Via Feminist Peace Network – so much for the apparently antiquated notion that Canada is a ‘free society’ (which is, like, so September 10th):
Subject: URGENT Appeal for Support: US Anti-war Activist Arrested at Canadian Border!
Sent: 24 Sep ‘07 13:53
The Alison Bodine Defense Committee is appealing to all progressive groups and organizations who fight for a better world to support the campaign to defend Alison Bodine, a US citizen who is being targeted by Canadian Border Services Agency for being an anti-war and social justice activist.
Originally from Broomfield, Colorado, Alison is a central organizer with Vancouver, Canada antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War & Occupation
(MAWO), for three years was the president of the University of British Columbia’s Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq and Internationally (CAWOPI), a long-time executive committee member of the UBC Social Justice Center, is a prominent activist in solidarity with Cuba and the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba, and a supporter of immigrant and refugee rights in Canada and the US.
Near midnight on Thursday September 13, 2007, Alison was arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) when she attempted to legally cross the border at Peace Arch border crossing, travelling from Canada into the United States. Three days prior, Alison was harassed by CBSA officials while traveling from the US into Canada. The ordeal began after border officials searched her vehicle and identified her as a political organizer after they found various political materials and progressive newspapers in her car.
As an international student at the University of British Columbia who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Physics in June 2007, Alison has traveled between the US and Canada on dozens of occasions, and had never been denied entrance to Canada or asked to return to the US. As she was returning to the US on Thursday September 13th, Alison returned to claim items confiscated earlier by the CBSA. Upon presenting her receipt to claim her materials, she was handcuffed and told she was under arrest, and that a warrant for her arrest had been issued across Canada. She was then taken into detention. This unjust and illegal imprisonment was met with a huge protest and organizing drive by the newly-formed Committee to Free Alison Bodine. Friday afternoon, on only 5 hours notice, 80 people came together at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Offices in Vancouver, demanding the immediate release of Alison Bodine. Media was also quick to pick up this important case, which was covered locally and nationally by newspapers, TV and radio.
Following all of this, Alison’s status took a major turn. Officials constantly reminded her all day that there was no way she would be released from detention before Monday. However, at 8:00pm on Friday, Alison was given notice by immigration officials that she would be released from custody immediately until her Admissibility Hearing on Monday Sept 17th – a major victory in the campaign for her freedom. However Alison’s ordeal is not yet over. In the early afternoon of September 17th, Alison learned from a CBC reporter that the CBSA had cancelled her Admissibility Hearing scheduled for 2pm that day. Alison herself was never officially notified by CBSA.
At 1:30pm Monday September 17th, more than 50 supporters rallied outside the downtown Citizenship & Immigration Canada offices, especially because of the cancelled hearing, to demand that all charges against Alison be dropped immediately. The CBSA postponement of Alison’s hearing is a maneuver to delay because they know they won’t be able to prove the charges they have made up so far. It also shows they have decided to escalate this case to a more political level by finding some different charges to bring because they know right now their case cannot win in a hearing. Being without status in Canada, Alison’s situation is always uncertain, and she can still be arrested at anytime. All progressive, humanity loving people must unite around this case. We must understand that this is not just an attack on Alison, this is an attack on
all of us. This is an attack on the basic democratic and human rights of all people, especially social justice activists, immigrants, refugees and all non-status people and non-residents in Canada. The illegal and unjust arrest and detention of Alison Bodine means the Government of Canada and its agencies want to continue and escalate the silencing of free speech and political expression and continue their terrorizing of people who oppose their policies at home and abroad and the new era of war and occupation. They are also testing and evaluating our response to defend ourselves against their attacks against us. The degree, seriousness, effectiveness and consistency of our defence impact their decision on how to further their repressive measures.
For this reason, we are appealing to you to join us in this struggle by endorsing this emergency campaign and by writing a letter of support demanding that the CBSA drop all charges against Alison. Please send this appeal to your email lists and friends. We must show the Government of Canada and their agency, the CBSA, that they cannot get away with trying to intimidate activists. We have attached a template support letter, as an example. Letters of support should be sent to:
The CBSA might think that by delaying the Admissibility hearing this campaign will lose steam and the pressure against them will lessen. On the contrary, this campaign is only just beginning. People all across Canada and the world know about this case of political harassment and this will only gain momentum from here. This is a political case; Alison has done nothing wrong or illegal. Alison, along with supporters in Vancouver and across the country will keep up the demand that the CBSA must drop all charges against her and restore her full rights to travel between the US and Canada. For now, they have re-scheduled her Admissibility hearing for Friday, September 28th at 9am. In the time between now and then we will not back down, we will not slow down and we will continue fighting!
Our fight is not over. Your support is essential to get all charges against Alison dropped!
WE WILL WIN!
Alison Bodine Defense Committee (ABDC)
Sample support letter:
To: Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
Alison Bodine is a US citizen, is a central organizer with Vancouver antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), for three years was the president of the University of British Columbia’s Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq and Internationally (CAWOPI) and is a long-time executive committee member of the UBC Social Justice Center. She is also a prominent activist in solidarity with Cuba, and is a supporter of immigrant and refugee rights in Canada in the US.
Near midnight, Thursday September 13, 2007 Alison Bodine was unjustly arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency and detained by the RCMP when she went voluntarily to the US-Canada border to pick up her belongings. Alison has not done anything illegal, and has crossed the border many times with no incident. It was not until her belonging were searched and antiwar literature found that the charges were laid.
Alison’s arrest and all charges against her are an attack on the democratic rights of individuals to organize and express their political views. This is an attack on the right to free speech, and an attack on immigrants, refugees, people without status and non-residents of Canada. This is clearly a politically motivated case against Alison Bodine.
I am demanding that the Canada Border Services Agency drop any and all charges against Alison Bodine, return to her any and all items seized by the CBSA, and reinstate her right to freely travel between the US and Canada.
(Affiliations, for identification purposes)
Again, send your letters of support to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Selected support letters can be read/downloaded here. Also, download and print out this petition (PDF) calling for all charges against Alison Bodine to be dropped. Signed petitions can be faxed to: 604-322-1763
Related: Round-up of mainstream media coverage courtesy MAWO; Verbena-19 links to a Co-Op Radio interview with Ms Bodin.
Update 09.25: thanks to 5th Estate @ The Newshoggers (shout outs to Cernig as well, an early supporter of bastard.logic) for featuring this post in an InstaHoglets round-up. Welcome once again, Newshoggers – your letters of support and participation are greatly appreciated.
Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers