March 10, 2009

Vietnam and Iraq Veterans Call on Harper to End Deportations

by War Resisters Support Campaign
A group of U.S. military veterans will visit Vancouver this week to show support for war resisters who are seeking sanctuary in Canada.

"We are proud of our young men and women who have refused to be part of the illegal war in Iraq," declared Mike Ferner, President of Veterans For Peace. "These war resisters had the courage to listen to their consciences. Unlike President Bush, they obeyed international law."


The group of Vietnam and Iraq War veterans expressed mixed feelings about their visit to Canada.

"We want to thank the Canadian people," said Mike Ferner. "We will forever be grateful to you for opening your hearts and your homes to our war resisters.

"But we are very disturbed that the Harper government continues to deport war resisters," continued Ferner. "As long as the war in Iraq continues, war resisters will face persecution in the United States."

Vietnam veterans and Iraq veterans will speak at a forum at 7 pm on Tuesday evening at the Unitarian Church, 49th Ave. and Oak St. in Vancouver. The Unitarian Church event, which is open to the public, will include a photography exhibit of veterans experience in both wars.

There are an estimated 250 U.S. war resisters in Canada, and about fifty have applied for refugee status. But none of the war resisters has yet been granted refugee status, and the Harper government has brushed aside a Parliamentary motion to allow them to live in Canada.

"What happened?" asked Elliott Adams, a Vietnam paratrooper and recent past president of Veterans For Peace. "I was in Ottawa on June 3 when the House of Commons passed a motion to stop these deportations and let the war resisters stay."

Last July, the Harper government deported war resister Robin Long, and it recently forced two war resisters living in British Columbia to return to the U.S. Robin Long was subsequently convicted of desertion and is serving a 15-months in a military prison. Clifford Cornell, who was living on Gabriola Island, has been charged with desertion and is facing the possibility of years in prison.

War resisters Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart and Kimberly Rivera, who are in Canada with spouses and young children, are now fighting imminent deportation in Federal Court.

"Does Stephen Harper have a heart?" asked Elliott Adams. "What does he think will happen to these young children when their fathers and mothers are sent to prison?"

U.S. war resisters in Vancouver expressed their gratitude to the veterans. "The veterans' visit means a lot to us," said Jules Tindungan, who fought in Afghanistan before refusing orders to Iraq. "It's great to know we have supporters on both sides of the border."
Veterans For Peace has sent an open letter to the Canadian government encouraging it to allow U.S. war resisters to remain in Canada. The Harper government has not yet responded

Veterans For Peace has grown rapidly since the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The organization's 7,000 members include veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the current war in Iraq.

The Veterans for Peace delegation and Iraq War resisters living in Vancouver will be available for interviews from 6 PM - 6:45 PM on Tuesday March 10th at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, 949 W. 49th Ave.

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