CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin and fellow peace activist Ann Wright, a retired colonel and former US diplomat, were recently turned back when trying to enter Canada at Niagara Falls. They were on their way to a discussion of peace and security issues with the Toronto Stop the War Coalition.
According to Benjamin and Wright, they were questioned by Canadian customs officials about their anti-war efforts, including their arrests for nonviolent civil disobedience. "The border guard pulled up a [FBI] 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..." said Benjamin in a statement. "For this, the Canadians labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country."
Added Wright, who left her last US government job in protest of the Iraq invasion, "The FBI’s placing of peace activists on an international criminal database [known as the National Crime Information Center] is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies. The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country."
Four members of the Canadian Parliament voiced their outrage and vowed to change the policy. Meanwhile, Benjamin and Wright plan to request their FBI files and demand that their arrests for peaceful actions be expunged from international records. CODEPINK has also started a petition drive to protest the Canadian policy.
Media Resources: Common Dreams Progressive Newswire 10/3/07; CODEPINK press release 10/4/07; National Post (Canada) 10/5/07