied, applied for consideration on compassionate grounds to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
The military is a big deal in my family. Of my father’s eight siblings, seven went into the military. My dad was immensely proud of me when I started basic training after Grade 11. I went in first as a classified communications electronics technician, which is a fancy name for someone who fixes radios. I did that in Louisville for three years, then signed on for full-time active duty in the navy; I maintained and operated nuclear reactors on ships. In 2004, I was assigned to serve on the USS Enterprise, where the planes rest between bombing missions. We were situated near the Persian Gulf, in the Strait of Hormuz. The summer of 2006, I asked one of my buddies in weapons why our F‑18s were returning covered in bullet holes, and he told me how the army was surrounding areas with suspected insurgents at dawn and flying F-18s right over the heads of the villagers to create as much chaos and fear as possible. Whoever fled was deemed a “person of interest” and rounded up. The fourth Geneva Convention details the treatment of civilians. It says you need to protect them from conflict, and you can’t treat all civilians as if they are the enemy—but that’s what we were doing. When I complained about it, I was told to just follow orders and not ask questions.
In mid-October 2006, we turned around and headed home to Norfolk, Virginia. I asked to be put on a ship going to any mission other than the Middle East. Instead, I was ordered to serve on the George Washington, which was headed for Iraq in four months. I spoke to a lawyer, who told me I had to report for duty or go to jail. Instead, I left for Canada.
I now live in a basement apartment at Donlands and Danforth and have a job maintaining the heating and cooling systems at a private school near Yonge and St. Clair. After nuclear reactors, it’s pretty easy. I’ve been giving anti-war talks at Ryerson, Queen’s and the University of Waterloo. I had never experienced cultural diversity until I moved here. Most Americans in small towns have never met a Muslim. Here, I have a Muslim colleague who works in IT. When you’ve met Muslims, worked with them, got into serious conversations with them, it’s a hell of a lot harder to follow orders to kill them.
DEAN WALCOTT, 27
HOMETOWN: Saratoga, New York
ARRIVED: December 6, 2006
STATUS: Refugee application denied, waiting to be granted a judicial review of his deportation order
I joined the marines in 2000 to put some discipline in me. My parents didn’t like it, but they weren’t too worried: 9/11 hadn’t happened, so no one thought I’d go to war. At basic training, they beat the shit out of you, fist in the face, kick you in the gut, throw you up against walls. My first posting was in Okinawa, Japan. I repaired electronics, sang karaoke, and drank a lot of Habu sake, a crazy drink made with snake venom.
In 2003, they sent me to Iraq to be a gunner. We’d travel in convoys down the road, from one base to another. I sat in the turret of a Humvee with a machine gun, looking out for the enemy. In a border town called Safwan, we saw some kids who had been beaten up by British and American soldiers. They had slogans written on their foreheads in black permanent marker: “terrorist in training” and “camel jockey.” A year after my tour in Iraq, I was sent to an army hospital in Stuttgart, where I processed paperwork for injured soldiers. Some of them were missing all of their limbs; some had survived being set on fire but were a red and black mass that looked nothing like a human being, families standing around their beds screaming and crying. We did whatever we could for the soldiers—got them a pizza or an Adam Sandler movie, whatever they asked for. I was sent back to Iraq again and stayed there until March 2006. When I returned to the U.S., I couldn’t sleep because of my nightmares. When I’d talk to the guys in my unit, they would just say, ”Shut up, you’re a wimp, stop whining.” I became a recluse and spent all my time chatting with my rabbit, Lunchbox, who I’d bought at a mall.
One night, I typed “war” and “get out” into Google and found a war resisters Web site. I dropped Lunchbox off with a friend, got on a Greyhound bus and came north. Now I live in Parkdale with two other resisters and have a temporary work permit for my job at Reboot, a non-profit that repairs donated used computers and gives them to low-income families. I go to Galaxy Donuts for coffee and have beer with my friends at the Cadillac Lounge. I like it here; there is an attitude of live-and-let-live. I’m still in touch with my parents through e‑mail, and they’re proud of my decision.
