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06 Jan 2017
English

Lee Sangmin

Lee Sangmin speaking at a press conference, declaring his conscientious objectionLee Sangmin speaking at a press conference, declaring his conscientious objectionSometimes I dream about the past. Usually, I don't dream about positive experiences, just days I regret and memories I want to run away from. Memories remains an unconscious pressure, and come to me often in my dreams. It smells like a scent of dirt just before raining. I also dream about the future that never came. In the worst case scenario, the very situations I want to avoid appear in my dreams. I always breath a sigh when I wake up, and I’m glad they didn’t happen to me in real life.

What is the worst thing that can happen to me while in prison? For prisoners, the most anticipated thing is being released. I believe that most prisoners hope to get an early release through parole, by being a model prisoner. In a horrible place where I cannot even open the door, I cannot get out of the day and see the outside air and the landscape beyond 4 meters of the wall, sharing love with my beloved, smiling with my friends and family. I feel my heart beating so fast by imagining these things. At the same time, it is frustrating that this reality, these good things, are not available to me right now. If the scheduled parole is cancelled, it will be a terrible thing. Only three month left I have to spend. But those short days keep dragging on.

06 Jan 2017
English

Tamar Alon, Atalya Ben Abba and Tamar Ze'evi are facing repeated imprisonment for refusing to serve the Israeli occupation. On 1st December, Mesarvot (a network supporting political refusal and conscientious objectors) called an international a day of action to support them.

Outside the office of arms manufacturers Lockheed Martin, LondonOutside the office of arms manufacturers Lockheed Martin, London

Vigils took place outside arms manufacturing facilities and other locations calling on governments to stop arming the Israeli occupation rather than profiting from it. the day of action highlighted that as young people in Israel are refusing to serve the occupation, we should refuse to profit from it. Because as long as Europe trades with the Israeli weapon industry - the occupation will continue. As long as the US continue to arm Israel and buy its weapons - young Israelis will continue to be imprisoned for refusing to aim these weapons toward civilians.

06 Jan 2017
English
We publish a statement from the Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association - Addameer which puts the arrest and detention of Palestinians in 2016 in the context of wider human rights abuses of Palestinians. Download the report as a pdf here.
 
07 December 2016

Image: AddameerImage: AddameerThis year, Palestinians commemorate International Human Rights Day mourning over 266 Palestinians including 76 children who were killed by Israeli Occupation Forces since October 2015. Palestinians mark this day following over a year of nonstop violence and widespread human rights violations by Israeli Occupation Forces against the Palestinian population used as a form of collective punishment and a method of control of Palestinian society. These consistent and systematic policies by the occupation include, mass arrests campaigns, torture, hunger strikes, extrajudicial executions and issuance of discriminatory legislations.

06 Jan 2017
English

(Image: Smoke and Prison Cell via Shutterstock; Edited: LW / TO)(Image: Smoke and Prison Cell via Shutterstock; Edited: LW / TO)

YaliniDream

A longer version of this article was first published on TruthOut.org - thanks to Sarah Robinson for abridging

Multiple letters from Mount Olive Correctional Complex (MOCC) in West Virginia, report at least 5-7 imprisoned people are sprayed by tear gas, pepper spray or other chemical agents each week.  First-hand testimonies refer to the guards' lax references to the frequent use of these chemicals as "bug spray."

One person reports getting sprayed after kicking a door and breaking a window because guards ignored his emergency call button. He had not received his diabetic snack bag, which he had been requesting for four hours. In a letter he writes to the War Resisters League he describes that, "I have severe hypoglycemia at nighttime which can result in my death… they opened the beanhole and used a canister of OC [oleoresin capsicum gas] spray on my stomach and testicles intentionally!" OC spray, commonly referred to as pepper spray, is derived from capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers. According to his letter, the spray dispersed to the top tier of the ventilation system impacting at least seven others imprisoned in the MOCC.

04 Jan 2017
English

When we think of social change, we often think of protests, campaigns, and direct action. These are all vital ways to say “no!” to destructive practices and institutions.

Permaculture farmers in El SalvadorPermaculture farmers in El Salvador

However, it's equally important that we are building concrete alternatives, where we say “yes!” to the vision of the world we want. Built on the same power analysis as our nonviolent direct action, “constructive programmes” can be powerful acts of resistance. Constructive programmes demonstrate the radical alternatives – to militarism and the causes of climate change, for example – that our world desperately needs, and puts them into practise in the here and now.

For Gandhi, a nonviolent revolution without a constructive programme was impossible; direct action and social change had to be embedded in empowered and vibrant communities that were bringing their own radical and egalitarian visions of life. Along with protest and direct action, he called for communities in India to start building the world they wanted to see, to build a new world in the shell of the old.

