Conscientious objection

Turkey: CO sentenced to 15 months and temporary conscription buy-out introduced

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A military court in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas has sentenced conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan, to 15 months in jail. The verdict was transformed to a fine of 9,000 Turkish Liras, for “failing to obey orders.” Mehmet is appealing the verdict Mehmet's struggle against the Turkish military has been running for over a decade.

The verdict disregards a previous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in which they found on a violation of article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and in addition of article 3 (prohibition of torture or inhuman treatment) of the Convention. The Court ruled that the heavy criminal sanctions imposed on those who did not comply with compulsory military service did not strike a proper balance between the general interest of society and that of conscientious objectors.

Introducing the handbook for conscientious objection

This year, WRI will publish a new handbook for conscientious objection. It's inspired by our Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns, designed by activists for activists, sharing experiences, strategies and inspiration for using conscientious objection as a nonviolent strategy against militarism. