Fair and Independent Review Required for US Military Deserters
Guest Blogger: Michelle Robidoux from the War Resisters Support Campaign
Twelve years ago this month, a campaign was launched in Canada to assist U.S. conscientious objectors to the Iraq War in gaining asylum here. Canadians massively rejected the war, and in 2003, the Canadian government made the decision not to participate in it. The many thousands of Vietnam War resisters – both deserters and draft resisters – who were welcomed to Canada 40 years earlier were concrete evidence of Canadians' support for freedom of conscience.
But unlike their predecessors, the Iraq War resisters experienced systematic obstacles to being allowed to stay. Between 2008 and 2012, three of these conscientious objectors were deported by the Canadian government to the United States, where they were arrested, court-martialed and jailed. Each of them was harshly punished, with jail terms of 12 to 15 months and felony convictions.
Those U.S. war resisters who remain in Canada today are in limbo, waiting to find out their fate from the Canadian government. Many are veterans who saw first-hand the horrors of the Iraq War. They made the difficult decision to leave their country, their family and friends to follow their conscience.
The U.S. Iraq War resisters in Canada have benefited from the strong support of Amnesty International Canada, including a recent letter sent to Minister of Immigration John McCallum asking that the discriminatory policies of the previous government against war resisters be withdrawn, and that there be a fair and independent review, on an individual basis, of outstanding cases dealing with U.S. military desertion.
This Sunday May 15th is Conscientious Objector Day, a day which honours the courage of those individuals who could not in good conscience participate in war. To mark this important day, please share this video of AI Canada Secretary General Alex Neve on why Canada should let U.S. conscientious objectors stay:
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