Saturday, 24 November 2012

Update on Kimberly Rivera & U.S. Iraq War Resisters


It has been a period of intensive work on many fronts since the Harper government told Kimberly Rivera and her family they had to leave Canada. In spite of a national mobilization with events in 8 cities, an op-ed in the Globe and Mail by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in support of Kim, and tens of thousands of people writing letters, faxing, sending emails and phoning Immigration Minister Jason Kenney calling on him to let the Riveras stay in Canada, the Conservative government forced Kim and her family – including two children born in Canada – to leave this country.

But Kim’s case confirmed once again that there is a broad and deep support for the stand that Kim and other U.S. war resisters have taken in refusing to participate in an illegal and immoral war. And we are more determined than ever to build on the support for Kim to give voice to that majority of Canadians who opposed the Iraq War and who want a provision made for US war resisters to stay in Canada. Below is a brief update on Kim’s situation, and an APPEAL to help the War Resisters Support Campaign continue to mobilize in support of the many other U.S. war resisters who still face the threat of deportation.

 • On September 17th, Harper government representatives argued in Federal Court that the possibility of Kim being arrested by U.S. authorities was "merely speculative". The Federal Court took the government lawyer's argument at face value and denied a stay of removal on the basis that it was ‘speculative’ that she would be arrested and subject to court-martial.
          On September 20th, Kim and her family voluntarily left Canada, and Kim was immediately arrested at the border to the U.S.  She is currently awaiting court martial on charges of desertion. As Kim’s lawyer Alyssa Manning had clearly stated, there was abundant evidence that Kim faced arrest and harsh punishment if returned to U.S. authorities. Following her arrest, Kim was taken to Fort Drum, N.Y. and shortly after, to a county jail. After several days she was transported to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
          She is separated from her husband and four young children who are in Texas and are missing Kim terribly. In a recent interview, Kim's husband Mario Rivera explained how difficult it has been for himself and, especially, for the children to be separated from their mother. "I explained to them that Mommy is away for a while and she will come back as soon as she can. Katie thinks she’s lost and wants to go rescue her. She is anxious and nervous about it. She closes herself off from people as she’s missing her mom real bad... Gabriel too. He misses his mom real bad. He holds a picture of her and kisses it and tries to reach through the picture to grab her."
          Kim and her family are receiving support from the U.S.-based organization Courage to Resist as well as the War Resisters Support Campaign, and there is a dedicated group of supporters in Colorado Springs who visit her regularly at Fort Carson. James Branum, who has worked on many U.S. war resister cases, is Kim’s civilian lawyer. Supporters in the U.S. have been working hard to facilitate Kim’s family visiting her in Colorado Springs.

• There are still many other U.S. war resisters and their families in Canada who are facing the threat of deportation, and we urgently need to continue to build support for them. The Harper government's attack on the Rivera family has produced a groundswell of support for war resisters in Canada. Many people were disgusted and angered by the scene of Conservative MPs applauding the news that Kim and her family had been forced to leave the country on September 20th.
          In their push for increasing militarization of Canada, the Conservative government is criminalizing war resisters and silencing anti-war voices. Millions of Canadians disagree with this. The outpouring of support for Kim has shown once again that people care deeply about this issue, and many are prepared to take action for war resisters. We need to keep up the pressure to achieve what two votes in Parliament and a majority of Canadians have demanded: that Canada should enact a provision to allow U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.
          Over the next weeks and months, the War Resisters Support Campaign will be initiating a broad outreach campaign to build on the mobilization of the past few weeks. A signature ad by prominent Canadians including Andy Barrie, Alexandre Trudeau, John Polanyi and many others will publicly call on the Canadian government to stop deporting U.S. war resisters. And we will continue to build the campaign to repeal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s discriminatory Operational Bulletin 202: http://resisters.ca/resources/
To do all of this, WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
Please consider making a contribution to the War Resisters Defense Fund, which will allow us to carry out this work. To donate on-line please click on this link: http://resisters.chipin.com
Or you can send a cheque to: War Resisters Support Campaign 427 Bloor Street West, Box 13 Toronto, ON M5S 1X7 The stakes are high for those US soldiers who have risked their futures by refusing to participate in a war Canadians rejected.
          The Harper government threatens to rip apart their families and facilitate their ‘rendition’ to harsh punishment, as they did to Kim Rivera. The Conservatives are determined to close the door on the tradition of Canadian asylum for US war resisters, and to override the overwhelming opposition to the Iraq War, by driving Iraq War resisters out of Canada. But they have NOT succeeded in changing public opinion on either front. That is because of war resisters’ voices, and the movement of people who support them. We need to make sure those voices continue to be heard in the period ahead.
War Resisters Support Campaign - www. resisters.ca - 416.598.1222 - wrsctoronto@gmail.com
Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s op-ed in The Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/dont-deport-war-resister-kimberly-rivera/article4544856/
------- War Resisters Support Campaign Web:  http://www.resisters.ca/
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/WarResisters
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WarResisters

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