Canada deports war resisters
Campaign launched for sanctuary
Jan 31, 2009
Iraq war resisters Cliff Cornell and Chris Teske were deported from Canada
last week. Teske crossed the British Columbia-Washington state border
unassisted on Jan. 22 at an undisclosed location. Cornell planned to do the
same on Jan. 23.
The two resisters now join thousands of their fellow resisters in the U.S.
who live a clandestine existence while deciding whether to turn themselves
Cliff Cornell and Chris Teske
Kimberly Rivera was luckier: she got a stay of the order that she leave on
Jan. 27. Rivera served in Iraq in 2006. Her experience in Iraq convinced her
that the war was immoral and that she could not participate in it, and in 2007
she refused redeployment and became the first woman to publicly seek refuge in
Canada as a U.S. Iraq war resister. She now lives in Toronto with her spouse
Mario, her 6-year-old son Christian, her 4-year-old daughter Rebecca and her
newborn daughter Katie.
The government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is planning
more deportations. Army Sgt. Patrick Hart, his spouse Jill and their son have
been ordered to leave Jan. 29. Hart is a New York native who served nine years
in the Army until he was stationed in Kuwait during 2004. In 2005, Hart went
absent without leave rather than be deployed to Iraq. After arriving in Canada
he declared, “If you want to support the troops, bring them
Dean Walcott was ordered to leave Jan. 30. A Marine from Connecticut,
Walcott went AWOL in 2007 following an Iraq deployment and has lived in Canada
since. He “was with the military police and all we ever did was run
convoys around a very little part of Iraq.” (couragetoresist.org)
The struggle in Canada to defend war resisters has been nonstop since last
spring. There is a strong War Resister Support Campaign in Canada, which
unifies the efforts of labor and religious organizations, students and the
peace movement. This coalition sparked a campaign last year that won a
parliamentary resolution demanding the government let the war resisters stay.
The resolution won the support of all three major opposition parties.
These parties are now united in an urgent effort to bring down the
government. Parliament reopened this week after a six-week holiday recess, and
the future of the Harper government is at the top of the agenda.
Lawyers for the WRSC have been working to reverse or delay the deportation
orders. Federal judges in eastern Canada have tended to make rulings in their
favor, but it has gone the other way in the more reactionary western provinces
where Harper has greater support.
Sanctuary campaign needed
These “removal orders” mark a turning point for war resisters in
Canada. Prior to now, Robin Long was the only war resister deported from Canada
since the Vietnam War. He was convicted by an Army court-martial upon his
forced return, sentenced to 15 months confinement and is currently held in a
brig at Miramar, just north of San Diego, Calif.
Jeff Paterson, director of the Oakland, Calif.,-based Courage to Resist,
told Workers World his organization will be “working with these resisters
and our allies nationwide to create communities of support for these courageous
individuals and to make U.S.-based civilian legal defense available.”
Gerry Condon of Project Safe Haven told Workers World: “We must
prepare to defend war resisters who are deported and court-martialed. We need
to build communities of sanctuary in the U.S. And we need to demand that
President Obama grant amnesty to all war resisters.”