Mom of 3 faces jail
U.S. Iraq war resister among 5 set for deportation
By Jason Buckland, Sun Media
The January weather isn't as pleasant as her native Texas, but U.S. Iraq war resister Kimberley Rivera wants desperately to stay.
With her 7-week-old daughter, Katie, strapped close to her chest, the first known female war resister to seek re-fuge in Canada faces deportation next week.
Rivera was joined by supporters at Nathan Phillips Square yesterday for the kick-off of "Let Them Stay Week" in support of five U.S. Iraq War resisters in Canada set to be returned to the States during the next 10 days.
The mother of three faces deportation -- and possible jail time -- on Jan. 27.
'KNEW IN MY HEART'
Rivera, who served in Iraq, came to Toronto in early 2007 from Texas. Along with husband, Mario, and kids Christian, 6, Rebecca, 4, and Katie, Rivera moved to Parkdale where she planned to start their new life.
"I just knew in my heart and in my mind that I couldn't keep doing what I was doing," she said.
But now, as the U.S. government is lobbying for her return to native soil, Rivera fears she may go the way of Robin Long, a war resister living in Canada who was deported, court martialed and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
"(She) would also receive a dishonourable discharge which is the equivalent of a felony charge," said Lee Zaslofsky, co-ordinator for the War Resisters Support Campaign. "We feel that is extremely harsh."
Zaslofsky draws on the House of Commons motion passed last June calling on the Government of Canada to immediately cease deportation proceedings that have been commenced against all U.S. Iraq War resisters.
"We thought at the time there was a good chance the government would actually carry out the will of parliament," he said. "It turns out their ideological convictions were otherwise."
The grisly state of the Iraq War was highlighted yesterday by resister Joshua Key, who is AWOL from his call of duty but is not yet facing deportation.
He said he decided to flee the military after coming across two decapitated bodies on the bank of an Iraq river.
"I looked to my right and there was one American soldier holding back screaming Iraqis and to my left there were two American soldiers kicking around their heads like a soccer ball," Key said.
"I made the decision then I didn't want to be a part of that anymore."
CanWest News Service also ran this story on the Chris Teske decision. It ran on Canada.com, the Vancouver Province, Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, and several other papers.
An American army deserter who has been living in B.C. in an attempt to avoid serving in the U.S.-led war in Iraq has joined a growing list of refugee applicants to be refused asylum in Canada.
Chris Teske, 27, who joined the army after the 9/11 attacks in New York, asked the Federal Court for a stay of removal but was denied late Monday night and told to leave Canada by Tuesday or be removed by force.
However, Michelle Robidoux, a spokeswoman with the War Resisters' Support Campaign said Teske won a three-day reprieve from the Canada Border Services Agency to allow him more time to get to a border crossing closer to his B.C. home in Castlegar.
Supporters used the delay to make a last-ditch effort to appeal to the Conservative government to allow him to stay.
B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to take immediate action to stop the deportation and others.
Given a lack of confidence in the House of Commons by the Opposition and U.S. President Barack Obama's stance against the Iraq war, Atamanenko said the Canadian government should reconsider its position and intervene.
"Should there ever be a coalition government then it's my assumption and hope that we can review this and then put a stop to all of this," he said.
Teske served two tours in Afghanistan and says he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder before being called to train gunners in Iraq in 2006. He refused to go to Iraq on moral and conscientious grounds because he believed the war immoral.
He and his wife then fled to British Columbia where they have lived for the past two years in the West Kootenays in the Interior of the province. Teske has been working at a truss construction company.
Earlier this month, Kimberly Rivera, who served in Iraq in 2006 but deserted after being informed of her redeployment the following year, went before the Immigration and Refugee Board in Toronto with her husband and two young children to ask to stay in Canada on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. Instead, she was given until Jan. 27 to voluntarily leave or face deportation.
At the time, Kenney accused the deserters of filing "bogus" refugee claims.
There are at least four other American army deserters and their families facing deportation in January.