Filmmaker Loach presses Canada to let US war resisters stay

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Acclaimed English director Ken Loach on Wednesday stood up for US war resisters fighting to stay in Canada, after screening his new Iraq war drama at the Toronto film festival.

"The illegal war in Iraq has been a tragedy for its victims and has shamed the governments of Britain and the United States," said Loach. "Those who resist it are heroes."

"Canadians are absolutely right to show solidarity with these brave and principled people," he said of the majority of Canadians that support their asylum bids.

Fifty US war resisters are fighting uphill legal battles to stay in this country, after the first of them was sent home and sentenced in August 2008 to 15 months in prison for desertion.

Canada's parliament is to soon consider a motion to grant asylum to anyone who refuses over "moral, political or religious objections" to participate in an armed conflict not sanctioned by the United Nations.

Loach said in a statement he supported the war resisters and endorsed the bill.

Loach was awarded a Golden Lion lifetime achievement award at the Venice film festival in 1994, and won Palme d'Or at Cannes for "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" in 2006.

His new film "Route Irish" chronicles an Iraq war veteran's mission to discover the truth about a friend's death on one of the deadliest highways in Baghdad.

© 2010 AFP

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