11 October 2007

Canada bans US peace protesters

Photo courtesy of CodePink

A week ago, Medea Benjamin and Colonel Ann Wright, both of CodePink, were denied entry to Canada. They were on their way from Niagara Falls to Toronto, in order to attend a peace activists' meeting, as guests of Canadian peace groups.

The Canadians based their denial of entry on the NCIC database, kept by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations. Benjamin and Wright were listed on that database, because of their civil disobedience actions and the resulting misdemeanor charges. This is a purely political move by the US side, to turn these courageous women into criminals for exercising their free speech rights. And for Canada to deny them entry, based solely on this, is tantamount to giving up its own sovereignty in border affairs.

Both women have been able to enter Canada freely as recently as August. In addition, they have entered other countries, including W's puppet states, without problems, as well.

The stakes are getting high for me too. Not only have I met Benjamin at the CodePink New Year's Eve party in San Francisco last year (where I debriefed her on her South Korean trip the previous month), but I've since turned her into a Facebook friend as well. I know her as a fearless, feisty woman who will fight for what's right. If that's considered criminal by the W regime, it's one thing. But for Canada, which has been sympathetic to the US peace movement, especially during the Vietnam War, to now consider her a criminal as well, solely based on the information provided by the W regime, it's a huge change. Perhaps the winds are blowing in a different direction, now that there is a Conservative government in power.

Benjamin and Wright have been invited to speak at the Canadian Parliament - if they can be allowed entry, that is. I hope to see that happen soon. Until then, all my Canadian vacation plans - including ones to Banff, Jasper, Toronto, and more - will be on hold.