Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Will you help Kim Rivera?

kim rivera

As noted in yesterday's snapshotArchbishop Desmond Tutu has joined the call for Iraq War veteran and war resister Kimberly Rivera (above) to remain in Canada. In early 2007, while home on a pass, Kim knew she couldn't continue with the Iraq War and she and her family moved to Canada. At The Strength of the Absurd, Kim's friend explains, "Kimberly Rivera grew up in Mesquite, Texas. When she was 17, Army recruiters visited her home offering money for college that her family did not have. She signed up to be a mechanic and was enlisted in the Army Reserves.In October 2006 her unit was activated and deployed to Iraq. What she witnessed during that deployment affected her deeply. In January 2007 on a two week leave in the US, Kim and her husband Mario agreed she would not go back to Iraq. In 2007 she became the first woman U.S. Iraq war resister to seek asylum in Canada. She lives in Canada with her husband and four children, two of them born in Canada."

 Erin Criger (City News) notes "Amnesty International, the Canadian Labour Congress and the United Church of Canada have all supported Rivera."  In addition, many individual Canadians support her as well as organizations such as the United Steelworkers of Canada which issued a statement calling for the government of Canada to let Kim and her family stay  and  Canada's National Union of Public and General Employees which also issued a statement.   She also has the support of the United Church of Canada which issued the following:

Kimberly Rivera, a U.S. soldier who developed a conscientious objection to war while serving in Iraq, arrived in Canada in 2007 seeking refuge. On August 30, 2012, Kimberly Rivera and her family (including two Canadian-born children) were ordered to leave Canada by September 20. The United Church of Canada, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), and the Mennonite Central Committee Canada responded immediately with a joint letter (scroll to the bottom of the page) to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney asking that he allow the Rivera family to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
While Kim and her lawyer pursue all legal avenues to challenge the family’s removal, there is an urgent need for those who support the rights of conscientious objectors to ask the Minister to allow the Rivera family to stay in Canada.

Take Action

There is a very small window of time to act—up to September 19. Please help the Rivera family stay in Canada.
  • Worship: Pray for Kimberly Rivera and her family, as well as the other war resisters facing potential deportation from Canada.
  • Contact Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, by telephone, fax, or e-mail. Draft letters are on the War Resisters’ website ; also see Amnesty International’s blog post for ideas.
    Jason Kenney, can be reached at
    Phone: 613-954-1064
    Fax: 613-957-2688
    E-mail: Jason Kenney
  • Sign the online petition
  • Organize or participate in the Days of Action on Friday, September 14, and Wednesday September 19. This is the day before the Riveras' removal date. We must raise our collective voice to loudly say: Let Them Stay!


In 1986, the 31st General Council of The United Church of Canada affirmed the right of freedom of thought, conscience, and religions including the right of conscientious objection to war. The General Council cited the Charter of the United Nations, which has been ratified by Canada, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as both declaring that everyone has the right to freedom of conscience and religion. We believe that, as human beings, we are called to love, show compassion, and offer sanctuary to those who ask for our help. This is part of our identity as a country and our mission as churches.

The Ontario Humanist Society also asks you to sign on to the petition.

Catherine (Soul Side) observes, "Twice parliament has voted to allow US Iraq war resisters to stay in the country, just as happened during the Vietnam war. Canadians understand the importance of personal conscience, of staying true to principles that matter. But the Harper government refuses to allow Rivera any justice." Tracey (Ariel View) explains, "Many people know that I’m in favour of supporting soldiers, so they may be surprised that I also want deserters and draft dodgers respected. The issue for me is the same as it has always been. People who fight wars on behalf of the public deserve our support, even if they once joined the military, thinking they wanted to fight. People who don’t want to fight wars for any reason shouldn’t have to."  After the news broke of the September 20th deadline, Trina wrote of Kim at her site:

Kim took a great personal risk and did so for what she believed in.  Once in Canada, she spoke out when the issue needed her.  She didn't try to turn herself into a celebrity.  If you ever read her blog on Liveblog (I can't find it there anymore), you know she was focused on her family and on her kids and she was trying to teach them ethics and how to lead a solid life.
Kim's someone I would be friends with.  She's someone I would make a point to go up and hug when I saw her in church on Sundays.    She's a regular person like you or me and that came out in her blog where, like me, she'd write about food or about her kids.
And now this woman who was so glad and so grateful to be in Canada and so wanting to become a Canadian citizen may be forced out of the country.
Kim is not a person who tried to grab the spotlight.  She's just a mother who couldn't live with returning to what she saw in Iraq, couldn't live with herself if she returned.  And she also had to make sure that whatever did happen, it kept her family together.  Canada was the best possible answer and I just can't believe that Canada's going to force her to leave.

Jai Parasram (Jyoti Communication) notes, "If deported along with their parents, Kim’s children -- Christian (10 years old) in Grade 5, Rebecca (8 years old) in Grade 3, and Katie (3 years old) in Junior Kindergarten—will be forced to leave the only school and classmates they have ever known.Krystalline Kraus (Rabble) notes these actions you can take part in today and tomorrow:

Tuesday: - Call Jason Kenney's office, and urge him to stop the deportation of the Rivera family: 613.954.1064.


But the Stephen Harper government is ordering her to leave by September 20th or face deportation.

- Join a rally in support of the Rivera family. Bring your banners, flags, and signs in support of Kim and all of the Iraq War resisters.

In Toronto the rally will be held at the Federal Court, 180 Queen Street West, from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.
For a list of rallies in other cities, go to http://resisters.ca/support-the-rivera-family/.

The War Resisters Support Campaign will be holding a press conference this afternoon.

What:     Media conference in support of Iraq War resister Kimberly Rivera  
Who:      Chuck Wiley, Iraq War resister;                                   
          Bill King, Vietnam War resister & Artistic Director, Beaches      
          International Jazz Festival;                                      
          Father Paul Hansen, Catholic priest;                              
          Michelle Robidoux, spokesperson, War Resisters Support Campaign.  
When:     Tuesday, September 18 - 2:30 p.m. EDT                             
Where:    Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON     

They explain:

On Friday, September 14, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) issued a decision saying the removal of the Rivera family would not be deferred because the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will not be making a decision in the Riveras' application for humanitarian and compassionate consideration any time soon.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) guidelines say that decisions on H&C grounds applications should take an average of 36 months. Given the special attention that CIC has put on the cases of US war resister, as indicated by Operational Bulletin 202 (http://www.resisters.ca/2010.09.29-Embassy_WithdrawUSWarResisterBulletin.pdf), the fact that no decision has been made 3 years after Kimberly Rivera's H&C application was submitted suggests that the Minister is dragging this case out.
In 2010, the Federal Court of Appeal found that evidence of conscientious objection is an important matter which must be considered in a humanitarian and compassionate grounds application.
Instead of deciding H&C grounds applications per the court's decision, Minister Kenney has interfered in the process by issuing a prejudicial operational directive that "misstates the law and seeks to intrude on the independence of" decision-makers by requiring immigration officers to "seek guidance" from headquarters regarding the files of Iraq War resisters, and he is now trying to deport the Rivera family without a H&C grounds application decision.
War Resisters Support Campaign
Michelle Robidoux, Spokesperon

War Resisters Support Campaign
Ken Maricniec, Communications Volunteer

Two days and you'd think there would be more coverage outside of Canada (with the exception of Trina, I believe all the writers above are in Canada).  There's not and I'll relate two stories.

This morning I'm in a loud phone argument with a friend as I'm doing this entry and flipping screens to do the other.  What's the argument about?  He's calling to talk about his "Iraq" column.  I've hectored and lectured every friend I can and one has finally written about Iraq.  Great.  And he starts reading his favorite parts (columnists always have favorite parts -- plural -- of their columns, it's never singular, they feel they've been touched by greatness all over their bodies).  And, yes, they are good parts.  But when he's done singing his own praises,  I ask so where are Iraq's LGBT community or Kim Rivera?  Those are the two points I've been hectoring and lecturing everyone in the media about lately.

Uh-well, this is an election year and --

And he wrote a column 'on' Iraq to argue for you to vote for Barack.  How the hell does that help Kim or Iraq's LGBT community?  (The LGBT community continues to be persecuted, last week the BBC did an investigative series on this that other media ignored.)  My answer: It doesn't.  His: "Maybe it's gets people thinking."

Maybe it does.  Maybe it gets them thinking that another generic column on Iraq's been crafted to say little more than "War bad."  Great.

I think the majority agree on that.  How does that help anyone?

It boggles the mind.  I can remember Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter being forced to take positions on war resisters after Vietnam.  Ford offered a program for deserters and draft evaders, Carter offered relief only for the draft evaders.  A Republican and a Democrat president -- and both were forced by the American people to address it.  Ford more so than Carter which is why Carter did so damn little.  I remember US House Rep Elizabeth Holtzman insisting that Carter would next address the deserters.  But he never did because we on the left failed to hold our own accountable.  We were happy to make demands on Ford but we didn't really make demands on Carte.

Even so, useless Jimmy did more than Barack has.  And yet Barack's so-called opposition to the Iraq War is what got him the nomination.  And he insists he deserves credit for 'ending' a mistake.  But if it's a mistake, why won't help Kim and other war resisters?  And why the hell don't we make the demand that he help them?

So that's one story, the columnist.  With columnists and friends on editorial boards, I can argue about the LGBT Iraqis and Kim Rivera and make appeals about how they should come out in support of them.  With reporters -- who are supposed to be objective -- those friends I have to make the case for why either is news.  On Kim, reporters offer some variation of, "At this point, the only news is going to be that she's deported or she's not."  They're not considering the protests to keep Kim in Canada as news worthy.  I disagree but that's why you're not seeing it.

In part, they don't consider the protests news worthy because they insist it is a 'regional story' -- meaning of interest to Canadians only.  They base this argument upon the fact that there is no Little Media (The Nation, The Progressive, etc) coverage of Kim in this country (United States).  Of course, there's no coverage from Panhandle Media.  Do they ever cover issues that matter?  Do you know I can list over 30 names in Panhandle Media who promised to  cover Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier Investigation as it was happening to raise awareness?  Do you know how
many kept that promise?


Chris Hayes.  He was the only one who kept the promise.  One out of over 30.

Kim needs help.  But it appears she's another story the Beggar Media will ignore.  Remember that the next time they try to stand on their soapbox or insist that they, and only they, go where the silences are.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.