[haw-info] Repression at the US-Canada border

Jim O'Brien jimobrien48 at gmail.com
Tue Oct 9 06:02:41 PDT 2007

The article below describes an October 3 incident in which two well-known US
anti-war activists, Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright, were denied entry into
Canada.  We are forwarding it partly because of the importance of the
civil-liberties issues involved and also because Ann Wright, a military
veteran and long-time US diplomat who resigned in protest of the Iraq
invasion, has connections with our organization.  She is on the Historians
Against the War speakers list and attended the HAW national conference at
the University of Texas in 2006.

The following story (found at
) is the most extensive of several articles that have appeared on the web in
recent days.

A similar episode last month involved Alison Bodine, a US citizen who is
active in the anti-war movement at the University of British Columbia and in
the Vancouver community.  A defense committee has been formed and is asking
for support; details are at

If anyone else has experienced (or has seen documented) other recent
instances of anti-war activists being harassed at the US-Canada border,
please let us know.

Jim O'Brien
for Historians Against the War

*October 7, 2007*

*FBI Puts Antiwar Protesters on Criminal Database; Canada Uses It To Ban
Protesters From Entry*

*By Rob Kall*
Two well-respected US peace activists, CODEPINK and Global Exchange
cofounder Medea Benjamin and retired Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright, were
denied entry into Canada On October third. The two women were headed to
Toronto to discuss peace and security issues at the invitation of the
Toronto Stop the War Coalition. At the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge they
were detained, questioned and denied entry.

"In my case, 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, a
group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition signed by 152,000 women
around the world," says Benjamin. "For this, the Canadians labeled me a
criminal and refused to allow me in the country."

"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 certainly not
accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country." Both
Wright and Benjamin plan to request their files from the FBI through the
Freedom of Information Act and demand that arrests for peaceful, non-violent
actions be expunged from international records. "It's outrageous that Canada
is turning away peacemakers protesting a war that does not have the support
of either US or Canadian citizens," says Benjamin.

"In the past, Canada has always welcomed peace activists with open arms.
This new policy, obviously a creature of the Bush administration, is
shocking and we in the US and Canada must insist that it be overturned. Four
members of the Canadian Parliament--Peggy Nash, Libby Davies, Paul Dewar and
Peter Julian-- expressed outrage that the peace activists were barred from
Canada and vow to change this policy.

Ann Wright told OpEdNews that this was the second time the two Code Pink
activists had been turned away from the border, the first event ocurring on
August 19th.

Wright explained, "We decided to go to Canadian border to push the envelope
to see if the Canadian Gov would not let us into Canada again until we had
been "criminally rehabilitated."

To be criminally rehabilitated, they would have to do a huge amount of
paperwork and state that they were no longer going to commit the "crimes"
they were convicted of.

Wright told OpEdNews "We were told (by the canadian border agents) if we
tried to enter Canada again, we would be officially deported from the
country, which is "big trouble. 'We've warned you not to come back until we
are criminally rehabilitated.'

Wright asserted, "We will never be criminally rehabilitated since we intend
to continue to engage in non-violent peaceful protest of Bush administration
policies, particular the war on Iraq and we intend to peacefully and
nonviolently protest all of these until they end. They can lead to arrests
for civil disobedience, like refusing to move from the fence in front of the
whitehouse or standing up and speaking at congressional hearings."

Wright explained that the Canadians, by their own law, do not allow people
in who have been convicted of various kinds of offenses.

If, when you are asked by a Canadian immigration officer if you have been
arrested, they check the FBI database and that's how they found we were

Wright added, "The fact that the FBI has put us on this list. The
Information Center Computerized Index is a form of political
intimidation. The list is supposed to be for felony and serious misdemeanor

"We don't qualify-- it's for sex offenders, foreign fugitives, gang violence
and terrorist organizations, people who are on parole, a list of eight
categories all together.

"It is very disturbing. We've asked our congressional representatives to
investigate this."

According to Wright, there was almost no coverage of this in the US, except
for an AP release. In Canada, Toronto's Globe and Mail and several other
newspapers and three Canadian TV stations covered it.
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