January 9, 2009

Write letters right now

This morning I posted some information about Kimberly Rivera and her family facing deportation by the Canadian government. I wondered what we could do to support them. I contacted the War Resisters Support Campaign in Toronto which had suggested we call or write the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Jason Kenney. However it was noted that this recently appointed immigration minister has adopted a harsh and bullying attitude toward American resisters.

This attitude seems to be that if you signed up, you take what comes; don't try to pull on my heartstrings. What he is unwilling to accept is that the very experience of being a young warrior occupying another country can open a soldier's eyes to the inhumane situation and the reality of killing innocent people. People can change and do.

I was 19 when I joined the Marines back in 1965. I never thought about what I would be doing; my friend and I just wanted get our service time over with. What I experienced changed everthing. It changed my religious beliefs, as well as my social and political views. I wish I had been aware before I went; the last 40 years of my life would have been very different. These soldiers have crossed that line of understanding and have chosen to take a courageous stand.

Many of them joined the Guard thinking they might be called up for disasters such as earthquakes,  hurricanes and floods. Instead they were sent overseas - over and over and over again - to fight an illegal and immoral war. The Harper government has chosen to honor these men and women who stood up to the most powerful military organization in the world by deporting them to an uncertain future.

The good people of Canada have given them refuge and they are rebuilding their lives and building their families. Unfortunately the Prime Minister is a cold man with a nasty agenda. Harper has decided to deport them to the states in spite of a Parliamentary motion supporting the war resisters last summer. 

Five of our resisters are scheduled to be deported by the end of January. This includes Kimberly Rivera, Patrick Hart, Chris Teske, Clifford Cornell, and Dean Walcott. You can read some of their stories online.

What we need to do right now is write letters to the Canadian newspapers showing them that there are many Americans who would like to see our resisters and their families safe with our Canadian friends.  We can also write our local papers.

We also need to help the organizations that are helping our resisters. Organizations like War Resister Support Campaign in Toronto and Courage to Resist in Oakland work hard to help these resisters get work permits and find jobs to support their families and secure housing. They need to pay the lawyers and the costs of assisting the soldiers. Some of the soldiers manage to stay permanently or delay deportation because of successful court decisions. 

The ones that are deported will have their futures determined by the same US Military Justice System that gave us Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp. Some will face prison terms; all will be taken away from the peaceful lives they have established.

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