July 10th Vigil at the Manitoba Legislature

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About 15 Winnipeg peace activists assembled at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg, July 10, to show solidarity with American soldiers who have fled to Canada rather than participate in the ongoing war crime being perpetrated by the United States in Iraq.

Here are recordings of what speakers at the vigil had to say about this war and others and the importance of standing in solidarity with American war resisters.

As Vietnam war resister Howard Davidson put it: “Without soldiers, there is no war.”

Michael WelchVigil organizer Michael Welch focused on the motives of American war resisters and their refusal to continue to fight in a war that has claimed the lives of over one million men, women and children. He called on the federal government to implement the will of Parliament and the Canadian people and let war resisters stay in Canada. Listen.

Cheryl-Anne CarrSpeaking from the perspective of an aboriginal person, Cheryl-Anne Carr reflected on the courage, the spiritual beliefs and the Cherokee heritage of American war resister Joshua Key before leading the group in a Cherokee song. Listen.

Howard DavidsonVietnam war resister Howard Davidson described recent attempts to have war resisters recognized as refugees as groundbreaking. He spoke of American war resisters and Israeli refusniks, noting that they were doing what we all should be doing according to international law: refusing to participate in immoral wars. Listen.

Glenn MichalchukPeace Alliance Winnipeg chairperson Glenn Michalchuk spoke of the broad Canadian support for war resisters and opposition to the wars in Afghanistan. He noted that these issues had drawn a line — on one side are most Canadians — on the other “official circles in Canada: the media, the military and the government who have come out in blind support for the American war on terror.” Listen.

Joel KlassenChristian Peacemaker Team member Joel Klassen described a vigil that had been held at noon by the Mennonite Churches of Canada and the United States at their annual conference. About 150 people participated. He then led the group in reciting a prayer written by Christian Peacemakers activist James Loney, entitled Litany of Resistance. Listen.

We apologise for the poor quality of the audio, but if you want to read the prayer, go here.

12 comments for “July 10th Vigil at the Manitoba Legislature

  1. July 24, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    I don’t understand your site. The United States doesn’t have the draft.

  2. admin
    July 24, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    It is true that there no longer is a military draft in the US. However, war resisters (many of whom have experienced the war in Iraq firsthand) say they didn’t join the US military to commit war crimes. That is why they have left the military and sought refuge in Canada. They are not alone in regarding the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan illegal. Go to http://www.americansc.org.uk/Online/Forum/Afghanlegality.htm to read a legal opinion on the Afghanistan invasion and occupation. Regarding Iraq, consider that over one million Iraqis have died as a direct result of this invasion. Several million more are refugees. For a legal opinion on the American rape of Iraq, I recommend the Pinky Show episode called “The Iraq War: Legal or Illegal.”

  3. July 24, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Ah, so you’re talking about people that joined the army, took the money and quit when they didn’t agree with their bosses. That is dishonorable. It’s not up to a soldier to decide who is enemy is, and soldiers know that going in.

    Whether or not I support the war in Iraq, I can’t support those who quit and scramble off to Canada after promising to serve. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I believe the only honorable choice for them is to fight or spend the time in prison. Sorry.

  4. admin
    July 24, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    So, I take it that you would say the German military leaders who were convicted of war crimes after WW2 who argued that they were “only following orders” should have been acquitted by the Nuremberg Tribunal? Blindly following orders that violate international law was a crime then and it remains a crime.

  5. July 25, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Wow! Godwin’s Law in 2 posts.

    The answer is no. (If Bush is Hitler, why aren’t you a lampshade?) The whole German army wasn’t prosecuted; only the ones responsible for engineering the Shoah (the so-called Holocaust). Soldiers would be correct to refuse to take part in any Abu Ghraib type activities. If they are opposed to the prosecution in it’s entirety, the perfectly honorable choice is the spend the war in Leavenworth, not taking speaking engagements in Winnipeg and Vancouver.

    If you actually equate wholesale the American treatment of Iraqis today with the Nazi treatment of Jews and other Untermenschen in the 40’s, you’re just insane.

  6. PG
    July 25, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Many international law experts have judged the invasion of Iraq to be contrary to international law and a war crime. Those who willingly participate may well be war criminals, and those who planned the war most definitely are war criminals.

    Those who refuse to take part in that criminal war are honorable people who deserve our support. Condemning them to imprisonment for refusing to be criminals is cruel idiocy.

    The Nazis committed genocide against the Jews in Europe, but that was not the only war crime for which they were punished. Bush’s indefensible aggression against Iraq is just as vile as Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

    Does Bush equal Hitler? Well, so far Bush is lagging in the body count, but don’t count him out yet.

