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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This alert, was posted to the We Move to Canada blog, August 7, 2009
Toronto-area supporters of US war resisters in Canada, at 4:30 p.m., come to the northeast corner of University Avenue and Queen Street West.
Iraq War Veteran Rodney Watson is scheduled to be deported from Canada on Monday. Watson served in Iraq, saw what was happening there, and said NO to a war of aggression against civilians. In 2007, he refused a second deployment and came to Canada.
The Harper minority government is ordering him to leave Canada by August 10. Join us as we raise our voices in protest, and stand in solidarity with Rodney.
Stop The Deportations! Let Them Stay!
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.
The following actions and activities were originally posted to the Let Them Stay Campaign facebook page
LET THEM STAY Week
March 15-22, 2009
Welcome War Resisters, Not War Criminals
On the 6th anniversary of the illegal Iraq war, George Bush will be visiting Calgary to give his first speech since leaving office. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney both wanted Canada to take part in Bush's war, and have been punishing US soldiers for refusing to participate in it.
While Americans voted Bush out of office, and Canada's Parliament voted to let Iraq war resisters stay, Harper and Kenney continue to defy democracy and support the Iraq war through their policy of deporting US Iraq war resisters. Since last summer, three US Iraq war resisters have been deported by the Harper government. During the week that Bush visits Canada, Canadians will be rallying from coast to coast to demand of Harper and Kenney: "welcome war resisters, not war criminals."
Please check the listings below for events you can participate in.
Leafletting Day: Choose a busy corner in your city and hand out leaflets in support of war resisters to help spread the word and involve more people. You can download a leaflet here. See local events below to find out about leafletting sessions which are planned for your city.
Monday, March 16: Letter-to-the-Editor Day: Send a letter to your local newspaper to support U.S. Iraq war resisters. Some points you can include:
Canada refused to fight in Iraq and a majority of Canadians support US Iraq war resisters
on June 3rd Parliament passed a motion to stop deporting war resisters and to let them stay
Prime Minister Harper and Immigration Minister Kenney need to respect Parliament
Canada should welcome war resisters, rather than welcoming war criminal George Bush
Tuesday, March 17:
Bush Visit to Calgary The protest against George Bush will include shoes gathered from across the country. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has enthusiastically agreed to gather shoes for the protest. They can be sent to CUPW-Calgary Local, 109 - 5621 - 11 St. N.E., Calgary AB, T2E 627.
National Phone-In Day: Phone or email the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Tell him that you want him to respect Canadian democracy and the Canadian Parliament by implementing the motion to stop deportation proceedings against U.S. Iraq war resisters and allow them to stay.
Contact info: Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney,
Call 613.954.1064 (Ministry office)
613.992.2235 (Parliamentary Office)
Or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Kennej@parl.gc.ca
Please cc the opposition party critics if you email Jason Kenney:
Liberal party immigration critic Maurizio Bevilacqua: BevilM@parl.gc.ca
Friday, March 20: Visit or call your local MP
Call or visit your local Member of Parliament's office and tell them you support war resisters. If your MP is a Conservative, tell them you want the government to implement the Parliamentary motion to stop the deportations of war resisters and let them stay in Canada.
If your MP is a member of one of the opposition parties, ask them to reaffirm their support for the motion and speak out publicly at this critical time against the deportations.
The War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada is building a website of Viet Nam era war resisters (both draft and military) who went to Canada during the Viet Nam war. The website will be used to urge the Canadian government, "Let Them Stay," referring to current day resisters. They are interested in having resisters on the website whether they stayed in Canada after the war or eventually came back to the US. See below.
yours in peace,
Fw: In search of vietnam war resisters who came to canada
If you are a Vietnam War resister who came to Canada, you may be interested in this website the War Resisters Support Campaign is building: "Let Them Stay" at: http://letthemstay.ca/.
Whether you are a Canadian citizen still living in Canada, or you returned to the US - whether you were a deserter, a draft resister, or simply an outraged USian - if you'd like to be part of this effort, you are welcome to join.
Click "add my name", fill out the form, and someone will contact you about getting your info up on the site.
If you know any Vietnam-era resisters, perhaps you will share the link with them.
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.