Iraq War resister facing deportation has taken sanctuary in Vancouver church

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Iraq War resister facing deportation has taken sanctuary in Vancouver church

From the War Resisters Support Campaign

October 19, 2009

Statement regarding the situation of 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.