US Peace Activists Challenge Canadian Border Guards
Test whether they will be denied entry into Canada
peace activists Medea Benjamin and Col. Ann Wright, both of whom were harassed at the
border in August, will travel to the Canadian border crossing near
Buffalo to attend a conference sponsored by a Canadian peace coalition
in Toronto. In the process they will test whether the Canadian
government has a policy of denying entry to peaceful activists.
WHEN: Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 1pm
WHERE: NYCLU office, 712 Main St,. Buffalo, New York and afterwards at the Canadian-US border
WHO: Medea Benjamin, Cofounder of CODEPINK Women for Peace and
Global Exchange and Ann Wright, Retired US Army Colonel and US diplomat
who resigned in opposition to the war on Iraq.
Ms. Benjamin and Colonel Wright, invited to speak at a peace conference
in Toronto on October 3, were both harassed at the Canadian border in
August 2007. As a result of arrests at peaceful protests against the
Iraq war, their names appeared on a criminal list (National Crime
Information Center database) provided to the Canadian government by the
FBI. Both were eventually granted entry (Wright had to get a $200
temporary permit), but were told that in the future they must apply for
"criminal rehabilitation." This cumbersome process includes the
provision of court record of convictions, court transcripts and the
arresting officer's report, official proof of termination of the
sentence, written travel permission from the court and probation
officer; three statements of evidence of rehabilitation, a police
certificate issued by the FBI, and a $200 processing fee.
"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."
"It's outrageous for Canadian border guards to harass
peacemakers for protesting a criminal, illegal war," says Benjamin. "No
other country in the world is doing this. It looks like we are seeing
the ominous results of the newly signed US-Canada Partnership for
Prosperity and Security."
Four members of the Canadian Parliament--Peggy Nash, Libby
Davies, Paul Dewar and Peter Julian--have expressed concern that
Canada's immigration policies now seem to be driven by the Bush
administration. They are closely watching how the two well-respected US
activists will be treated at the border on Wednesday.