US Peace Activists, Previously Barred from Canada, Try to Re-Enter This Weekend
May 30th, 2008
US Peace Activists Medea Benjamin and Col. Ann Wright, Previously Barred from Canada, Try to Re-Enter to Speak at Vancouver Peace Conference
Member of Parliament Libby Davies Accompanies Activists at Pacific Highway Crossing
When: Sunday, June 1, 10am, meet in Blaine, WA to cross into Canada
~10:30am border crossing
~1pm, press conference, SFU Harbour Centre: 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
(If turned away, activists will hold press conference/protest outside Canadian Consulate, 600 Stewart St, Seattle on Monday, June 2, noon)
Two well-respected US peace activists, CODEPINK and Global Exchange cofounder Medea Benjamin and retired Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright, are scheduled to speak at the "Our Way Home" Vancouver Peace Conference honoring US women war resisters who came to Canada during the Vietnam War and the war resisters of today.
In October 2007 the two women, invited by the Toronto Stop the War Coalition, were detained, questioned and denied entry at the border crossing outside Buffalo. The women were denied entry because their names appeared on an FBI criminal database due to misdemeanor convictions for non-violent anti-war protests.
"The border guard pulled up a file showing that I had been arrested at the US Mission to the UN where, on International Women's Day 2005, a group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition signed by 152,000 women around the world," says CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin. "For this, the Canadians labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country. We hope they will use more common sense this time and allow us to meet with our Canadian colleagues."
"The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies," says Colonel Wright, who was also Deputy US Ambassador in four countries. "The Canadian government should not NCIC as a basis for denying entry to Canada."
"I want to make sure that U.S. peace activists who have been invited to speak in our city are able to come into Canada without any problems," says Parliamentary member Libby Davies who will be crossing with the women.
The Peace Conference honoring resisters comes at critical time when the first Iraq war resister, Corey Glass, lost his bid to stay in Canada and faces deportation. The House of Commons will be voting next week on a measure to support war resisters. "Canada has a noble history of supporting war resisters and peacemakers," says Medea Benjamin. "We hope it will live up that legacy."
Interviews available on request.