Kimberly Rivera, a US soldier who developed a conscientious objection to war and then sought refuge in Canada, is pictured with CFSC General Secretary Jane Orion Smith following a press conference in Toronto, Ontario on August 31, 2012 where many groups spoke in support of Ms. Rivera and her family, asking that the Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney, grant the family status in Canada on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds.
Jane Orion Smith spoke passionately in defense of the rights of conscientious objectors, and the difficulties that have faced the US “war resisters” who have come to Canada – loss of country, family, friends, community. She noted that conscientious objectors are not criminals but heroes, with rights in domestic and international law.
Kimberly Rivera is married, has four children (two born in Canada), and arrived in Canada in 2006 as the first female US war resister. In explaining her objection to the Iraq War and decision to leave the United States, Kim has said, “On leave back in the U.S., my husband and I decided the war was wrong based on our values as Christians, and the Army was tearing my family apart. We decided that we would go to Canada, where we heard there were other families like ours”. We are very concerned about her return to the United States, where she will face prosecution (a warrant has been issued for her arrest for desertion). In such a situation, she would be separated from her children – an immense hardship for the entire family. Her youngest child is under two years of age.
A letter from CFSC, The United Church of Canada, and Mennonite Central Committee Canada to the Minister of Immigration, Jason Kenney, was released publicly at the press conference. In it, the Minister is asked to intervene and grant the family status in Canada on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds. The UCC, MCC Canada and CFSC previously wrote a letter to the government in support of Kimberly Rivera in March 2009, when she was faced deportation. That deportation was stayed when the Federal Court reviewed the basis for the negative Pre-Removal Risk Assessment and ordered that it be reconsidered by a new
A letter released by the Canadian Council of Churches on 15 May 2012 also called on the Minister to allow these conscientious objectors to stay in Canada. The members of the Council represent 80% of Christians in Canada.
To follow developments on this case, please visit the War Resisters Support Campaign website: www.resisters.ca