Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kimberly Rivera's story : being punished for acting on conscience

This story form IVAW, Iraq Veterans Against the War, comes as a stark reminder that I must not associate the evils of the military-industrial complex with the people it exploits to get its job done. It also brings out the culture of abuse and injustice... the institutional violence inherent in the way governments operate today.

Kimberly Rivera chose to join the Army when her job at Walmart failed to provide enough income to cover her family's basic needs. "I still felt like a 24-year-old loser because our jobs were not paying the bills for the apartment, food, car, car insurance, health insurance, and credit card bills."

The Army offered job security, sign-on bonuses, a food and clothing allowance, medical benefits, housing allowance, "Everything I needed, they had," she said in a 2007 interview with Courage to Resist.

Multi-billion dollar corporations are continually increasing the gap between rich and poor. Their CEOs salaries continue to grow while worker's wages remain stagnant. Poverty is one of the biggest contributors to military recruitment - nearly half of all military recruits come from lower-middle-class to poor households. The conditions created by corporations like Walmart make it nearly impossible for people to find employment options that are more appealing than the military.

Kimberly was called upon to deploy to Iraq in 2006. She witnessed injustice and violence waged against ordinary people and it was more than she could bear.

In January 2007, upon returning to the US on leave from her deployment, Kimberly and her family made the difficult decision to flee to Canada and refuse participation in an unjust war of choice.

Last year, Kimberly and her family were deported from Canada. She was tried by court martial and sentenced to 14 months in prison. 

This Thanksgiving while Walmart executives prepare to get richer, workers are being asked to leave their families over the holiday weekend to provide the necessary labor for an unfair wage, and Kimberly Rivera is in jail, preparing to deliver her baby. She is considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International and has applied for clemency - if denied, she will have her baby in prison and be forced to immediately relinquish custody.

A message from IVAW:

Stop giving your money to corporations who perpetuate militarism by keeping their workers poor. Instead, help fund social change. Consider participating in #GivingTuesday by making a donation to IVAW on Tuesday, December 3.

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Take Action to Support Kimberly Rivera

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