Tag Archives: Iraq War
Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera sentenced to 14 months in military prison after deportation by Harper government
This press release was sent out a short time ago by the War Resisters Support Campaign of Canada…
Iraq War Resister Kimberly Rivera sentenced to 14 months in military prison after deportation by Harper government
TORONTO—On Monday afternoon, during a court-martial hearing at Fort Carson, Colorado, Kimberly Rivera was sentenced to 14 months in military prison and a dishonourable discharge after publicly expressing her conscientious objection to the Iraq War while in Canada.
Under the terms of a pre-trial agreement, she will serve 10 months of that sentence.
This message is from the Kimberly Rivera Support Committee.
We are writing to you on behalf of Kimberly Rivera, an Iraq War resister.
Kimberly, from Mesquite, Texas, deployed to Iraq in 2006. After several months, she found that she could not in good conscience continue to participate in the war. While in the US on leave, she and her family sought asylum in Canada. Unfortunately, the Canadian government denied her asylum and on September 20th, she and her family voluntarily returned to the US. She was arrested at the border and is currently at Fort Carson, Colorado, awaiting a decision by her command as to what her fate will be.
We are reaching out to you today to ask if you would be willing to write a letter of support for Kim.
Here is a bit of background about Kim, and below are guidelines for letters of support:
• Kim and her husband Mario have four young children: Christian, 10; Rebecca, 8; Katie, 3; and Gabriel, 18 months.
• Kim’s objection to the war grew out of her experience in Iraq, and her faith.
• Kim’s separation from her family is causing tremendous hardship for all of the family.
• Kim was diagnosed with PTSD following her tour in Iraq, and incarceration would only exacerbate her symptoms.
In peace and solidarity,
of the Kimberly Rivera Support Committee
GUIDELINES FOR LETTERS IN SUPPORT OF KIMBERLY RIVERA
Dear friends and supporters of Kimberly Rivera,
Kimberly Rivera is currently at Fort Carson, Colorado. She is part of a unit but her future is uncertain. She likely will face a military court-martial (and if convicted a lengthy prison sentence), but there are other options for command.
We are asking friends and supporters of Kimberly to write letters of support in the hopes of persuading the military authorities to not prosecute her, but instead give her a discharge.
Letters should be sent to Kimberly’s attorney at the contact point below. Her attorney will present the letters to her command as they come in, but also may use them as mitigating evidence for sentencing/clemency purposes if her case does go to trial.
– Address letters to “To whom it may concern.”
– Please be polite and civil in your letter. It is ok to express emotion, but angry/hateful letters will not be helpful.
– Please avoid political statements in your letters. The focus needs to stay on Kimberly and her plight.
– If you know Kimberly personally, please say so in your letter. (Please also be sure and tell stories that illustrate the kind of character she has and why she should be back home with her family).
– If you are military veteran, please say so in your letter.
– Please include your full name and contact information in your letter.
– Please state in the letter that you believe that Kimberly should be immediately discharged from the Army and not prosecuted.
Letters should be sent to:
James M. Branum
Attorney at Law
PO Box 721016
Oklahoma City, OK 73172
Email: girightslawyer(at)gmail(dot)com (please include “Kimberly Rivera” in the subject line)
More legal documents and some analysis
Thank You Lieutenant Watada !
View Lt. Watada’s Historic Speech to the 2006 Veterans for Peace Convention
A federal judge in Tacoma has delayed the court-martial of 1st Lt.
Ehren Watada, a Fort Lewis Army officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq.
In a rare intervention of a civilian court in the military justice
system, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin H. Settle granted the
emergency stay shortly before close of business Friday.
Watada’s trial, slated to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, is now postponed
until at least Oct. 26, the judge ruled.
In granting the stay at 4:48 p.m., Settle determined that he has
jurisdiction under federal law to grant the stay and that Watada’s
claim that a second-trial amounts to double jeopardy is not frivolous
and “has merit” for consideration.
“The irreparable harm suffered by being put to a trial a second time
in violation of the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment
stems not just from being subjected to double punishment but also from
undergoing a second trial proceeding,” Settle wrote in quoting case
Watada’s lawyers, Jim Lobsenz and Ken Kagan of the Seattle firm Carney
Badley Spellman, have argued that the circumstances of a mistrial
declared in Watada’s court-martial in February result in double
jeopardy — being tried twice for the same charge.
The mistrial was declared over Watada’s objections and after a panel
of military officers acting as a jury had heard evidence but not begun
Watada’s appeals have been dismissed by the military trial judge and
the U.S. Army Court of Appeals. An appeal was made Sept. 18 to the
Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the highest court in the
military justice system.
Lobsenz and Kagen said they were compelled to ask the federal court on
Wednesday to stop the court-martial. Watada’s trial approached, and
nothing had been heard from the armed forces appeals court. With
Monday a federal holiday to observe Columbus Day, time was even
shorter, they said.
Settle indicated at a hearing on Thursday that he might defer to the
military appeals court if it made a decision by Friday, but at close
of business Friday, it hadn’t ruled.
Because the case being heard in federal court, the U.S. Attorney’s
Office now is arguing the government position.
