- Rivera first woman to refuse return to Iraq, take refuge in Canada
- USDOJ had told Canadian judge they would not detain her
Compiled from reports by the War Resisters Support Campaign
September 20, 2012
U.S. Iraq War resister Kimberly Rivera voluntarily presented herself at the U.S.-Canada border this morning, after requests to have Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney process her humanitarian and compassionate application to remain in Canada were denied.
Rivera was immediately arrested and detained, and transferred to military custody. She now awaits transfer to a different military facility where she faces punishment for being absent from her unit.
Her family, including four minor children, crossed separately. Kimberly did not want her children to have to see her detained by the U.S. military, as this would be traumatic for them.
On Aug. 30, the Canadian government ordered Rivera, her husband Mario and their children deported to the United States. Kimberly served in Iraq in 2006, and sought refuge in Canada in 2007 after making the decision that she could no longer participate in the Iraq War. Kimberly was the first woman U.S. Iraq War resister to come to Canada. She and her family were living in Toronto.
She now faces harsh punishment. Iraq war resisters Robin Long and Clifford Cornell, also deported by the government of Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were court-martialed and sentenced to 15 months and 12 months respectively for speaking out against the Iraq War, upon their return to the U.S.
Rivera and her attorneys appealed the deportation order.
During a Federal Court hearing in Toronto Sept. 16, lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice argued that Kimberly would not be detained when she crossed the border. Justice David Near, of the Federal Court, ultimately denied her request for a stay of removal, finding arrest and detention to be speculative.
But despite the USDOJ’s guarantees, Rivera was indeed arrested immediately on her re-entry into the U.S.
Rivera has mass international support for her war resistance.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa earlier called on Canada to welcome Rivera.
“Despite all of the ghastliness in the world, human beings are made for goodness,” Tutu said. “The ones who are held in high regard are not militarily powerful nor even economically prosperous. They have a commitment to try to make the world a better place. I truly believe that Kimberly Rivera is such a person, and that Canada can only benefit from allowing her to stay.” Read the full opinion piece here.
An overflow crowd of residents from the Parkdale neighborhood of Toronto turned out to an emergency meeting on September 5th to show their support for Rivera and her family, and to call on the government to allow her to stay in their community. The meeting heard from all three elected representatives from her riding, and Archbishop Tutu’s statement of support was read. The meeting then spilled into the streets for a candlelight procession through the neighbourhood.
During the Sept. 3 Labour Day parade, Rivera marched with The War Resisters Support Campaign, part of the United Steelworkers contingent, along with Vietnam Veterans against the War and supporters from Buffalo, N.Y.
Canada’s elected Parliament has adopted two motions calling on the federal government to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. But Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney has publicly labeled Iraq War resisters as “bogus refugee claimants.”
In July 2010, Kenney issued a bulletin to all Immigration Officers requiring them to red-flag applications that involve US war resisters, labeling them as ‘criminally inadmissible’.
Amnesty International Canada and former Immigration and Refugee Board Chair Peter Showler have called for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Operational Bulletin 202 to be rescinded because it “fails to recognize that military desertion for reasons of conscience is in fact clearly recognized as a legitimate ground for refugee protection” and it “misstates the law and seeks to intrude on the independence of both IRB members and Immigration Officers.”
In addition to Rivera and her family, other war resisters living in Canada face imminent deportation to the United States. Another war resister has been told to complete all of the submissions for his case by September 20th and to expect a decision shortly afterwards. Many other resisters are awaiting decisions on Humanitarian & Compassionate applications or spousal sponsorships. It appears that these decisions will now start coming in quickly.
The War Resisters Support Campaign is urgently appealing for financial help to assist with this crucial phase of the fight to win asylum for war resisters.
Faith communities, human rights organizations, refugee rights groups and thousands of Canadians have called on the Minister to implement their Parliament’s motions, or, at a minimum, to allow the individual cases to be heard on their own merit.
The only reason that US Iraq War resisters have been able to stay in Canada as long as they have is because of the tremendous support they have received from Canadians for their courageous decision to stand up against a war that was internationally recognized as illegal and immoral.
The campaign says on their website, “Nobody deserves to spend even a single day in jail for making a conscientious decision not to participate in the Iraq war. We hope you will give as generously as you can. A victory for U.S. war resisters in Canada will be a major victory for peace and justice, and for the kind of Canada we want this country to be.”
Here’s how to donate:
1. Donate online by going here:
2. Donate by cheque:
To mail a donation, make a cheque payable to the War Resisters Support Campaign and mail it to:
War Resisters Support Campaign
Box 13, 427 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1X7
Also see U.S. war resisters’ website at http://couragetoresist.org/.