Support war resister Rodney Watson

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Iraq war deserter takes sanctuary in Vancouver church

By John Bermingham, Vancouver Province, October 18, 2009

VANCOUVER,  BC -- OCTOBER 19, 2009 --  Rodney Watson speaks to the media  in   Vancouver  on October 19, 2009.  He is a U.S. war resister seeking asylum at the First United Church. (Wayne Leidenfrost/ The Province)

Rodney Watson speaks to the media  in   Vancouver  on October 19, 2009.  He is a U.S. war resister seeking asylum at the First United Church. Photo: Wayne Leidenfrost/ The Province.

VANCOUVER — U.S. army deserter Rodney Watson has become the first fugitive from service in Iraq to enter church sanctuary in Canada.

Monday morning, the 31-year-old told reporters he has been living in refuge at the First United Church in Vancouver since Sept. 18.

“I don’t believe it will be just for me to be deported,” said Watson, flanked by church ministers and supporters. Watson lost his refugee claim on Sept. 11, and was expecting to be deported back to the U.S., where he faces jail for refusing to do a second tour of duty in Iraq.

The main reason Watson wants to stay is to be with his 10-month-old son and fiancee, who live in Vancouver. Watson said his son is currently in foster care, but wouldn’t say why. He said he plans to get married and settle in B.C.

Article continues . . .

Support Rodney Watson

The War Resisters Support Campaign has stated

. . . through two majority votes, Parliament has called on the Government of Canada to stop the deportation of these war resisters. This reflects the majority view in this country as expressed in recent opinion polls. Yet the Canadian government has chosen to ignore both Parliament’s will, and the will of Canadians.

It would be unconscionable to deport Rodney Watson, separating him from his Canadian fiancée and son, after Canadians and their political representatives have spoken so clearly. The punishment faced by resisters who have already been forced back to the US by the Conservative government has been exceptionally harsh because they spoke out against the war – a war that Canada chose not to participate in. This is the fate that certainly awaits Rodney if he is forced back to the US against his will.

We urge all Canadians who agree with Rodney’s decision not to participate in the Iraq War, to support the stand he and the First United Church have taken. Write, email, phone or personally contact your Member of Parliament and urge them to call on the Government of Canada to respect the will of Parliament and lift the threat of deportation against Rodney Watson.

Urge Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to halt all efforts to deport Rodney Watson and all the other resisters facing persecution if forced back into the United States.

You can locate your MP here. Tell your MP support Bill C-440.

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