30 Dec 2016
English

In this year's final CO Update, we're glad to share with you a number of good news from different countries.

21 Dec 2016
English

On July 13, 2016, non-governmental organisations in Venezuela filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice for the partial annulment of the Law of Registration and Enlistment for the Integral Defence of the Nation, which establishes an obligation to enroll on the Military Register, on grounds of unconstitutionality.

The judicial action sought to reverse the unconstitutional ramifications of the law, which limits Venezuelans' right to free self-development, equality before the law and freedom of conscience and association, as well as affecting rights to work and education.

19 Dec 2016
English

Here is a satire video by activists from Colombia, mocking a TV show in which obligatory military service and the “libreta militar” (which people are given when they complete miltiary service) is promoted strongly.

This video was made in response and dissent of this promotion, which was broadcast on 28 July 2016 on Personeria TV.

 

19 Dec 2016
English

During a War Resisters' International trip to Thailand last month we met Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a conscientious objector. Here's a short interview by WRI staff member Hannah Brock, talking with Netiwit about conscription and the role of the army in Thailand.

Make sure 'CC' is on if you want subtitles (in English).

19 Dec 2016
English

The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) launched its Annual Report 2016 on Conscientious Objection in Europe on last month n Athens, Greece. The report edited by Derek Brett and researched by Martina Lucia Lanza, was presented with the participation of activists and representatives from countries including Cyprus, Greece, Finland and Turkey.

14 Dec 2016
English

Activists in front of the White House in Washington DC. Photo by Chase CarterActivists in front of the White House in Washington DC. Photo by Chase CarterOn 1st December Prisoners for Peace day this year, actions took place across many different countries in solidarity with Israili conscientious objectors Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze'evi, who were imprisoned for refusing to be part of the occupation and to serve in the Israeli army.

14 Dec 2016
English

The appeal court of the Gwangju Distrct in Korea, overturned the guilty verdicts of two conscientious objectors, Cho Rak-hoon and Kim Hyung-geun. The decision is a victory for conscientious objectors in Korea as it is the first time an appeal court has reversed guilty verdicts in a conscientious objectors case. The appeal court also rejected prosecutors’ calls to convict a third conscientious objector, Kim Hye-min, who was found not guilty at his initial trial in May 2015.

14 Dec 2016
English

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in favour of Leonidas Papavasilakis, a conscientious objector who the Greek government refused to recognise, in its Chamber judgement on 15th September 2016.

The court found that the authorities had violated article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights (which provides a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion).

14 Dec 2016
English

Refuser Tair Kaminer has been exempted from the army for 'bad behaviour'. We say: if everyone 'behaved badly' in this way, the world would be a much safer place!

Tair spent over 150 days in prison for her refusal.

14 Dec 2016
English

Roslan Kotsaba, a journalist from Ukraine who was earlier charged with high treason for his refusal to military draft, and held in detention for more than 15 months, was released on 14th July following the order of the Court of Appeal in Ivano-Frankivsk region. 

14 Dec 2016
English

 

In November this year, Georgia’s Minister of Defence, Levan Izoria, announced the re-encatment of compulsory military service at the country's Ministry of Defence (MoD), after being abolished several months ago by the former Minister Tina Khidasheli. Minister Izoria also stated that, restoring the compulsory military service, its implementation will include some changes.

13 Dec 2016
English

Artur Avanesyan, a twenty-year-old Jehovah’s Witnesses, is serving a 30-month sentence in the Shushi prison colony of Nagorno-Karabakh despite his willingness to perform alternative civilian service. As reported by Human Rights Without Frontiers International, the courts of Nagorno-Karabakh, on all levels, have denied his fundamental right of conscientious objection to military service.

In his statement Avanesyan says “My conscience doesn’t permit me to perform military service. I love my neighbor, and I do not want to take up arms or even learn to harm anyone.”

13 Dec 2016
English

Six conscientious objectors – all of them Jehovah's Witnesses refusing to be conscripted on grounds of conscience– have been reported to be convicted and sentenced in Turkmenistan so far in 2016 . Five of the COs were sentenced to two-year suspended prison terms for their refusal to compulsory military service , and a sixth received a one-year corrective labour sentence , where he lives at home under restrictions and a fifth of his wages are seized.

13 Dec 2016
English

A new law on alternative civilian service was put into force in Belarus in June 2016. With the new law 10,000 young Belarusian men to be drafted this fall will be able to apply for exercising alternative civilian service, or ‘alternativschiki’.

13 Dec 2016
English

Chris Antal, a former Reserve Chaplain Captain at the U.S. Army, has resigned due to his refusal to support the U.S. armed drone policy. In his resignation letter to President Obama Antal wrote:

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