KIMBERLY RIVERA, 27
HOMETOWN: Mesquite, Texas
ARRIVED: February 18, 2007
STATUS: Refugee application denied, judicial review of her deportation order is scheduled for July
Army recruiters called my house 20 times when I was in high school, and I knew that the only way I’d be able to afford an education was if I joined. My sign-up bonus would be $8,000, and my college and health care would be covered. I was 17 when I joined the reserves. Five months into my training, I discovered I was pregnant. They gave me an honourable discharge, and I moved in with my boyfriend, Mario. We had our first child, Christian, then our second, Rebecca. We had no health insurance, and the stress made me a terrible person: I threw shoes at my husband, threw the TV off the balcony. In January 2006, I rejoined the army. Mario and I got married that same month.
That October, my unit left for Iraq, and I spent three months patting down civilians as a gate guard. Most of my fellow soldiers treated me like a sister, but not all of them. Some of them would hound me: “You look so fine, I want to get with you.” It was the most attention I’d had in my whole life. When I got back to Mesquite from Iraq, I realized how much I missed Mario and how badly I wanted out of the army—it was too hard on our relationship. We left Texas in January 2007 and drove north. By the time we got to Kansas City, I was having second thoughts. I wrote out a pros and cons list. If I left, I’d lose my furniture, which was at the base in Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, and my salary—$1,200 every two weeks. If I went back to Iraq, my marriage wouldn’t survive, and I’d lose my peace of mind.
We crossed at the Rainbow Bridge, said we were going shopping, and the guards waved us through. For three months, we lived with a family in Oakville who had volunteered to house resisters. That April, we moved to a one-bedroom apartment at King and Jameson. For nine months, I worked at Cobs Bread in Kensington; then I had my third kid, Katie. Mario took a course to operate a forklift, but neither of us has a work permit. We sit around waiting for the government to decide what to do with us—they put a stay on my deportation order this past March. When we first arrived in Canada, I still felt paranoid and unhappy—like I was back in Iraq. Now it’s our home.
This press release was published by the War Resisters Support Campaign, March 29, 2009
Canadians call on Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to use his authority to act. On Monday evening the House of Commons voted, for the second time in 10 months, to let Iraq War resisters live in Canada. The vote on a motion from the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration directs the Government of Canada to immediately stop the deportation of U.S. Iraq War resisters and establish a program to facilitate permanent resident status for the resisters and their families.
“It’s time for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Harper to follow the will of the majority of Canadians and act as directed by Parliament,” said Michelle Robidoux, spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign. “It could be as simple as Jason Kenney using his discretion as minister to grant the resisters’ applications to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.”
The vote in Parliament comes less than a week after Members of Parliament from all three opposition parties held a press conference calling on the Harper government to stop the deportation of Kimberly Rivera, the first female Iraq War resister to come to Canada.
Kimberly Rivera, a former U.S. soldier, deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2006. While home on leave she decided she could no longer participate in the war. She and her family sought refuge in Canada in January 2007. Kimberly, her husband Mario and their three children – including a Canadian born daughter – were ordered to leave Canada by March 26 or face deportation. They won an 11th hour stay from the Federal Court Wednesday evening. Though The Honourable James Russell’s written decision was not immediately released, his verbal ruling explained that war resisters who are deported to the U.S. face disproportionately severe punishment for being public about their objections to the Iraq War.
“This was the fifth time that the court ruled that Iraq war resisters face harsher punishment if they’re sent back to the U.S.,” said Robidoux. “The courts have spoken, Parliament has spoken and Canadians have made their views clear. These conscientious objectors should not be sent back to the United States to face jail time for opposing the Iraq War.” A public opinion poll conducted by Angus Reid Strategies last June found that 64 per cent of Canadians want the government to allow Iraq War resisters to become permanent residents of Canada.
For further information, please contact: Michelle Robidoux, Spokesperson, War Resisters Support Campaign, 416-856-5008; or
Ken Marciniec, Communications Volunteer, War Resister Support Campaign, 416-803-6066, firstname.lastname@example.org
This article, by Anthony Lane, was originally publishd in the Colorado Spprings Independent, April 13, 2009
Since ditching the Army and the Iraq war two years ago, Kim Rivera has seen some things go her way.
The former Fort Carson soldier and her family found a new home in Canada, along with supporters to help them plead their case. From Toronto, the mother of three watched as American anti-war sentiment helped launch Barack Obama to the presidency.
