Imprisoned pregnant war resister seeks early release for birth of son
495 supporters from around the world write letters in support of clemency application
Donations to assist the Rivera Family can be made online here. 100% of donated funds will assist the Rivera Family.
By James Branum and Courage to Resist. November 4, 2013
Fort Carson, Colorado – Imprisoned war resister PFC Kimberly Rivera
has submitted a clemency application seeking a reduction by 45 days in
the 10 month prison sentence she received for seeking asylum in Canada
rather return to her unit in Iraq.
The request for clemency was
based on humanitarian reasons due to pregnancy. Unless clemency is
granted, Private First Class Kimberly Rivera 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
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.
She was then immediately arrested and sent back to the Army to stand
In an interview with Courage to Resist on the eve of her court-martial,
Rivera said, “When I saw the little girl [in Iraq] shaking in fear, in
fear of me, because of my uniform, I couldn’t fathom what she had been
through and all I saw was my little girl and I just wanted to hold her
and comfort her. But I knew I couldn’t. It broke my heart. I am against
hurting anyone… I would harm myself first. I felt this also made me a
liability to my unit and I could not let me be a reason for anyone to be
harmed—so I left... Even though I did not fill out the official
application to obtain conscientious objector status, I consider myself a
conscientious objector to all war.”
On April 29, 2013, PFC Rivera pled 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 organizations 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 recognize the tireless efforts of local
supporters in Colorado Springs and San Diego who have taken the time to
visit Kim in prison as well as to provide important support to Kim’s
family in her absence.”
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
Brigadier General Michael A. Bills
c/o Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
1626 Ellis Street
Suite 200, Building 1118
Fort Carson, CO 80913
Supporters are also encouraged to sign an online petition posted at:
Photos: Top-Kimberly with husband Mario
during her court martial. Middle-Kimberly in Canada prior to being
deported. Bottom-Courage to Resist rallies outside Canadian Consulate,
San Francisco CA, prior to Kimberly's forced return.
Initial press release by The Center for Conscience in Action, an Oklahoma City-based
organization dedicated to the intersection of peace, conscience and
direct action. CCA’s Legal Support Project provides low and no cost
legal representation to military service members seeking discharge on
the grounds of conscience.
For more information or to schedule an interview about this
subject, please contact James M. Branum, lead defense counsel for PFC
Rivera, at 405-494-0562 or girightslawyer(at)gmail(dot)com. Consolidated
Brig Miramar generally forbids inmates from doing interviews with the
press, but you are welcome to see if an exception can be made by
contacting the Brig Public Affairs office at 858-577-7071.
Additional case updates will be posted at couragetoresist.org and freekimberlyrivera.org