Watada publicly refused to go to Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade in
June 2006, contending that the war there is illegal and exposed
members of the military to war crimes. He has been charged with
missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer. He could be
sentenced to up to six years in prison if convicted.
Settle has set up a briefing schedule to examine the merits of the
double jeopardy argument and how long he will continue the stay. The
government has until Oct. 12 to file its arguments, and Watada’s
lawyers must reply by Oct. 17.
P-I reporter Mike Barber can be reached at 206-448-8018 or
Seattle Post Intelligencer Editorial, 10/5/07
Watada Court-Martial: Let him go
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD
The twists and turns of the court-martial proceedings against Fort
Lewis 1st Lt. Ehren Watada continue to cause pain and division.
Watada came to an easily debated but apparently sincere decision that
the Iraq war was wrong, even illegal. He had one mistrial, and his
attorneys are trying to block a second proceeding as violating rules
against double jeopardy. But the court-martial is scheduled to begin
However the defense appeals turn out, we think there is a case for
letting Watada leave the Army without further ado. That could be taken
as a statement of higher-level confidence, a choice to focus on the
larger military mission that President Bush and Gen. David Petraeus
insist is making new progress. At a minimum, many of those who oppose
the Iraq war would welcome the leniency for someone they view as a
person of conscience.
AI Index: AMR 51/152/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 191
5 October 2007
USA: Conviction of war objector would violate international rights
Amnesty International today expressed serious concern that US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada could face up to six year’s imprisonment solely for his conscientious objection to participating in the Iraq war. Ehren Watada is due to face US court-martial on 9 October for refusing to deploy to Iraq.
“It is unacceptable that Ehren Watada should face punishment for peacefully expressing his objections to the war in Iraq. His internationally recognized right to conscientious objection must be respected,” said Susan Lee, Amnesty International’s Americas Programme Director today.
Ehren Watada refused to deploy to Iraq in June 2006, based on his belief that the Iraq war is illegal and immoral. Amnesty International believes that his objection to the war is genuine and that, if found guilty, he would be a prisoner of conscience who should be immediately and unconditionally released.
The right to refuse to perform military service for reasons of conscience, thought or religion is protected under international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the US has ratified.
Ehren Watada is charged with missing his unit’s deployment in June 2006 and with “conduct unbecoming an officer” for making public comments criticizing President George Bush and the Iraq war. In addition to a possible six-year prison term, he also faces a dishonourable discharge from the Army. His first court-martial in February 2007 was declared a mis-trial after questions arose as to whether Ehren Watada had understood a pre-trial agreement he had signed.
Ehren Watada joined the army in 2003 for a three-year term, which was due to end in December 2006. In January 2006, he submitted a letter to his army command outlining his reasons for refusing to participate in the Iraq war and asking to resign from the army. He did not formally apply for conscientious objector status because US army regulations stipulate that applicants for this status must be opposed to war in any form; they do not provide for conscientious objector status on the basis of an objection to a specific war.
Amnesty International considers a conscientious objector to be any person who, for reasons of conscience or profound conviction, refuses to participate in war or armed conflict. This can include refusal to participate in a war because one disagrees with its aims or the manner in which it was being waged, even if one does not oppose taking part in all wars.
In a speech given in August 2006, Ehren Watada defended his position, “One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”
By Marti Hiken
Co-chair NLG Military Law Task Force
Are you in the IRR and received your marching orders for Iraq?
IRR members have been called to active duty throughout the country. The marching orders state that you are headed for Iraq. The military does not have enough troops and has decided that you will fill its needs.
Many of you have simply not shown up and yet, have not had warrants issued to pick you up and have not been arrested. There have been reports from IRR members, however, who have received threatening phone calls and mail from the military, but still were not arrested. There are others of you who do not feel comfortable remaining in this no-man’s land.
The MLTF and GI Rights Hotline continue to receive many calls from Army and Marine IRR enlisted and officer members who have been called up. Here are some things to consider:
- Do you have a DD 214 in your hands that says you have been discharged? What is the stated basis for the discharge? What obligation were you discharged from? Too often GIs think they are discharged only to discover that they weren’t.
- For those who were actually discharged, you will need to “document” clearly the reason for the discharge to the military.
- Have you been discharged, but are still being “held” in the IRR for some reason?
- Have you previously been discharged and had your orders for discharge revoked? You are in a good position here, and a simple letter to the command might correct the situation.
- Have you requested delays or exemptions? Are you medically fit or is there a need for you to care for family members? Do you have grounds for financial hardship?
- If an officer, have you resigned your commission?
Two different viewpoints have been expressed by experienced MLTF members concerning how to deal with this situation. The first viewpoint asserts that nothing happens when IRR members do not report, and as one attorney states, “It is unfortunate that too many IRR members cave. A warrant is not the end of the line, but rather an opportunity to get a discharge from the IRR through turning themselves in at Forts Sill or Knox.” A “bad” discharge from the IRR has no affect on the benefits otherwise accrued.
The second viewpoint urges IRR members to always ask for extensions to delay their reporting dates as long as possible and to have attorneys assist them. One attorney states, “In my experience — just as we experienced with the Selective Service System years ago — the military personnel commands will frequently back off rather than fight over a particular person who effectively (and publicly) resists.”
Resources: DOD Directive 1235.13