[composite: tribute to the late pierre trudeau, former premier of canada]
it takes courage to say that you will not fight—especially if you are a soldier. as more in the u.s. military step forward for peace, the peace movement must support them. large numbers now refuse to serve: department of defense estimates approxmately 8,000 awol service members. the g.i. rights hotline (800.394.9544) currently receives about 3,000 calls monthly. in canada, call 416.598.1222.
growing number of soldiers are speaking out against the illegality and immorality of the iraq war and the orders they are being told to carry out. these brave men and women risk jail time and their futures to stand up against the war.
stories of returning combat veterans helped turn the tide and end the war in vietnam. today's war resisters are providing critical first-hand knowledge of the horror and illegality of the iraq war. each service member who has spoken out against the war in iraq has inspired more war resisters to come forward.
steps you can take?
keep war resisters' cases in the media: write letters to the editor of your local newspaper or call into radio talk shows and talk about their cases
organize a war resister solidarity event in your area: invite a war resister or someone working on a war resister's case to speak at a public event
keep pressure on the military to treat war resisters fairly. write letters to officials at the base where a resister is being held and/or such cases are being triedwrite letters of personal support.
check out the following websites for the latest news on war resisters' cases and more specific information on how best to help them: http://www.objector.org/ http://www.couragetoresist.org/ http://www.centeronconscience.org/ http://www.resisters.ca/ http://www.nodraftnoway.org/news.php?subaction=showfull&id=1093969526&archive=&start_from=&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;ucaton
dr. martin luther king jr. day, a petition called “an appeal for redress,” signed by more than 500 active duty troops, will be delivered to congress. it reads: “as a patriotic american proud to serve the nation in uniform, i respectfully urge my political leaders in congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all american military forces and bases from iraq. staying in iraq will not work and is not worth the price. it is time for u.s. troops to come home." to support this initiative—sponsored by iraq veterans against the war, veterans for peace, and military families speak out—write letters to the editors of your local newspapers and to your congressional representatives, bringing this campaign to their attention, and urging them to listen to these courageous soldiers.
activists who remember the vietnam war fondly recall then-canadian-premier pierre trudeau’s policy delineating his country as a “refuge from militarism.” upwards of 50,000 u.s. draft resisters and military deserters found refuge in canada during that past conflict. most never returned. sadly, the days of trudeau are long gone—in which canadian immigration authorities were instructed not to discriminate against applicants who may not have fulfilled their military obligations in other countries—and the canadian economy no longer has the flexibility to admit such numbers.
despite this, several hundred awol g.i.s are estimated to be in canada, and 25 of them have applied for political refugee status. the first two, jeremy hinzman and brandon hughey, had their claims for refugee status denied, but their cases are making their way through canada’s federal court system. additionally, the canadian labour council, the equivalent of the afl-cio, has endorsed the war resister support campaign—for sanctuary for u.s. war resisters in canada—as have many prominent canadians. (current regulations require would-be immigrants to apply from outside canada, to have much needed job skills and/or substantial financial resources, and to wait up to two years for a response. the only exceptions are where the u.s. citizen is married to a canadian citizen or is a permanent resident or “landed immigrant” or is the son/daughter of a parent who has canadian citizenship or permanent residency.)