By Hannah Brock
War Resisters International are urging people to take action to support Kimberly Rivera, who served with the US Army in Iraq before developing a conscientious objection, and who was taken into military custody in late September.
Having joined the army voluntarily, Kimberly later came to believe that the war in Iraq was incompatible with the teachings of the Bible, and went absent without leave between deployments in 2007. She travelled to Canada with her husband and children, and claimed refugee status. In January 2009 this was rejected, and she was ordered to leave the country or face deportation. She appealed this decision, but on Monday 16 September a Canadian Federal Court judge denied her request for a stay of removal, finding the possibility of her arrest and detention in the U.S. to be only “speculative”.
Kimberley presented herself at the border between Gananoque in Ontario and Fort Drum in New York, according to the War Resisters Support Campaign.
She is now being held at Fort Carson, Colorado, awaiting information on her case. She is likely to face a court martial and be jailed for between two to five years.
War Resisters’ International, an international antimilitarist network, is calling for the immediate release of Kimberly Rivera.
You can write a letter of protest to the American authorities here.
If you would also like to write to Kimberly, sending a letter or card of support, you can reach her at:
Mrs. Kimberly Rivera
c/o All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church
730 North Tejon Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903 USA
The right to refuse to perform military service for reasons of conscience is part of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as recognised in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States of America is a state party.
This includes those who have joined the armed forces voluntarily, since the freedom to change one’s religion or belief is recognised in Article 18 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This was also specified in the Human Rights Committee General Comment 22, paragraph 5.