But even as sentiment and sympathy align, the Texas native faces possible deportation, and imprisonment back in the States. Borys Wrzesnewskyj (pronounced rez-NEV-skee), a member of Canada's Parliament, says efforts to stop his country's government from deporting Rivera and hundreds of other Army deserters seem to be going nowhere.
"The government is standing shoulder to shoulder with the former Bush administration," Wrzesnewskyj says.
Given that the Obama administration has shown no sign of easing up on deserters, Wrzesnewskyj says, his question for Canada's conservative government is simple: "Why would you send this mother to prison and separate her from her three small children for taking a principled stand against an unjust war?"
Canada's minority government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has deported at least four U.S. deserters since July over the objection of a majority in Parliament who have voted twice to let the them stay. Robin Long, another Fort Carson soldier, got wide publicity as the first to be deported, and he is now serving 15 months in a California military jail.
Rivera was preparing to be deported March 26 before a Canadian federal judge granted her an emergency stay of removal, based on the similarly harsh sentence she could get in the U.S. She is now waiting to find out if the courts will review her application for refugee status in Canada.
"It gives me another day to fight," Rivera said in a March 25 press conference.
Though Rivera could not be reached for this story, she told the Dallas Observer that she joined the Army mostly to provide a better living for her family than she could by working at Wal-Mart. She later found she objected to the war effort and missed her loved ones.
Her publicity could hurt her if she's deported. Lee Zaslofsky, national coordinator of the Toronto-based War Resisters Support Campaign, says Long's outspokenness against the war could explain his 15-month sentence, nearly twice what another Fort Carson deserter received and longer than those of some soldiers who have admitted to taking part in the murder of Iraqi civilians.
Strictly speaking, desertion is punishable by death during time of war, though the Army has not tried to go that far. The first year of the Iraq war, 2,610 soldiers deserted. That number climbed to 4,698 in the year between October 2007 and September 2008. Most deserters just try to lie low in the States; those who avoid speeding tickets or other law-enforcement contact run little risk of getting scooped up by the Army.
Though many Vietnam-era deserters and draft-dodgers were later forgiven, few expect that to happen for modern-day deserters, particularly while combat continues. And despite Obama's position that soldiers shouldn't have been sent to Iraq to begin with, Army spokesman Lt. Col. George Wright says he's unaware of any plans to change treatment of those soldiers who opted out on their own.
This was posted, to Courage to Resist, March 26, 2009
Kimberly Rivera received word late on March 25th that the Federal Court granted her a stay pending a decision on whether or not they will review a decision by Immigration officials rejecting her Pre-Removal Risk Assessment.
Please contact the Leaders of the Official Opposition and ask them to support U.S. Iraq War resisters.
The decision means that Kimberly, her husband Mario and their three children will not be facing a deportation on March 26th. It is a very important decision that recognizes that US war resisters who speak publicly against the war in Iraq face differential treatment by the US military.
Kimberly Rivera’s last-minute victory in the Federal Court on March 25th, stopping her deportation by the Harper government and Minister Jason Kenney, is a tremendous victory for all U.S. Iraq War resisters in Canada. But Kim and other resisters still face imminent deportation. A political solution is needed to ultimately solve this crisis and secure refuge in Canada for war resisters.
Please contact the Leaders of the Official Opposition and ask them to support U.S. Iraq War resisters during next week’s vote. If the 163 members of the opposition parties can unite again, together we can defeat the 143 Conservatives who promise to vote against Iraq War resisters and deport them to jail in the U.S.
The fight for Iraq war resisters to remain in Canada is a two front war.
The political front
On June 3, 2008, Canadian Parliament voted in favour of allowing Iraq war resisters to seek permanent residence status in Canada.
This non-binding motion called for the creation of a special government program to, "allow conscientious objectors and their families ... who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations to apply for permanent resident status."
One hundred and thirty-seven MPs from the Liberal party, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois voted in favour of the motion, while 110 Conservative MPs voted against.
While the motion was passed by a majority in Parliament, the minority Conservative government under Stephen Harper has yet to enact it; this despite constant lobbying
from the War Resister Support Campaign (WRSC), immigration rights groups and anti-war activists.
The judicial front
Even though Canadian Parliament had passed the June 3, 2008, it is non-binding. Therefore the Canadian immigration system, through the Immigrant and Refugee Board
(IRB), has been issuing deportation orders to those resisters who have applied for refugee status.
