Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama: Grant Amnesty to All War Resisters

War Resister Group Calls on Obama to Grant Amnesty

Free Speech Radio News
Headlines for Wednesday, January 21, 2009

· Length: 5:20 minutes (4.89 MB)
· Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)

* Israel Out of Gaza, Investigates Use of White Phosphorous
* UK Unemployment Rate Hits 12 Year High
* Mexican Tycoon Bails out NY Times
* Supreme Court Declines to Review Online Porn Law
* War Resister Group Calls on Obama to Grant Amnesty

On Barack Obama's first day in office, a war resisters support group based in Seattle is calling on the president to grant amnesty to US soldiers who refuse to fight in Iraq.

Mark Taylor-Canfield has more from Seattle.

Hundreds of US soldiers have relocated to Canada, Europe or LatinAmerica after choosing not to serve in the US war and occupation in Iraq. Many of the soldiers have gone into Canada by crossing the border between Washington State and British Columbia, which also served as a point of entry for conscientious objectors escaping toCanada during the US war in Vietnam.

Now Project Safe Haven is calling on President Barack Obama to grant immediate amnesty to all US war resisters who have refused to serve in Iraq.

The group is also calling for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq and an end to the war in Afghanistan. Other demands include reparations for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and full benefits and healthcare for US military veterans.

According to Project Safe Haven organizer Gerry Condon, the petition was circulated among national anti-war and veterans groups and was delivered to the President-elect's transition team.

This is Mark Taylor-Canfield for Free Speech Radio News in Seattle.

Click here for audio,

Coalition Government Would Not Deport U.S. War Resisters

MPs Say Canada Should be a Refuge from Militarism

January 21, 2009

The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Liberal and New Democrat MPs pledged Wednesday that U.S. war resisters would not be deported under a coalition government.

Five Americans could face deportation by the end of the month unless there's a last-minute court reprieve or an unexpected policy change by the federal government.

Liberal Mario Silva and New Democrat Olivia Chow said their parties would protect war resisters if Stephen Harper's government were to fall after next week's budget.

Silva invoked the words of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who during the Vietnam War said "Canada should be a refuge from militarism."

"To all those brave men and women who have in fact objected to (the Iraq) war we say, bravo. We say welcome, you should be here in Canada," Silva said at a news conference in Toronto, which was attended by several war resisters and their young families.

The House of Commons passed a motion last June 3 calling for a stop to deportations of war resisters and Silva urged the government to respect that vote.

One war resister, Robin Long, has been deported since the vote and was separated from his Canadian partner and infant son. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison in the U.S.
New Democrat Olivia Chow said Canada must stop deporting war resisters and breaking up families.

"We are a nation of compassion and of peace," she said. "We really should not deport war resisters into American jails."

This week, Christopher Teske, 27, lost his last court bid to stay in the country and faces deportation within days.

Teske, who has been living in British Columbia for two years, said in a statement that he's proud of his decision not to take part in the war in Iraq and wishes he could stay in Canada permanently.

Writer Mary Jo Leddy, a member of the Order of Canada, said the trials in Nuremberg after the Second World War established that soldiers are responsible for their actions, and should be allowed to opt out of conflict if they don't believe in the mission.

"The argument that one must follow orders in all circumstances is no longer justified," she said.
"Following orders is no longer the ultimate test of patriotism."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Island Community Supports Cliff Cornell

Islanders off Coast of British Columbia Show Love for War Resister

Chris Teske Faces Deportation on Inauguration Day


Chris Teske, a war resister who lives in BC, is scheduled to be thrown out of Canada and sent back to the US tomorrow. Chris and his lawyer will be in federal court today, asking for a stay of deportation.

Here's Chris's story in his own words.

January 4th, 2009

Hello,My name is Christopher John Teske. I am a former paratrooper and infantryman in the United States Army. I enlisted prior to the September 11th attacks on the world trade center for patriotic reasons and to fund the completion of my college education.

As I finished my training as a soldier, my country was attacked on September 11th, 2001. I was deeply upset that that civilians were specifically targeted. Shortly after the events of 9/11 I volunteered for combat assignment and was immediately deployed to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division.

While there I took part in the largest ground offensive of the war: "Operation Anaconda". When I returned from my deployment I was deeply troubled with the morality of armed conflict. I was also not convinced that the US Military's objectives and long term goals in Afghanistan were transparent, honest, or even attainable. Before I was able to personally sort out my feelings I was redeployed to Afghanistan, this time to the Waziristan Region to conduct counter insurgency operations.

