On Thursday 17th January, War Resisters' International, a global network of pacifist organisations based in London, will pay taxes that have been withheld for five years, under protest to HM Revenue and Customs.
Since 2007, War Resisters' International has been withholding a proportion of PAYE as a form of protest against Britain's military policies - the high level of military spending, the cooperation with criminal programmes such as the "rendition" of suspects, spurious rationales for military intervention, and the development and manufacture weapons of mass destruction and drones for long-distance assassination.
"At a time of crisis", said WRI chairperson Howard Clark, "most people detest tax evasion and want to defend public spending to meet social needs. We too. We have not evaded taxes, but openly withhold them as a public protest against government lies and disregard for international norms in its participation in military intervention."
As pacifists, WRI believe that war is a crime against humanity, and are determined not to support any kind of war. Every year, around 10% of the UK's tax goes to fund war and preparations for war. "As an organisation employing pacifists and working for the right to conscientious objection to militarism, the WRI Executive Committee has tried to grant our employees the option to object to war taxes," explained Howard Clark.
WRI have been threatened with legal action various times, and on Saturday 19th January, bailiffs contracted by HMRC will enter WRI's offices and confiscate computers, printers and other equipment that will make it impossible to continue working. Therefore on Thursday 17th January, WRI will pay this debt under protest, in person and in cash, at the Headquarters of HM Revenue and Customs in Parliament Street.
Notes for Editors
- War Resisters' International works for a world without war. We are a global pacifist and antimilitarist network, with over eighty member organisations in over forty countries. Since 1921 we have been supporting and connecting people around the world who refuse to take part in war, and who use nonviolent action to tackle war's causes. We remain committed to our founding principle that all war is a crime against humanity.
- In 2011, the UK's military spending was £39 billion. This has risen almost 20% since 2002 1. This puts the UK fourth in a country list of military expenditure – above Saudi Arabia, France, Germany and Brazil.
- Check photos of the action at http://wri-irg.org/node/21061
1 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook 2011 - The 15 countries with the highest military expenditure in 2011