U.S. peace activists barred from entry into Canada
Two American peace activists are calling for changes to Canada's border policies after they were denied entry because they had been arrested for taking part in anti-war events in the U.S.
Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright say they were barred entry at the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Bridge on Wednesday after a border guard pulled up an FBI file showing they had been arrested during anti-war demonstrations in the United States.
The women say they have been placed on an FBI criminal database.
They had visited Canada in August and were told they would have to apply for criminal rehabilitation and pay $200 if they wanted to visit again.
On Wednesday, as they walked across a bridge to Canada, they were denied entry.
Benjamin said she considers it "outrageous" and "dangerous" that Canada is using a beefed up FBI database as a criterion for judging who enters the country.
"If Canada starts to do this and keeps out people like us, maybe other countries will start to do it as well," said Benjamin, speaking at the Canadian Embassy in Washington Thursday.
Wright, a retired U.S. Colonel, said she doesn't understand the policy, since the womenare permitted to travel within their own country.
"Our own country doesn't think we are horrible people," Wright said. "We may have been convicted of a peaceful non-violent incident, we can still travel in our own country. Why are you, the Canadian government, applying greater restrictions on us than even our own government does?"
Wright and Benjamin plan to request their files from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act and demand that arrests for peaceful, non-violent actions be expunged from international records.