These deportation orders are being contested in the Canadian judicial system as the Federal Court considers a series of IRB decisions and defendant appeals.
Canada's immigration process includes both an Humanitarian and Compassionate (H + C) application and a Pre-Risk Removal Assessment (PRRA), to determine the impact of a deportation on the individual or if they would face undue hardship if returned to their home country.
There are a number of different resisters challenging their negative H + C and PRRA decisions, requesting an appeal or a new refugee application from the IRB.
One such case includes a Federal court judge's acceptance to review the deportation order of resister Jeremy Hinzman. This allows Hinzman and his wife and children to remain in Canada until the appeal of their negative PRRA is heard.
Despite an IRB ruling stating that Hinzman would face no undue hardship if returned to the United States to face a military trial for desertion, in (Federal Court) Justice Mosley ruling, he concluded that "[b]ased on the evidence and submissions before me, I am satisfied that the applicants would suffer irreparable harm if a stay were not granted pending determination of their leave application."
Lawyers for the resisters and the WRSC both assert that any soldier deported back to the US to stand trial would face undue hardship. They cite an emerging trend of prosecution in U.S. court marshal proceedings that considers speaking out publicly against the U.S. government and the Iraq war grounds for increased punishment.
This risk of harsher punishment - including prosecution with charges equal to a civilian felony conviction, prison sentences, denial of veteran benefits for themselves and their family and the military humiliation of receiving a dishonourable discharge - is at the heart of Hinzman's immigration case currently before the courts.
In recent days, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney (replacing Diane Finley) has been catching heat for public statements made to the Toronto Sun concerning US war resisters, spoken from his position as the minister directly in charge of immigration.
Commenting after resister Kimberly Rivera received a negative IRB decision on January 7, 2009, he referred to Iraq war resisters as, "bogus refugee claimants" in a later interview on Parliament Hill.
He went on to state, "I don't appreciate people adding to the backlog and clogging up the system whose claims are being rejected consistently 100 per cent of the time."
Minister Kenney also responded to an article written by John Hogan in the Toronto Sun where Hogan questioned the independence of the IRB in light of the Conservative governments consistent negative stance towards US war resisters. In a response to this article, he wrote that, "war resistance is futile" and re-affirmed the IRB'S independence.
Critics of the minority Conservative government claim that Minister Kenney's comments prejudice any immigration hearings for war resisters.
Lee Zaslofsky, an organizer with the War Resister Support Campaign (WRCS), criticized Minister Kenney's comments as political interference on the supposedly independent IRB tribunal.
"Everyone, including war resisters, has the right to expect their applications will be dealt with in a fair and impartial manner," he wrote in a statement.
"Minister Kenney's comments show the Harper government has a blanket policy of opposition against war resisters, which makes it nearly impossible for them to be treated on a 'case-by-case basis' as our government has been leading Canadians to believe."
Criticism of Minister Kenney's remarks were also laid down through an open letter by Elizabeth McWeeney, President of the Canadian Council of Refugees.
In the letter writ on January 8, 2009, she stated her concern surrounding Minister Kenney's comments which she called, "highly inappropriate" since they "give the strong appearance of political interference."
She was referring to the fact that the IRB re-appointments are made by Cabinet and IRB members might fear for their tenure if they do not toe a certain political line.
She wrote, "highly publicized cases such as the war resisters are always challenging for the IRB which must live up to its obligations to make fair, impartial and politically unmotivated determinations, based on jurisprudence and the evidence before it."
Any political assertions otherwise, especially spoken from the minister responsible for immigration affairs, threatens the independence of the IRB and the right of war resisters to a fair immigration assessment.
McWeeny also refuted the Minister's assumptions around the burden that war resisters supposedly place on the Canadian immigration system.
She was "shocked" that Minister Kenney would attribute the systematic delays in the refugee claim process to the war resisters, slamming the Minister for the lack of credibility to his argument since the number of war resister claims was "miniscule".
Instead, she cited that the backlog was in fact a consequence of the Conservative government to appoint IRB members.
This slams shut the door on any Conservative government intentions to utilize a divide and conquer strategy between refugees.
The open letter ends with the Canadian Council of Refugees affirming its support for Iraq war resisters, "these are individuals who deserve our admiration for following their consciences and refusing to participate in wrongdoing, at significant cost to themselves."
