Joint Statement by former U.S. military personnel who came to Canada because of their conscientious objection to the 2003 Iraq war.
We are American war resisters. Many of us are combat veterans. All of us came to the conclusion that we could not in good conscience participate in the unjust and illegal war and occupation launched in March 2003 against Iraq.
Faced with jail time and forced redeployment in support of that disastrous war, we sought refuge in Canada.
The response from Canadians has been overwhelmingly welcoming and supportive, and has made it possible for us to settle here, raise families and build communities.
But the Conservative government has directly intervened to deny us access to a fair immigration process.
We now face imminent removal from Canada. Our removal will tear apart our families and punish us for simply doing what Canadians have already done – refusing to support and participate in an illegal and unjust war.
Former Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney publicly disparaged us, instructed immigration officers to ‘red-flag’ our cases, and labelled us ‘criminally inadmissible’ to Canada. This has prejudiced any chance of having our cases decided on their merits.
Yet Canada’s Parliament twice voted to allow us to stay. Canadian courts have acknowledged the disproportional punishment handed to US soldiers who have spoken out publicly in Canada. Those who have been forced back by the Conservative government have been court-martialed and received sentences from 12 to 24 months in jail.
It is no coincidence that so many of us are facing deportation at this very moment. It is difficult to manufacture consent for a new war when we are still here to tell the ground truth of the previous war. There is still time for Canadians to speak out – but time is running out.
Statement by Dean Walcott
I am about to be taken away from my family. My children are about to lose their father, my wife, her husband. Those that I help in my community are about to lose the assistance that they so desperately need. I can either leave my family willingly, and watch as they cry, and receive letters telling me how they are struggling in my absence; or, I can be placed in shackles, be dragged away from my home, from my loved ones, for punishment for my crime. So, what have I done that my family deserves to not have a husband, or a father? What heinous thing have I brought upon us all?
Simply put, I suggested that people have a right to live, and live well, without the fear of being killed for the crime of where they were born.
Would it surprise you, the reader, to know that I am not writing this from some third world country, or some dictatorship? Is it shocking to know that this abuse of human rights is occurring not on some distant battlefield?
It is, in fact, coming from somewhere that prides itself on humanitarian rights; Canada.
I left America, and the Marines, in 2006, in opposition to the war of aggression against the Iraqi people; people who did nothing wrong to me, to you, to anyone. Their lives were placed in danger due to the gross negligence of the American government. During my time in, I worked in a hospital where I saw, firsthand, a full accounting of human ugliness and the crimes people are capable of. I saw not only the bodies of our soldiers, airmen, seamen, and Marines; I saw the Iraqi injured, dying and dead.
Look at your child, your loved one. Imagine them being burnt alive, screaming, and barely recognizable. Imagine that to actually be a baby, not even a year old. That’s the kind of thing I saw.
Now, answer this; what could that family have done to earn that pain? That family, that just wanted their child to grow up, go to school, and fall in love. What did they do to deserve that?
So, because I have stated that this isn’t acceptable, I am to be removed from my family, placed in jail, and labelled a criminal, a coward, a whistleblower, and never be allowed to see my loved ones ever again.
If I have blown the whistle, sounded the call, it was only because the circumstances demanded it, because silence breeds acceptance. Seeing as I was never to deploy again, the cowardice argument holds zero weight and has no relevance to me.
Am I a criminal? I don’t think so. Criminals break laws. I have broken no laws here, and have upheld my belief that killing for the sake of it is just wrong by any standard. I have maintained, in fine Canadian tradition, that people have a right to life, liberty, security of the person.
I have pursued, with all my energy, the idea that people everywhere, no matter their background, no matter their sex, age, abilities, country of birth, or religion, have a right to live, a right to their family.
I am shocked and dismayed beyond belief to find that these values are not upheld as important by your government.
Statement by Joshua Key
My name is Joshua Key. I was born and raised, a proud American, on my grandfather’s 40 acre farm outside of Guthrie, Oklahoma. By the time I was 23 I was married with 3 young sons. I joined the U.S. army and shipped off to Iraq in 2003. Pleased with my choice and honoured by friends and family, I faced an unknown desert and unknown enemy.
My job was to raid homes and patrol streets, and while carrying out my duties I witnessed and participated in many senseless acts of violence and aggression against Iraqi civilians. One such incident included a night on the banks of the Euphrates river when my unit was called to the scene of a firefight. When we arrived and I approached I saw soldiers, my fellow American soldiers, kicking around decapitated heads like soccer balls. I never once in my time at war saw the face of the unknown enemies, just the faces of my brothers in arms change, for the worse.
While on leave in 2004, I along with my wife and then 4 children, made my escape to Canada.
After over 9 years in yet another foreign land, I am still fighting a war. A war against my post-traumatic stress disorder, a conflict against my contract with the military, and battle with the Canadian government. In the years since the now all too familiar desert, I lost the things that I held most dear. I lost my home, I will never again see an Oklahoma sunset or touch the red dirt. I lost my blinded belief in an all knowing and all powerful America. Worst of all, I lost my first wife and 4 beautiful children.
Through all the loss, I have gained. I have gained a re-birth and re-education. I have gained countless friends and an expanded family, including a Canadian wife and 3, soon to be 4, more fantastic children. I have also gained a new home. But, this cloud is not lined with silver, unless the Harper Government stops the deportations of American soldiers seeking sanctuary in Canada – a Canada that proudly declared that it should be “a haven from militarism”.
If I, or any of the other brave men who fought for their country, are deported from Canada we face a fate left in the hands of the U.S. military. An institution we learned, from cruel experience, that we should not trust. All I or any other of my new brothers in arms want is to stay in Canada. We want to live as Canadians. We want peace.