  7. July 28, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Yes, I’m sure you can find many experts that hate Bush. That’s neither here nor there. It’s not the job of soldiers to be questioning the authority of their superiors, just as no one expected or desired the rank and file WWII German soldier to refuse to obey. It was their leaders–and mostly political as opposed to military leaders–who were prosecuted. That said, a soldier can and should refuse to follow a specific order that he know to be immoral. The order to torture a prisoner would be an example. The order to get on a plane to Iraq, is not. It is not the province of the soldier to decide the entire operation is illegal with or without the help of pick-and-choose-your-international-expert.

    Your insistence that the only thing that separates Bush and Hitler is a body count marks you as insane, PG. Never has a war been prosecuted with such care to spare the innocent as has Iraq. If you said, Truman=Hitler and pointed to Nagasaki, or FDR=Hitler and pointed to Dresden, you might have had a point. But even then, you have to dig up Truman’s or FDR’s Mein Kampf. Bush is a good man; I won’t argue that he hasn’t made mistakes. But a very good case exists for the proposition that war in Iraq was inevitable and not immoral.


  8. PG
    July 28, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    I guess we should all be relieved to learn that “Never has a war been prosecuted with such care to spare the innocent as has Iraq.”

    The body count there has passed 1.2 million and there are an estimated 4 million refugees — this in a country with a smaller population than Canada. (Check out http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq/iraqdeaths.html)

    Imagine how bloody things might have gotten had the Americans been less careful.


  9. July 29, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Yes, of course, the numbers gleefully passed around the left leaning anti-war community.

    It is impossible to do an accurate survey, but your numbers represent highly partisan extrapolations of the most inflated highly partisan surveys. Even the dubious Lancet survey would only give you slightly more than half that number of violent deaths, since 2003. Furthermore, it has not been the American Military that has been responsible for the greater portion of the deaths but internecine violence and imported so-called insurgents from Syria and Iran.

    If every U.S. soldier up and fled to Canada this week, Iraqi deaths would skyrocket. Iran/Iraqi II would begin in earnest.

    Now remind me again which Iraqi city the U.S. has fire-bombed lately. Can’t think of one? Okay, how about which Iraqi market square or school bus a U.S. soldier (just following orders) has suicide bombed.

    We can both sigh.

  10. PG
    July 29, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Geeze Cricket, “firebombing” is so 20th century. Surely you haven’t forgotten about “Shock and Awe”?? Google it if you don’t remember what it looked like.

    The internecine warfare to which you attribute the majority of deaths is a direct result of the American invasion. The invasion was an act of aggression that violated the UN Charter and is widely recognized as a war crime.

    The invasion was based on lies, weapons of mass destruction being the biggest.

    Because of Bush’s lies and his illegal war, Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio introduced articles of impeachment earlier this year. Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul supports this resolution and probably thinks it is long overdue.

    Now, neither Kucinich or Paul can be described as “leftist.” So, please spare the red-baiting and open your mind to the possibility that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a war crime of massive proportions, and that the perpetrators deserve to be tried and punished accordingly.

    If you can get your head around that, perhaps you can see why American war resisters are brave, principled individuals who are sacrificing much to oppose this war.

  11. July 29, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Google Uday and Qusay, if you want to remember what sweetness and light was Iraq before 2003, back when Abu Ghraib was a Club Med.

    Kucinich: fairly well left, Ron Paul: mostly right but quite deftly defying categorization. The anti-war movement remains largely a left-wing phenom with which a few isolationist conservatives maintain an uneasy truce. The rabid Bush-hatred I see so prominently displayed is enough evidence of that. Ask your fellow Canadian anti-war activists how many voted for centrist Harper, last election.

    The invasion wasn’t based on lies. If you’re choosing WMD’s as your example the worst that could be said would be that it was an honest mistake Hussein did nothing to dispel. The coalition’s best intelligence and the entire civilized world believed there were WMDs in 2002. Hussein had in fact used WMDs against the Kurds (back in the sweetness and light era, remember?). There may well have been WMDs before the war, which then disappeared over very porous desert borders. On the other hand Hussein’s underlings may have been deceiving him as to their WMD capability. No one can prove it either way. Of course, there were other grounds for continuing the war that began with Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

    We can both say “Geeze” and “open your mind”, just like we can both sigh. And well we should for all of this is beside the point.

    The only real point is that soldiers who take an oath to serve their country, train and take a salary for several years do have the right and duty to refuse to follow a specific order if they judge it immoral. But they do not have the right to opt out of service on a war-by-war basis. If they insist they must, they could be called brave and principled by proudly spending the war in prison. They cannot be called brave and principled for slinking off to Canada. I do not welcome them here.

    Now I’m finished. You get the last word. Nice chatting with you, PG.

  12. PG
    July 30, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Well, Cricket. I have enjoyed the debate. Don’t be a stranger, eh.

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