Canadian Immigration Blinks on Use of FBI Database for US Peace Activists
On June 1, U.S. peace activist Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Codepink women for Peace and Global Exchange, Diane Wilson, an environmental, jail reform and peace activist and I, a retired US Army Reserves Colonel and diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, attempted to enter Canada to attend a conference in Vancouver, Canada on women war resisters.
Diane Wilson, mother of five and grandmother of five, author of “An Unreasonable Woman,” which tells about her fight against the petro-chemical companies of the South Texas coast that polluted the bay where she was a shrimper, had not been to Canada since 1970 when she went AWOL from the US Army in opposition to the Vietnam war. She stayed in
I had been denied entry to
We were protesting President Bush’s policies of the war in Iraq (a war that successive Canadian governments have refused to join), extraordinary rendition and torture (Canadian citizen Maher Arar was kidnapped by US government officials from JFK airport and flown to Syria where he was tortured for 9 months and to whom Canada paid $10 million for Canadian complicity in his kidnapping), illegal prisons and illegal eavesdropping, among many other crimes.
These arrests now appear on the FBI’s National Crime Information Database, a data base that was created for recording serious felonies, parole violations, gang related crimes, sex offenders. Misdemeanor violations for protest political policies are not listed as offenses to be recorded on the NCIC.
Canadian immigration has been using the NCIC data base to determine eligibility to enter
Many Canadian parliamentarians have been very concerned about their immigration service using the FBI’s politically tainted data base and invited Medea and myself in October, 2007 to attend a parliamentary conference to discuss the database. Canadian Immigration at the
On June 1, Canadian parliamentarian Libby Davies, drove to the
During three hours at the border, immigration officers made phone calls to various offices. At the end of the process, Medea was given a 24 hour visitors permit and I received an exception to my earlier exclusion order, apparently from a high official in the Ministry of Immigration.
The next day, June 2, Veterans for Peace (VFP) national president Elliot Adams and VFP member Will Cover, drove from
The border crossing by two groups of high profile anti-war activists with arrest records in a two day period, both dealing with the issue of
We hope so, as we pose no threat to Canadian security and indeed our actions in the
The Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (CLMG) has set up an action-research clearinghouse on border controls and watch lists to investigate and document cases related to the creation of no-fly lists and other watch lists that impact on civil liberties, right to privacy and mobility rights for all travelers, including peace activists.
CLMG would like to hear from anyone who has had trouble entering
Please contact CLMG if you have had travel problems into
Ann Wright is a 29 year