Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kim Rivera has 24 hours

kim rivera

Iraq War veteran and war resister Kimberly Rivera has been ordered to leave Canada no later than Thursday, September 20th or face deportation.  That's one day away.  The mother of four, Kim and her family have made their home in Canada since 2007.   Luke Stewart observes in his letter to the editor of The Record, "It was guarding the front gate of a forward operating base in Baghdad where Rivera’s conscience grew with every fatal day. She decided she could no longer participate in the war that Kofi Annan, then the UN Secretary General, said in 2004 was illegal under the United Nations Charter."  Leah Bolger and Gerry Condon of Veterans For Peace note in their open letter, "According to the UN Handbook on Refugees, soldiers who refuse to fight in wars that are widely condemned by the international community should be considered as refugees. Unfortunately, the Immigration and Refugee Board in Canada has yet to grant asylum to a single person who refused to kill in the war against Iraq, a war that has most certainly been condemned by peoples and nations around the globe."

The Toronto Post posts an e-mail from Kim where she thanks all the people who've shown support and asks that people call Immigration Minister Jason Kenney:

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney can stop our deportation. That's why we're asking you to please call him today and tell him you want my family and I to be allowed to stay in Canada together.
Call 1-866-599-4999 and asked to be transferred to Minister Kenney's Office.
For what to say when you call check our our Facebook event page. Then post a comment on that same page and tell us what they said.

Krystalline Kraus (Rabble) reports, "According to Michelle Robidoux, a spokesperson for the War Resisters Support Campaign (WRSC). '(Kim) faces a court martial and jail sentence, which, based on what other people have gotten, is a harsh jail sentence,' Robidoux said. 'She will be separated from her family. Her husband suffers from a disability and he’s going to have four kids on his hands'."

Yves Engler ( reports on Kim and notes what she saw in Iraq:

While Rivera expected to spend her time unloading equipment at a Colorado base she soon found herself guarding a foreign operating base in Iraq. It was from this vantage point that she became disillusioned with the war. Riviera was troubled by a two-year-old Iraqi girl who came to the base with her family to claim compensation after a bombing by U.S. forces. “She was just petrified”, Rivera explained. “She was crying, but there was no sound, just tears flowing out of her eyes. She was shaking. I have no idea what had happened in her little life. All I know is I wasn’t seeing her: I was seeing my own little girl. I could imagine my daughter being one of those kids throwing rocks at soldiers, because maybe someone she loved had been killed. That Iraqi girl haunts my soul.’”Rivera had begun to empathize with the millions of Iraqis displaced by the war or whose families lost a loved one. On leave in the U.S. a few months later, Rivera was told she would be re-deployed overseas. Not wanting to participate in a war she now opposed and fearing that her young children might grow up without a mother, she fled north. In February 2007 Rivera and her family applied for refugee status in this country.

As of right now, 19,475 people have signed the War Resisters Support Campaign's petition to let Kim and her family stay in Canada.  This is about the fate of a family.  Kim, her husband Mario Rivera, their children: 10-year-old Christian, 8-year-old Rebecca, 4-year-old Katie Marie and 18-month-old Gabriel.  The deportation will harm a family, uproot it, threaten the family with the loss of a mother for an unspecified amount of time and take children who know Canada as their home -- Katie Marie and Gabriel are Canadian citizens, they were born there -- and destroy that stability and identity.

Canada's most famous person of the last ten years is probably Naomi Klein.  She's made various lists of influential thinkers.  And she's Canadian for one reason only: the Canadian government allowed war resisters to stay.  In 1967, her parents left New Jersey and went to Toronto because her father Michael refused to serve in Vietnam.  If Canada had turned her parents away, forced them to return to the US, Naomi wouldn't have been born Canadian.  Who knows what Christian, Rebecca, Katie Marie or Gabriel might become.  Like Naomi, they could act as a face of the country on the international stage.   And Stephen Harper could increase his own stature on the world stage by doing something that would be seen as a basic kindness by people around the world.

Kim states in her e-mail:

We love Canada. My children grew up here in Parkdale in Toronto and it's all they know. If we are deported, I will face a court martial and up to five years of jail time. With a felony conviction it would be hard for me to get jobs, apply for student loans, and support my family in the future. 
 I don't regret refusing to participate and speaking out against what I felt was a completely unjust  war. Doing the right thing is not always the same as doing the easy thing, but it doesn't have to be this way -- Jason Kenney has the power to let us stay and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has even said the Iraq war "was absolutely an error." There is still time for the decision to be reversed.

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