Pregnant Mom Of 4 Sentenced To Prison For Refusing To Serve In Iraq

Private First Class Kimberly Rivera, mother of four children and pregnant with a fifth, was sentenced on April 29 to 14 months imprisonment, which was lowered to 10 months based on a plea agreement.

Her crime?

After serving a tour of duty in Iraq in 2006, she found herself unable to return.

She tells Amy Goodman in the Guardian why:

“I had a huge awakening seeing the war as it truly is: people losing their lives for greed of a nation, and the effects on the soldiers who come back with new problems such as nightmares, anxieties, depression, anger, alcohol abuse, missing limbs and scars from burns. Some don’t come back at all.”

Her attorney, James Branum, who defends soldiers who resist deployment, told me:

“She felt that she morally could not do what she was asked to do; at the same time, she realized that she would put other soldiers in danger if she didn’t pull the trigger when the time came. She talked to a chaplain about it. The chaplain largely pushed her aside, did not give her the counsel that she really needed.”

Never Advised Of Her Rights As A Conscientious Objector

This so-called Christian chaplain could have advised her that there was a regulation, AR 600-43, that gave her the right to petition to be classified a conscientious objector. He chose not to do the Christian thing.

Since she was never advised of her rights as a conscientious objector, she believed that she had no options but to return to Iraq or to emigrate to Canada. Rivera and her husband and two children fled to Canada in February, 2007, settling in Toronto.

Amnesty International identifies Rivera as a prisoner of conscience, the first American female conscientious objector to flee to Canada; she has the support of many Canadian members of Parliament, as well as that of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Yet the Canadian government denied her refugee application, and she turned herself in to US authorities at the border on September 20, 2012.

Now the United States Army has sentenced Rivera to 10 months behind bars, where she will give birth to her fifth child.

Kimberly Rivera had the courage to refuse to shoot at children in Iraq; she had the courage to dissent, to resist. As a reward for this act of bravery, she will now sit in prison, away from her husband Mario, and their four young children: Christian, 11; Rebeca, eight; Katie, five, and Gabriel, two.

Who Is The Real Hero: George W. Bush Or Kimberly Rivera?

Just two days after Rivera was sentenced to sit behind bars for 10 months for courageously giving voice to her conscience, George W. Bush was proudly holding forth at the dedication of his Presidential Library in Texas.

“Ultimately, the success of the nation depends on the character of its citizens,” declared the former president.

Rivera stopped believing she was doing the right thing in Iraq, and she stopped believing the United States was doing the right thing in Iraq. Americans were getting wounded and killed, but she saw more of Iraqi suffering.

As reported in 2012:

Rivera was troubled by a two-year-old Iraqi girl who came to the base with her family to claim compensation after a bombing by US forces.

“She was just petrified,” Rivera explained. “She was crying, but there was no sound, just tears flowing out of her eyes. She was shaking. I have no idea what had happened in her little life. All I know is I wasn’t seeing her: I was seeing my own little girl. I could imagine my daughter being one of those kids throwing rocks at soldiers, because maybe someone she loved had been killed. That Iraqi girl haunts my soul.”

George W. Bush, by contrast, refused to admit that he might have made a mistake, refused to listen to the thousands of protestors who demanded an end to the war in Iraq, a war which killed over 114, 000 people, including over 4,500 US soldiers. He never apologized, never admitted that he had any regrets at all about this mass slaughter.

He gets a Presidential Library, while Kimberly Rivera, who dared to speak her mind, gets to sit in prison.

And do you remember hearing too that Bush also went AWOL? But of course he was not punished. Unlike Ms. Rivera.

If you believe this sentence is outrageous, and that Kimberly Rivera is being punished for acting honorably and courageously, please sign the petition, demanding that she be released from prison and reunited with her husband and children.


Related Care2 Coverage

A Decade Of Mistakes: A Timeline Of The Iraq War

With One War Ending, The Military Community Remembers

WiKiLeaks Puts Secret Documents On Iraq War In Spotlight


Photo Credit: Pan-African News Wire File Photos


Ken W.
Ken W4 years ago

FB FB FB and I don't mean FaceBook.

Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore4 years ago

Didn't we learn our lesson in WWI about Conscientious Objectors? Evidently NOT!

Brian F.
Brian F4 years ago

The gutless coward Bush never showed up for the Air National Guard and he was never arrested.

Ruth R.
Ruth R4 years ago

Signed the petition!
Excellent! Thank you for the article with petition.

Ruth R.
Ruth R4 years ago

1.) She was not advised of her rights by the police who arrested her. The police did not do their true duty.
2.) She was not advised of her rights by the millitary -- who were training her. Where was the militaries training? Oviously not there.
3.) 'This so-called Christian chaplain could have advised her that there was a regulation, AR 600-43, that gave her the right to petition to be classified a conscientious objector. He chose not to do the Christian thing.' 3.)from the article.



Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

Sarah H. said "She should get a dishonorable discharge! She sounds like John Kerry when he came back from Vietnam."

By that you mean a highly decorated combat veteran, a winner of the Silver Star, who bravely and legally opposed what he thought was an unjust war after having served his country honorably, it that what you mean Sarah H.?

Merrideth S.
Merrideth S.4 years ago

I have 6 children. My husband and I afford them and take care of them AND love them. I should go to jail because I gave birth to children that I love? That is the most moronic thing I have ever heard. Other mothers serve in the military, she should have taken responsibility and not run away.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

You are absolutely right Patrish D.

She should get a dishonorable discharge! She sounds like John Kerry when he came back from Vietnam.

Pamela W.
Pamela W4 years ago

Some of the comments here show that many people either don't read the article fully or just can't add up !! Nowhere does the article say when she JOINED the army, so we can't know how many children she had AT THAT TIME. The first date mentioned is 2006, when she did her tour in Iraq (at which time she only had 2 children - aged 5 and 2). She deserted, whilst on leave, and fled to Canada in 2007 (where she had another 2 children). She returned to USA in September 2012 and, after court martial, was sentenced in April 2013. We don't know how advanced her pregnancy is ; was she already pregnant when she left Canada, or has this baby been concieved since she "surrendered" (at a time when she knew she would have to face charges of desertion ???). I'm sorry but I find it rather "convenient" that she has had 2 children (and another on the way) since doing what she well knew was wrong.

Connie D.
Connie D.4 years ago

So true Becca. I have to laugh at how well you said that. That in itself shows me this person is not responsible. WHO CAN AFFORD THAT MANY KIDS.