This is a critical juncture for Iraq war resisters in Canada - with a series of deportation orders scheduled to start at the end of the month.
We as a society must weight their struggle using both our hands. Carefully determine the possible outcomes to their fight to remain in Canada. Carefully determine the value of life and the cost of protecting it.
Jail time in a U.S. prison for refusing to kill or a new home in Canada for refusing to kill.
The cost of laying down one's guns and refusing to fight is soon to be determined legally in our courts and morally in the hearts of Canadians across the country.
The price: freedom or deportation.
This article, by Tiffany Crawford, was published by Canwest News Service, January 6, 2009.
OTTAWA - An American war resister, who was told he must leave Canada Tuesday or face deportation to the United States, will not have to vacate the country until at least the end of January, says a support group.
Michelle Robidoux, a spokeswoman for the War Resisters Support Campaign, said Dean Walcott's case has been held over until Jan. 30.
Other U.S. resisters facing possible deportation include Cliff Cornell, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart, Matt Lowell and Kimberly Rivera - and their families.
Some of the resisters have applied to the Federal Court to have their cases overturned on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
``If the Federal Court agrees to a judicial review of these resister's cases, that could be very positive,'' said Robidoux.
The Federal Court previously agreed to hear two of the cases, said Lee Zaslofsky, co-ordinator of the support group. Glass has been granted a new application to stay on humanitarian grounds while Hinzman and his family will go before the court Feb. 10.
``I'm hoping the Federal Court will be positive in Jermemy Hinzman's case and if not set a precedent, then at least give guidance on other cases that are pending, as well,'' said Zaslofsky.
``My feeling is it would be a travesty if people were deported only to find out, in Jeremy Hinzman's case, the court overturns the decisions . . . and the government threw them out anyway.''
Rivera, who was the first woman to refuse to serve after being deployed to Iraq, will face a decision on her deportation order Wednesday.
Rivera gave birth Nov. 23, said Robidoux, and will go before the board on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.
``So if she is deported and jailed, she will be separated from her newborn and she has two other young children,'' said Robidoux.
Cornell, who was ordered to leave Canada by Dec. 24, or face deportation, also had his case held over until Jan. 22.
Cornell, 28, is originally from Arkansas but lives on Gabriola Island, near Nanaimo, B.C. He has been in Canada since January 2005 after refusing deployment to the Iraq war.
Another American, Christopher Teske, also living in B.C., will have a decision heard Jan. 20.
Lowell is waiting to hear whether his appeal will be heard.
This article, by Tiffany Crawford, was published by Canwest News Service, January 20, 2009.
An American army deserter who has been living in Canada in an attempt to avoid serving in the U.S.-led war in Iraq has joined a growing list of refugee applicants to be refused asylum in Canada.
Chris Teske, 27, who joined the army after the 9/11 attacks in New York, asked the Federal Court for a stay of removal but was denied late Monday night and told to leave Canada by Tuesday or be removed by force.
Michelle Robidoux, a spokeswoman with the War Resisters' Support Campaign said Teske was to be driven Tuesday to the Canada-United States border near Vancouver with his wife Stephanie.
B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko urged the Conservative government to take immediate action to stop the deportation and others.
Given a lack of confidence in the House of Commons by the Opposition and U.S. President Barack Obama's stance against the Iraq war, Atamanenko said the Canadian government should reconsider its position and intervene.
``Should there ever be a coalition government then it's my assumption and hope that we can review this and then put a stop to all of this,'' he said.
Teske served two tours in Afghanistan and says he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder before being called to train gunners in Iraq in 2006. He refused to go to Iraq on moral and conscientious grounds because he believed the war immoral.
He and his wife then fled to British Columbia where they have lived for the past two years in the West Kootenays in the Interior of the province. Teske has been working at a truss construction company.
Earlier this month, Kimberly Rivera, who served in Iraq in 2006 but deserted after being informed of her redeployment the following year, went before the Immigration and Refugee Board in Toronto with her husband and two young children to ask to stay in Canada on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. Instead, she was given until Jan. 27 to voluntarily leave or face deportation.
At the time, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney accused the deserters of filing ``bogus'' refugee claims.
There are at least four other American army deserters and their families facing deportation in January.