Winnipeggers to rally against the deportation of U.S. war resister Jeremy Hinzman, Sept. 13

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Rally: Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008, 1:00 PM at Memorial Park (Memorial Blvd. and Broadway Avenue); Speakers: Phil McDowell, Howard Davidson, Don Marks

Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008, 1:30 PM at Broadway Disciples United Church,
396 Broadway Avenue; Speaker: Phil McDowell, American war resister

Winnipeggers will demonstrate against the planned deportation of war resister Jeremy Hinzman on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008, at 1:00 pm in Memorial Park (corner of Broadway Ave. and Memorial Blvd). Speakers at the rally will include Phil McDowell, an American Iraq war resister, Howard Davidson, a Vietnam war resister, and Don Marks, an anti-Vietnam war activist.

The rally is part of a cross-country effort to convince Prime Minister Harper and Immigration Minister Finley to stop the deportation of American war resisters, including that of Jeremy Hinzman, scheduled for Sept. 23. Actions are planned for 18 Canadian cities. More information on these events is available from the War Resisters Support Campaign.

Jeremy Hinzman (left) moved to Canada in early 2004 to avoid military service in what he believes is an unjust, unlawful war. His application for refugee status was rejected and he is scheduled to leave the country on September 23. Organizers fear Hinzman will face a fate similar to that of war resister Robin Long who was deported from Canada earlier this year and subsequently court-martialed and sentenced to 15 months in prison.

“If deported, Jeremy Hinzman faces imprisonment for opposition to a war that most Canadians and Americans oppose,” says Michael Welch, a spokesperson for Saturday’s rally. “We are calling on Prime Minister Harper to honour the wishes of Parliament and of Canadians and allow war resisters to remain in Canada.”

Welch noted that in June, Parliament passed a motion calling on the government to grant permanent resident status to US war resisters; a subsequent poll by Angus Reid indicated that 64 per cent of Canadians believe war resisters should be permitted to stay in Canada. Polls show that 82 percent of Canadians and 65 percent of Americans oppose the war in Iraq.

Phil McDowell is one of the speakers who will address Saturday’s gathering in Winnipeg. He, like Hinzman, is an American soldier who came to see the war as immoral and fled to Canada to avoid military service in Iraq. In his speech and a follow-up forum on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Broadway Disciples United Church he intends to describe his own experiences in Iraq and why he chose to desert.

“We were lied to about this war.” McDowell explains. “Canada was right not to participate.”

The rally is sponsored by Peace Alliance Winnipeg, Project Peacemakers and Citizens Concerned about Deep Integration.

Council of Canadians backs the National Day of Action

In related news, Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of The Council of Canadians, has appealed to Canadians to join in the National Day of Action.

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