Conscientious objection

No to Equality in Militarism!

Statement of the feminist collective TO MOV (Greece) co-signed by the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors

At a time when the democratic demand is the abolition of compulsory military service, the ministry of Defense, on the contrary, seems to wish the extension of this service to women.

According to publications, a new bill is prepared for the foundation of military secondary schools (lycea) in which all those planning to follow military or police professions will enrol, and also the women enrolling such lycea will have to subsequently perform “voluntary” military service, in order to be eligible for exams in the respective academies. We are faced with a proposal for radical and reactionary reform of the education system in the second grade, which must not pass. What does the Minister of Education say? Does the Minister of Defense decide alone for his own ministry? On what right?

Turkey: CO Yannis Vasilis Yaylali sentenced to seven months for "alienating people from military service"

Related peace activists: 

Yannis Vasilis YaylaliYannis Vasilis YaylaliOn 6 January 2016, conscientious objector Yannis Vasilis Yaylali was sentenced to 7 months and 15 days of prison penalty, for his articles that defend conscientious objection and oppose the war going on in Kurdish regions. The custodial sentence can only begin after the decision of court of appeal, so he is not in prison yet. He was found guilty of flouting the infamous Article 318 of the Turkish penal code: alienating people from military service. He has two more prosecutions with the same accusation.

Yannis made a statement after the decision:

"Article 318 was rarely used in the last years, until the war began again last year. The state is increasing its pressure to all war resisters, anti-militarists and conscientious objectors in the times of war. They're trying to silence us but we won't give in."

Speaking tour: Israeli conscientious objector speaking in Britain

Israeli conscientious objector Taya Govreen-Segal, currently interning in the WRI office in London, is speaking at various events over the coming weeks around Britain.

Events include: 30th January - Palestine day in Portsmouth, 1st February - Glasgow; 2nd February - Edinburgh; 5th February - Godalming; 13th February -  %20">Britain and Palestine Conference, Sailsbury (talk on the Israeli arms trade).

See more info here.

Take Action: Support Chaw Sandi Tun from Myanmar and Tair Kaminer from Israel with your emails!

This month we are calling for your support for two prisoners of conscience: Burmese activist Chaw Sandi Tun and Israeli activist Tair Kaminer. Chaw Sandi Tun has been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in connection with a Facebook post mocking the army. She was arrested in Yangon and transferred to Maubin prison, where she remains behind bars. Support Chaw Sandi via your protest email here.

Tair Kaminer, 19-year-old activist from Israel, has been imprisoned for 20 days for her refusal to join the Israeli military this month. Support Tair via your protest email here.

Factsheet on conscientious objection from the European Court of Human Rights

Published September 2015 - download here.

A factsheet hsa been published covering case law within the European Court of Human Rights and Selection of cases pending before the Court, relating to conscientious objection to military service.

Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of the Republic of Korea

* Adopted by the Committee at its 115th session (19 October–6 November 2015)

C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations

Views under the Optional Protocol

6. The Committee remains concerned about the absence of a specific mechanism to implement the Committee’s Views under the Optional Protocol In particular, the Committee notes with concern that the State party has, except in one case, failed to implement the Committee’s Views, notably the numerous cases concerning conscientious objection (art. 2).

7. The State party should establish mechanisms and appropriate procedures to give full effect to the Committee’s Views so as to guarantee effective remedies in all cases of violations against the Covenant It should also fully implement the Views the Committee has issued so far.

Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Austria*

* Adopted by the Committee at its 115th session (19 October–6 November 2015).

Freedom of conscience and religious belief

33. The Committee notes that the length of the civilian alternative service to military service for conscientious objectors is longer than military service and may be punitively long if not based on reasonable and objective grounds (arts. 18 and 26).

32. The State party is encouraged to ensure that the length of service alternative to military service required for conscientious objectors is not punitive in nature.

Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements - now available online!

Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements is now available online here.

You can also buy a paperback version.

This book is intended as a practical companion for conscientious objection movements and all those whose work forms part of the continuum of war resistance. 

It has been written by activists who are campaigning against all kinds of injustice, all over the world.  Learning from the lived experience of these activists, the aim is to help movements work together, surmount the external challenges they face, and enhance the concept of conscientious objection, using it in new and innovative ways - such as against war profiteering, or the militarisation of youth.  The book also has a specific focus on gender, and the often invisible role of gender, both in the war machine, and in the movements which oppose it. 

To read this book is to be encouraged, not just to notice gender and the other power structures upholding militarism, but to actively work to undermine them - and in doing so, to start dismantling militarism itself.

Refusing Violence, Fighting All Injustice, and Creating Alternatives: conscientious objection in wider nonviolent struggles

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Laura Pollecutt is a long term activist and writer.  She has been both volunteer and staff member for a number of human rights and peace organisations during apartheid and in the new dispensation – South Africa's post-apartheid state.  Together, she and Hannah Brock write about conscientious objection in wider nonviolent struggles.1

'Conscientious objection is not "opting out".  It is an effort to stimulate a new social imagination and a revolutionary mentality that does not normalise violence'.
Howard Clark, 20102

The conscientious objector movements we have been speaking of in this volume are largely antimilitarist, nonviolent and progressive.  That is to say, their conscientious objection is not an end in itself, but is part of a struggle for a different world.

Building the Alternative

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Hannah Brock details some of the 'constructive programmes' which conscientious objection movements have historically developed as alternatives to militarist 'solutions' for social problems.1

Antimilitarist conscientious objection is only part of a journey towards a demilitarised communal life, and many conscientious objection groups endeavour to create that world in the shell of this one.

This can happen both in terms of how the groups organise internally: how they make decisions, what actions they take and their membership.  This might include using consensus decision making, using nonviolent language, ensuring a diversity of gender identities are affirmed, etc.  These are all outward expressions of the internal political approach of the group.  These expressions can also happen in a more public and external way, by initiating activities that productively work outside the violence of the current system as far as possible: showing how it can be done. Gandhians would call such initiatives 'constructive programmes'.

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