USA: Kimberly Rivera imprisoned - punished for speaking out
Kimberly Rivera, who was a member of the US military before developing a conscientious objection between deployments to Iraq, has been sentenced to 14 months in military prison for desertion. This sentence is much harsher than others in a similar situation who have not publicly declared their opposition to the war in Iraq.
Kimberly is pregnant and is the mother of four children under 10.
Kimberly fled to Canada between deployments in 2007 having become convinced of the wrongfulness of the war in Iraq. She was not made aware of the opportunity to apply for conscientious objector status by the army Chaplain she visited in Iraq to discuss the fact that she had decided that she could not take a life.
As her lawyer says, "Because she spoke out against the Iraq War, Kim's sentence is harsher than the punishment given to 94 percent of deserters who are not punished but administratively discharged."
Ignoring international standards
The right to refuse to perform military service for reasons of conscience is part of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as recognised in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States of America is a state party.
This includes those who have joined the armed forces voluntarily, since the freedom to change one's religion or belief is recognised in Article 18 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This was also specified in the Human Rights Committee General Comment 22, paragraph 5.
What you can do
War Resisters' International calls for protest letters to the US authorities - you can do that via the email form here - /node/21704.
Please also contact the American Embassy in your own country. Contact details can be found here: www.usembassy.gov.
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Kimberly Rivera.
War Resisters' International