Deciding to return to Afghanistan for a second tour of duty was the hardest decision of my life. And now, in retrospect was wrong. I based my decision to deploy based on fear. I failed to listen to my conscience because I was scared of what the Army would do to me if I did not follow orders.Ultimately, I was more scared of official punishment than I was of losing my life in combat. I have always paid deeply for that decision. I am haunted by that decision.

After my second tour of duty, I was honorably discharged from the Military and tried to move on with my life. I continue to be haunted by my military experiences in Afghanistan. I am very guarded about discussing what has happened to me and what I have seen. For me it was a time best left forgotten. To make peace with myself I decided I would never repeat what I had been through with the Army and I would never try to harm anyone, anyone ever again.I was unaware that the Army had placed me into the "Inactive Ready Reserve" until two years after my discharge from Afghanistan, when they ordered me to report for a physical exam as I was to be reactivated for combat service, this time in Iraq. I had already made the personal decision to not participate in any armed conflict based on my personal belief that it is immoral.It soon became apparent that I was trapped in the Army, escape was impossible and my only intended purpose was to “engage and destroy the enemy”, IE: kill. Period.

At this point I made the only decision that seemed logical. I researched desertion and stumbled across the War Resisters here in Canada. In a sea of madness I made the only sane choice available. I deserted my unit and came to Canada.I have lived and worked in Canada for over 2 years now. I call the Kootenays my home. I came here to start fresh and make a new life for myself. I do not discuss my military past with anyone, most people I know or work with have no idea I am from the United States, was in the Military, or served in a War.

As I said, for me it was a time best left forgotten.However, it seems as hard as I try to forget the institution which enslaved me, they have not forgotten about me. I have been denied at every turn in my immigration process. I have now been ordered to leave Canada and I am about to be turned over to the American Government and in turn the US Army.I face a multitude of charges: The first is desertion max time 4 years. The second: failure to deploy with my unit to Iraq with a max time of 3 years. (All felony charges) And the last, is desertion in time of war. Which if they choose is punishable by death. I also face possible redeployment to Iraq.

I am proud of my decision to come to Canada. It is the first of my adult life which I can say that about. Looking back I would do it all over again. I believe it was the only correct choice I had at the time. I am proud I had the courage to follow my conscience.I am going to fight to protect the life I have started here in Canada. I love Canada and have found a certain peace in the mountains of the Kootenays that I have never before experienced in my life. I appreciate the support and understanding from all the Canadians I have met. Canada is my home and in these final days I intend to fight to maintain the legal right to remain here with the people that I love so much.I would appreciate anything that you can do to assist me in that endeavor.

Christopher John Teske
Former Specialist, US Army

Chris' friends and supporters are holding a pot-luck tonight, so they can be together when they get word that the deportation has been stayed. Local people have been very supportive, and Member of Parliament Alex Atamanenko (NDP, BC Southern Interior), a strong supporter of war resisters in Canada, has been speaking out on Chris' behalf.We'll be holding our breath all day. More later. Now please go write your letters!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Vietnam, Afghanistan, and GI Resistance


One of the lessons of the Vietnam antiwar movement is this: ALL forms of resistance are valid. It’s okay to advocate one or another form of resistance, as long as you understand that ALL forms of resistance WILL take place. It is a big mistake to play one form of resistance off against another form of resistance. Resisting deployment orders and/or going AWOL, for example, should not be played off against joining the military to organize soldiers against the war. Even if one chooses to re-deploy to Iraq and document the war, some good may well come from that action.

We should especially try to avoid getting too moralistic about individual choices. There is no “pure” or “correct” form of resistance. There is only resistance. Furthermore, the various forms of resistance will form the whole of a multi-faceted resistance movement.

Having said that, I too have been concerned about a culture within the GI resistance movement that says it’s fine to remain part of the war machine. Should we be telling antiwar soldiers they can resist illegal wars while following military orders? Can soldiers resist war while protecting their military careers and their prospects in civilian life? Hmmm...

Resistance generally means taking some risks and dealing with some consequences. It means going AGAINST, not going WITH. In the context of soldiers of imperialism, it generally means withdrawing their participation from, and/or acting against military missions.

