U.S. Iraq War resister Rodney Watson has disclosed the location
of the United Church where he has sought refuge.
Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, The Province
The War Resisters Support Campaign Statement regarding the situation of U.S. Iraq War resister Rodney Watson
VANCOUVER—The War Resisters Support Campaign is a network of volunteers working together to provide assistance to members of the U.S. military seeking refuge in Canada as a result of their opposition to the illegal war in Iraq. Groups exist in many centres across the country and include a wide diversity of age and origin including many former U.S. citizens welcomed to our country during the Vietnam era.
The Campaign was initiated following the arrival of Jeremy Hinzman in 2004, the first of the new generation of conscientious resisters. Our work has focused primarily on assisting these young men and women in the legal aspect of their search for refuge in Canada, and in lobbying for a provision to be enacted that would ensure that U.S. Iraq War resisters are allowed to remain in Canada rather than face imprisonment or forced participation in an illegal war.
The War Resisters Support Campaign works within the Canadian legal and political systems. We also work in consultation with, and respect for, each individual resister with regard to their wishes and choices. With respect to Rodney Watson's decision to request and accept sanctuary from the congregation of the First United Church we are appreciative of the church members' courageous moral stance.
We are also in agreement that this choice, by both Rodney and the church, is consistent with Canadian traditions and values of peaceful resistance to unjust decisions by government. We reiterate that through two majority votes, Parliament has called on the Government of Canada to stop the deportation of these war resisters. This reflects the majority view in this country as expressed in public opinion polls. Yet the Government of Canada has chosen to ignore both Parliament's direction and the will of Canadians.
It would be unconscionable to deport Rodney Watson, separating him from his Canadian fiancée and son, after Canadians and their political representatives have spoken so clearly. The punishment faced by resisters who have already been forced back to the U.S. by the Conservative minority government has been exceptionally harsh because they spoke out against the war – a war that Canada chose not to participate in. This is the fate that certainly awaits Rodney if he is forced back to the U.S. against his will.
We call on all Canadians who agree with Rodney's decision not to participate in the Iraq War, to support the stand that he and the First United Church have taken. Write, email, phone or personally contact your Member of Parliament and urge them to call on the Government of Canada to respect the will of Parliament and end the threat of deportation against Rodney Watson.
We urge Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to halt all efforts to deport Rodney Watson and all of the other resisters who are facing persecution if forced back into the United States.
-thanks to War Resisters Support Campaign
from the Ottawa Citizen:
VANCOUVER — U.S. army deserter Rodney Watson has become the first fugitive from service in Iraq to enter church sanctuary in Canada.
Monday morning, the 31-year-old told reporters he has been living in refuge at the First United Church in Vancouver since Sept. 18.
"I don't believe it will be just for me to be deported," said Watson, flanked by church ministers and supporters. Watson lost his refugee claim on Sept. 11, and was expecting to be deported back to the U.S., where he faces jail for refusing to do a second tour of duty in Iraq.
The main reason Watson wants to stay is to be with his 10-month-old son and fiancee, who live in Vancouver. Watson said his son is currently in foster care, but wouldn't say why. He said he plans to get married and settle in B.C.
Ric Matthews, minister with the First United Church, said Watson has an apartment at the church, and is fed on-site. Watson cannot leave the grounds of the church.
Matthews said the church agreed to let Watson take refuge because it doesn't support the Iraq War, or the way the U.S. military treated Watson — who signed up to be a military cook, but was ordered to find explosives.
"We expect the authorities will continue to respect this place as a place of sanctuary," he said.
Sarah Bjorknas of the War Resisters Support Campaign Vancouver said three out of the five military deserters who have been deported from Canada since 2008 have been jailed.
A statement by Vancouver NDP MP Libby Davies said she'll continue to ask the Tory government to honour two non-binding votes in Parliament to allow army deserters to seek asylum in Canada.
"The government has chosen to ignore the will of the majority view of Canadians," said Bjorknas.
-thanks to the Ottawa Citizen
This man can stay in Canada legally. Canadians can make this happen. Tell your MP to support Bill C-440!
-thanks to We Move To Canada
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