A United States Army veteran, Rodney Watson, has been stuck living in a church in Downtown Eastside Vancouver for several years now, since facing his deportation order over refusing to participate in the Iraq war. Watson fled to Canada after he found out that his contract with the U.S. military was going to be unexpectedly extended and that he would be returning to a war zone in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Watson has called Vancouver his home for the past several years and he is hoping that the Liberal government will allow him to stay. The NDP has also urged the Canadian government to embrace war resisters rather than punish them.
Watson feels that he served his time overseas and it was during his time spent there, where he apparently saw something that prevented him from going back. He is a conscientious objector who believes that he did the right thing in refusing to go back and participate in more. Watson has said that one of the major factors for wanting to not return was the racial hatred that he witnessed against Iraqis during his first tour of duty.
A local Vancouver resident came forward not long ago, offering to post the funds for Watson as a guarantee should he be permitted to leave the church. Various NDP members in the province have also co-signed a letter that urges the federal government to allow Watson to reside in the country. Watson has a son with a Canadian woman and he says that he dreams of one day visiting with him outside of the church sanctuary. “I'm pleading with you... to do the right thing” says Watson to the Liberal government; “I want to be a positive member of society” he says.
Another individual who is in a similar situation to Watson, Jose Figuerora, has similarly been staying at a church in Langley's Walnut Grove for two years and he was recently granted asylum by the Liberal government. Watson is hoping that he too will see success with his case.
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