What can be more powerful than a soldier saying, “NO, I will NOT participate in this illegal slaughter and oppression of entire peoples.” To roughly paraphrase Arlo Guthrie in his epic anti-draft song, Alice’s Restaurant: If one person does, it, they’ll think he’s crazy, or a coward, or a hero. If two people do it together, they’ll think they are gay. And if three, four, five, twenty or one hundred people do it together, they’ll think it’s a movement. And that’s what it will be – a real resistance movement strong enough, along with the ferocious resistance of the Iraqis, the Afghans, and the Palestinians, to frighten the imperialists into pulling back.

The incoming administration is signaling a HUGE, LONG-TERM commitment to war and occupation in Afghanistan and the surrounding countries. This is a recipe for ongoing death and destruction on a massive scale. What would be a quicker, more effective way to pour water on this dubious mission than the public refusal of U.S. soldiers to deploy to that war? What a strategic victory that would be to build upon!

How many GIs are ready to publicly refuse to go to Afghanistan, individually or together? Maybe only a few at this point. But if they are encouraged, (de-) mobilized and supported, others will follow their example.

I hope I am not guilty of wishful thinking. I know I am impatient. But I think one of our biggest moral failings as an antiwar movement is that we have been way too patient. If organizations can help build the resistance, then we should build those organizations. But the main thing is to build the resistance.

Most of us are not in the shoes of the GIs or even in a position to take their pulse. So, clearly, we must be somewhat humble with our advice. But there are a number of ways that we can demonstrate our support for GI resistance. We can defend every GI resister in every way we can – with money, with publicity, with legal support, political support, and moral support. We can advocate for GIs who are seeking sanctuary in Canada, Germany and elsewhere. We can build communities of sanctuary in the United States that can shelter AWOL GI’s. We can build a political movement that demands amnesty for all war resisters. Soldiers should not be punished for following their own consciences and obeying international law.

Finally, we cannot expect anything approaching massive resistance within the military if there is no massive resistance taking place outside the military, among civilians who have fewer constraints upon them than GI’s, and, generally, less to lose. Are we willing to fully express our right to free speech? Are we willing to take risks for peace and justice? Only when thousands of us are demonstrating our own resistance on a regular basis, will that resistance be reflected within the military.

ALL of us have the responsibility to build an effective movement of resistance to war and imperialism. NONE of us has all the answers, yet TOGETHER we may succeed in building effective resistance. We have all, every one of us, erred by being too cautious. Now, perhaps, we will dare to be bold. The hour is getting late.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Kimberly Rivera and Family Ordered to Leave Canada

War Resister Kimberley Rivera & Family ordered to leave CanadaKimberley Rivera, along with her husband and three young children, have been told that they must leave Canada by January 27 or face removal to the United States.Kimberley served in Iraq in 2006. In 2007 she refused redeployment and became the first female U.S. Iraq war resister to come to Canada. She lives now in Toronto with her husband Mario, son Christian (6 years), daughter Rebecca (4 years), and newborn Canadian daughter Katie (6 weeks). Her experience in Iraq was a huge awakening and convinced Kimberley that the war was immoral and that she could not participate in it.

"Coming to Canada began a new chapter filled with opportunities and hope for my family. I am just glad I get to be a mom again," said Rivera.Despite a June 2008 Parliamentary motion supporting war resisters, the Harper government continues its policy of deporting them. In July 2008, war resister Robin Long was deported from British Columbia and punished with 15 months in jail, separating him from his wife and infant son, and a felony conviction that will cause him lifelong hardship.
URGENT ACTION - please take a few minutes to show your support for Kimberly Rivera and the other war resisters threatened with deportation. Call or email Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Jason Kenney today and ask him to:
STOP deportation proceedings against U.S. Iraq war resister Kimberley Rivera and her family; and
IMPLEMENT the motion adopted by Canada's Parliament to allow U.S. Iraq war resisters to apply for permanent resident status.
Here are the numbers to call:
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney
Call 613.954.1064
MP Jason Kenney's Parliamentary office: 613.992.2235
Please cc the opposition party critics if you email Jason Kenney:
Liberal party immigration critic Borys Wrzesnewskyj:
NDP immigration critic Olivia Chow:
Bloc Québécois immigration critic Thierry St-Cyr:
And please also send a copy to the War Resisters Support Campaign,