Saturday, January 26, 2008

Canadian war resisters

Caroline Franks of 580 CFRA News Talk Radio notes that rallies are taking place in Canada to call on the Canadian Parliament to to provide a safe haven to US war resisters and that they took place at Canadian embassassies in the US yesterday.

That's a Canadian outlet. Vic is very angry at a 'Canadian' (I don't think she's Canadian Vic, she moved to Canada and she's always talking about how she plans to vote in this year's US election, so I don't think she's Canadian, I think she's a US citizen who just blathers on about Canada -- were she to change her citizenship, she wouldn't be able to vote in the US elections) who's taken to insisting that Canadian media is not covering the actions. Vic, one of our most vocal Canadian members, is correct that media -- big and small -- in Canada is covering this.

Yesterday, the CBC covered it -- that would be "big media" in Canada. From their "U.S. protesters demand Canadian protection for war deserters:"

Demonstrators gathered outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington Friday to demand protection for U.S. soldiers who seek refuge north of the border to avoid deployment to Iraq.
A group of about 50 American veterans of the Iraq war and their supporters said they want the Canadian government to provide sanctuary to men and women trying to escape military commitments in the U.S.

"We believe that these war resisters should be allowed a safe haven from persecution on the basis of resisting an illegal and immoral war and occupation," said Max Diorio, an organizer for California-based Courage to Resist.
In a letter addressed to Ambassador Michael Wilson, the protesters demanded the government bar the deportation of U.S. 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 refugee board that hears the soldiers' applications has wrongly refused to consider the question of whether the Iraq war is legal -- a question central to the soldiers' request for sanctuary.

The CBC piece notes it's also utilizing the Canadian Press, click here for Google's posting of the story (which may disappear in a few weeks) and you can go to The Canadian Press and search for the original article.

Yesterday evening, Carol Mulligan's "Anti-war activists to demonstrate in Sudbury on Saturday" (The Sudbury Star) went up:

Michael Espinal was so determined not to serve a second tour of duty in a war he considered immoral that he fled Florida with his pregnant partner in October and sought refuge in Sudbury. Espinal and Jennifer Harrison will be among those attending a rally Saturday to pressure the federal government to allow United States war resisters to remain in Canada.
Espinal participated in the siege of Fallujah when he was serving with the U.S. military in Iraq. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the attack, and Espinal suffers post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his experience there.
But he and Harrison, who is expecting in April, are making a new home in Sudbury with support from the War Resisters Support Campaign.

Mulligan notes that Sunday's Sudbury Star will have a longer article.

In the US, Jeff Paterson's "Supporters of War Resisters Stage Vigil at SF Canadian Consulate" (Indybay Media) notes:

Thousands of letter and petitions were delivered this afternoon to the Canadian Consulate in 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 in Canada to remain. Three dozen supporters rallied in the rain, leafleted, and cheered on the Raging Grannies' songs about 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 a important preliminary victory, the committee adopted a motion that would allow any war resister seek sanctuary in Canada if opposing 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 legal appeals have now been exhausted.

Pablo Paredes, Mike Wong, Ying Lee, and Stephen McNeil are among those noted in the article.
And Paterson is known for his photo journalism so, yes, photos also are included.

Paterson's work regularly appears at Courage to Resist but hasn't been cross-posted there yet (it's early in the morning as I write this, Mike's posting this for me later today when Wally and Cedric are getting ready to post) but you will find there that Friday's actions were planned in DC, NYC, Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas, LA, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.

Canada's right-wing press began noting the actions in the US and in Canada yesterday. We don't link to them. But it is worth noting that they were out to discredit the actions before they started.

Wally's grandfather notes Audrey Parente's "Combat, family stress bring soldier to desert" (Daytona Beach News-Journal):

Early December 2007:
In the midst of a desperate firefight in Iraq, as shots ricocheted around him, Sgt. Allen Robert "Robby" Keller IV froze for a moment. Any soldier knows that can be a death sentence.
The 23-year-old had enlisted at 19 "to get on a good financial foot for college." For months before that terrible instant of immobility, his combat stress had led to sleeplessness, nightmares and loss of appetite. He was wracked with worry about his wife, Michaelagh, at home having problems with her second pregnancy.
For the first time in his four-year military career, during his second deployment, Keller was losing control, having an emotional breakdown.
He made it safely out of the streets and sought help. He was soon going to be headed home on leave to Holly Hill. He had "aid from the combat stress people" in the form of medication, and surely everything would be OK.
While Keller was on leave, his wife went into early labor, and on Christmas Day she had her baby boy in Canada, her native land.
Keller was supposed to be away from his post for only a few weeks, but on Dec. 26 things changed.
That's when Keller went absent without leave.
He hasn't returned to his unit, and as of today he remains in Canada and will be dropped from the rolls at Fort Drum, N.Y., as a deserter and a warrant will be issued for his arrest.
Last year 4,698 soldiers deserted the Army, a number that has grown steadily. The number is more than 80 percent above the count for 2003, during the start of the Iraq War.

Due to the way PBS stations set their own schedules, Bill Moyers Journal may be airing today or tomorrow (or re-airing) in your area. If you missed it this week (remember you can also catch it online, fully accessible to all with computers), you will want to catch it. From opening to closing, it was the best thus far of 2008. Ruth's "Bill Moyers Journal" notes the program.

Noting the coverage, it may be interesting to ponder who much coverage an upcoming event will receive: IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 16th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'."

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