Project Safe Haven / July 15, 2008
Today, the minority Conservative government of Canada will achieve one of its long sought goals: the deportation of a U.S. war resister who would not fight in Iraq. Despite polls showing that nearly two-thirds of Canadians want to grant sanctuary to Iraq War refusers, and the passage of a Parliamentary motion that would allow them to immigrate to Canada, the Canadian Border Service Agency in British Columbia will bring war resister Robin Long to the border today and turn him over to U.S. authorities.
“This is a gift from Stephen Harper to George Bush,” says Gerry Condon of Project Safe Haven, referring to the conservative heads of state of Canada and the U.S. “And it is a gift to the headline writers, who will trumpet that Canada is no longer a safe haven for AWOL GIs.
“But it is an illusion,” says Condon, “because this is not the first of many deportations. It may be the first and the last. A minority government that ignores the will of its people and its Parliament will not be allowed to rule much longer.” Federal elections are expected to take place in Canada this fall.
Project Safe Haven, a war resister advocacy group based in Seattle, Washington, is calling on war resister supporters to gather at 9 am this morning at Peace Arch Park on the U.S.-Canada border at Blaine, Washington. There they will be joined by Canadian supporters.
In the meantime, an Iraq veteran who voluntarily returned to the U.S. after seeking asylum in Canada, is slated to be court-martialed Wednesday at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the same base where Robin Long is expected to be imprisoned.
James Burmeister, who was wounded in Iraq and suffers from PTSD, will be facing a court martial tomorrow (July 16) at the Fort Knox base. According to a statement issued today by his support team:
The prosecutor will try to hold him to AWOL and desertion charges. They will likely reject that James ever suffered from PTSD in Germany, post-IED. They will likely attack and refute any arguments based on erroneous enlistment. Their objective will be to make an example of James, to encourage the army to see Burmeister as lacking in discipline, judgment and courage.
(for more information, contact PFC James Burmeister Support Campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org).
“This is the way the U.S. Army treats those who refuse to commit war crimes,” stated Gerry Condon. “And this is why our war resisters need a safe haven in Canada. We are confident that the will of the Canadian people in this matter will prevail. In the meantime, AWOL GIs will continue to go to Canada where they will be helped by the War Resisters Support Campaign (www.resisters.ca).”
Contact: Gerry Condon 206-499-1220