Barred from Canada: US Peace Activists Invited to Address Canadian Parliament
October 24th, 2007
Testing the first country to use U.S. database barring peaceful protesters
US peace activists Medea Benjamin and Col. Ann Wright, barred from entering Canada on October 3rd because of their records as peaceful protesters, will again travel to Canada—this time at the invitation of Members of Parliament to participate in a Parliamentary panel on Thursday October 25th. In the process they will test the Canadian government's policy of being the first country to use the corrupted FBI criminal database that now includes minor misdemeanors such as convictions for non-violence civil disobedience. The women will be flying from Washington, D.C. to Ottowa Thursday morning to speak at an afternoon panel entitled "Peacebuilders without Borders: Challenging the Post 9/11 Canada-US Security Agenda."
There were press conferences held outside of Canadian Consulates in New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago on Tuesday to ask the Canadian government to reverse its policy of barring peaceful protesters and to turn in 20,000 signatures from outraged US and Canadian citizens.Please visit www.codepinkalert.org/Canada or contact Dana Balicki, CODEPINK Media Coordinator, at (202)422-8624 or Dana@codepinkalert.org for more info.
"It is outrageous that the FBI is placing peace activists on an international criminal database--a blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies. But the Canadian Border Service should not be using this FBI database as its Bible and we are prepared to challenge these policies," said Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK cofounder.
Ms. Benjamin and Colonel Wright, invited to speak at a peace conference in Toronto on October 3, were both turned back at the Canadian border at Niagara Falls. The women were questioned about their participation in anti-war efforts and informed by Canadian Immigration that they had an access to an FBI file which indicated they had been arrested and convicted in acts of non-violent civil disobedience. This FBI National Crime Information Center database (NCIC) was created to assist U.S. law enforcement agencies in finding fugitives, convicted sex offenders, missing persons, and members of terrorist organizations and violent gangs. The database now contains convictions for minor offenses related to non-violent protest. Both women were told to apply for "criminal rehabilitation" which is a cumbersome and costly process with a waiting period of 5 years after their last conviction. Instead, together with supportive Parliamentarians, they are challenging the policy with their trip and panel on the 25th.
Interviews available upon request.