PREGNANT WAR RESISTER SEEKS EARLY RELEASE FROM MILITARY PRISON
495 supporters from around the world write letters in support of clemency application
November 4, 2013
Fort Carson, Colorado – Private First Class Kimberly Rivera has submitted a clemency application seeking a reduction by 45 days in the 10 month prison sentence she received for failing to return to her unit in Iraq and fleeing to Canada.
The request for clemency was based on humanitarian reasons due to pregnacy. Unless clemency is granted, PFC Kimberly will be forced to give birth in prison and then immediately relinquish custody of her son while she continues to serve the remainder of her sentence. Unfortunately military regulations provide no provisions for her to be able to breastfeed her infant son while she is in prison.
Fort Carson Senior Commander Brigadier General Michael A. Bills will be making a decision on PFC Rivera's clemency request in the coming weeks.
PFC Rivera's case made international news when she was the first female US soldier in the current era to flee to Canada for reasons of conscience. After a protracted struggle through the Canadian legal system, she was deported back to the United States in September 2012.
On April 29, 2013, PFC Rivera pled guilty at a general court-martial to charges of desertion. She was sentenced by the military judge to fourteen months in prison, loss of rank and pay, and a dishonorable discharge; thanks to a pre-trial agreement her sentence was reduced to an actual sentence to ten months of confinement and a bad-conduct discharge.
Kimberly Rivera has been recognized by Amnesty International as a “prisoner of conscience.” She is the mother of four children, ages 11, 9, 4 and 2.
Kimberly Rivera's request for clemency was accompanied by 495 letters of support, written by family members, friends, as well as members of Amnesty International from 19 countries.
“We have many organization to thank for the outpouring of support for Kimberly Rivera, including Amnesty International, Courage to Resist, the War Resisters Support Campaign of Canada, Veterans for Peace and Coffee Strong,” said James M. Branum, civilian defense attorney for PFC Rivera. “We also want to thank the tireless efforts of local supporters in Colorado Springs and San Diego who have taken the time to visit Kim in while she has been jailed as well as to provide assistance to Kim's family.”
While the official clemency request is now complete, supporters of PFC Rivera are still encouraged to continue to speak out on her behalf. Letters in support of PFC Rivera's clemency request can be sent directly to:
Brigadier General Michael A. Bills
c/o Fort Carson Public Affairs Office 1626 Ellis Street Suite 200, Building 1118 Fort Carson, CO 80913
Center for Conscience in Action - Legal Support Project
Pregnant USA prisoner of conscience, Kimberly Rivera, will serve 10 months in prison following sentencing at her court martial at Fort Carson, Colorado. She deserted the US army while deployed in Iraq because she felt morally unable to take part in the conflict.
After pleading guilty to desertion at her court martial on 29 April 2013, Private First Class Kimberly Rivera was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, reduced to 10 months under the terms of a plea agreement. She was also given a bad conduct discharge from the army. She is pregnant with her fifth child.
Kimberly Rivera has been detained by the US military authorities since 20 September 2012, when she was arrested for desertion from the army. Kimberly Rivera left the army without authorization while on leave from deployment to Iraq in early 2007, and went to Canada after deciding that morally she could no longer participate in the war in Iraq or any other conflict. In Canada she applied for protection as a refugee, but was deported in September 2012 after her application was rejected on appeal.
Kimberly Rivera spoke out publicly about her objection to the conflict in Iraq while in Canada. During the attempt to stop her deportation, her lawyer submitted evidence to show that service personnel in similar situations who speak out publicly in this way have been treated more harshly than those who do not, on their return to the USA.
Kimberly Rivera is currently in prison (her current location can be found at www.freekimberlyrivera.org as she is likely to be moved soon), but For Carson commander, Major General Paul J. LaCamera, has the power to grant her clemency and release her from prison earlier.
Pleas sign this petition to:
Urge the authorities to release Private First Class Kimberly Rivera immediately and unconditionally, as she is a prisoner of conscience, jailed for her conscientious objection to participation in the armed conflict in Iraq.
Urge the authorities to, at the very least, grant PFC Kimberly Rivera an early release from confinement on humanitarian grounds due to her pregnancy.
Dear Brigadier General Michael A. Bills
cc: Major General Paul J. LaCamera, cc: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel,
cc: President Barack Obama
We the undersigned urge you to
Release Private First Class Kimberly Rivera immediately and unconditionally, as she is a prisoner of conscience, jailed for her conscientious objection to participation in the armed conflict in Iraq.
At the very least, grant PFC Kimberly Rivera an early release from confinement on humanitarian grounds due to her pregnancy.
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