War resister news: Jan 19-24: let them stay week!
JANUARY 19-24 : LET THEM STAY WEEK
If we don\'t raise our voices loudly and clearly, January will be Deportation Month for Iraq War resisters in Canada. Take a look at this:
Chris Teske - deportation date January 20
Cliff Cornell - deportation date January 22
Kim Rivera (along with spouse Mario, and children Christian, Rebecca and Katie) - deportation date January 27
Patrick Hart (along with spouse Jill and son Rian) - deportation deferred from January 15 to January 29
Dean Walcott - deportation deferred from January 6 to January 30
It\'s no coincidence that these are all stacked up before Parliament returns. And with the throne speech on January 26 and the budget on January 27, we can be sure any late-January deportations will slip under the media radar.
In addition, there are three important court dates in February and March, for Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key and Matt Lowell. Decisions in these cases could well affect all the resisters. It would be tragic to send people to military prisons in the US, only to learn a few weeks later that the court is deciding in their favour.
With this in mind, the War Resisters Support Campaign is asking you to join us for Let Them Stay Week.
Beginning January 19, people all over Canada will call Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney, call their MPs, write letters to local newspapers, email their friends, hand out leaflets, blog, Facebook and whatever else we can think of.
We must keep this issue visible, and make our demands clear: we want the Government of Canada to follow the will of the people. The majority of Canadians - almost two-thirds in the most recent poll - want Canada to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. That was clearly expressed in Parliament on June 3, when all three opposition parties passed a motion calling on the Government to Let Them Stay.
Harper ignored the motion, then, after shutting down Parliament, is rapidly deporting war resisters.
This is not only about the 50-odd US war resisters who have applied for refugee status in Canada. It\'s about democracy. It\'s about what kind of Canada we want to live in.
Please join us for Let Them Stay week. More details here and on Resisters.ca as they happen
Kenney\'s comments prejudice hearings for war resisters, critics say
Last Updated: Friday, January 9, 2009
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney\'s comments that U.S. military deserters living in Canada are \"bogus refugee claimants\" reveal the government has a prejudiced outlook on their cases, advocacy groups say.
\"Everyone, including war resisters, has a right to expect their applications will be dealt with in a fair and impartial manner,\" Lee Zaslofsky, co-ordinator of the War Resisters Support Campaign, said in a release.
\"Minister Kenney\'s comments show the Harper government has a blanket policy of opposition to all war resisters, which makes it nearly impossible for them to be treated on a \'case-by-case basis\' as our government has been leading Canadians to believe they would.\"
Earlier this week, Kenney responded to a ruling by the Immigration and Refugee Board that Kimberly Rivera, reported to be the first U.S. female deserter seeking asylum in Canada, had to leave the country.
The mother of three\'s request to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds was rejected at a hearing in Mississauga, Ont. Her family has been told to leave Canada by Jan. 27.
\"We\'re not talking about draft dodgers, we\'re not talking about resisters,\" Kenney told Canwest News earlier this week.
\"We\'re talking about people who volunteer to serve in the armed forces of a democratic country and simply change their mind to desert. And that\'s fine, that\'s the decision they have made, but they are not refugees.\"
\"I don\'t appreciate people adding to the backlog and clogging up the system whose claims are being rejected consistently 100 per cent of the time,\" Kenney said later on Parliament Hill, adding that they are \"bogus refugee claimants.\"
Comments seen as interference
In an open letter to Kenney, Elizabeth McWeeny, president of the Canadians Council for Refugees, wrote that it was \"highly inappropriate\" for Kenney to express his opinions on how he believes board members should make refugee determinations.
\"To do so gives the strong appearance of political interference,\" she wrote. \"Public comments such as yours only make IRB members\' job more difficult and threaten claimants\' right to an unbiased decision.\"
She also dismissed Kenney\'s claim that refugee claims by U.S. war resisters are leading to delays for others, saying the number is \"minuscule\" and will have \"no appreciable impact\" on delays.
In an email to CBCNews.ca on Friday, Alykhan Velshi, a spokesman for Kenney, repeated that the government doesn\'t believe these refugee claims are legitimate.
\"Although the Immigration and Refugee Board is an independent agency that will consider each asylum claim on a case-by-case basis, it\'s our position as a government that, as a general rule, military deserters from the United States are not genuine refugees under the internationally accepted meaning of the term,\" Velshi said.
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