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Hamiltonians join protest in support of U.S. war resister

Members of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War set up camp in front of the Federal Building at 55 Bay St. North on Wednesday in support of former American soldier and conscientious objector Kimberly Rivera.
Hamiltonians gather to protest the deportation to the U.S. of a former soldier who came to Canada to avoid returning to fight in Iraq. (Hamilton Coalition to Stop The War)

Members of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War set up camp in front of the Federal Building at 55 Bay St. North on Wednesday in support of former American soldier and conscientious objector Kimberly Rivera.

Ken Stone, a member of the Coalition, called the protest just one aspect of a "national day of action" in support of Rivera.

Rivera served one tour of duty in Iraq in 2006. Disillusioned by what she saw there, she refused to return to the country or active service while on leave in 2007. She came to Canada in 2007 in hopes of attaining refugee status.

Rivera, her husband and four kids live in Toronto. She is scheduled to be deported Friday.

Stone called the event an "informational picket." The group hopes to persuade Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to drop the deportation order against Rivera and her family. Rivera's case has caught the attention of many anti-war and human rights groups over the past three years.

As of Tuesday morning, 19,000 people had signed a petition on the Change.org site (http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/minister-kenney-stop-the-deportation-of-iraq-war-resister-kimberly-rivera) urging Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to consider Rivera's application to stay in Canada. Rivera has also garnered support from noteworthy Canadians such as author activist Naomi Klein, Andy Barrie and Maude Barlow.

If deported, Rivera could face a court martial and up to five years in military prison.

Stone hopes that the day of action will pay off for Rivera and her family.

"I'm hopeful that the minister will let her stay on humanitarian grounds," said Stone.