Despite two motions to let Iraq War Resisters stay in
that were adopted by the House of Commons
on June 3, 2008
and March 30, 2009
, the Conservative minority government
ordered Mr. Watson to leave
on September 11, 2009. Mr. Watson appealed to the
for sanctuary, and given the injustice of the Canadian government’s decision to
send Mr. Watson to prison in
the church accepted his request.
“This year of Sanctuary has been a very important pause in the unfolding
application of the law, allowing critical space for upholding justice rather
than simple legal process,” said Rev. Ric Matthews of
“It is our deep hope that Bill C-440, the ongoing protests of those seeking
justice for war resisters, and the support of the citizens of
will soon allow Rodney – and other war
resisters – to be welcomed fully and freely into
“To embrace those resisting war is part of out heritage, the will of the
majority in Parliament and the desire of the majority of Canadians. The time in
sanctuary will be well worth it if it prevents Rodney from being summarily
deported and finally allows him to be given a fair opportunity to be accepted
into this country,” said Rev. Matthews.
Mr. Watson is still awaiting a decision on his application to stay in
humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
fter completing one tour of duty in
Mr. Watson was informed that the U.S. Army was unilaterally extending his
contract in order to send him back to
. While serving in
Watson saw the true nature of the illegal occupation and refused to return.
“I did not return to
because it is a war of aggression based on lies about weapons of mass
destruction. I witnessed
soldiers beating Iraqi civilians and using racist terms,” said Rodney Watson.
Rather than go to prison in the
while the criminals who started the war remained free, he came to
With the assistance of the War resisters Support Campaign, Mr. Watson appealed
for refugee status on the grounds that he faced persecution in
for his refusal to take part in an
illegal occupation that involved war crimes against the people of
Since the arrival of the first U.S. Iraq War resister Jeremy Hinzman
in 2004, Canadians have opened their homes
and hearts to them.
“Canadians have reacted to the arrival of War Resisters with logic and
compassion, citing our history of being a place of political refuge over many
generations, and have been shocked at the government’s interference in the
refuge process and its refusal to honour the will of Parliament,” said Sarah
Bjorknas, spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign in Vancouver.
“The case of Rodney Watson living in sanctuary has become a test of national
honour for many who believe that
’s strength is in its
collective compassion,” said Bjorknas.
Mr. Watson is eagerly awaiting the upcoming House of Commons vote on Bill C-440
that will amend the Immigration and Refugee
Protection Act to allow U.S. Iraq War resisters to apply for permanent resident
The second hour of Second Reading debate on Bill C-440 is scheduled for Monday,
September 27 with a vote expected to take place on Wednesday, September 29.
The war in
with over 50,000
soldiers still occupying the country. Iraqi civilians and American soldiers
are still being injured and killed in
A public opinion poll
conducted by Angus Reid Strategies
shortly after Parliament’s first vote found that 64 per cent of Canadians want
the Government of Canada stop the deportations and grant permanent resident
status to Iraq War resisters.
- 30 -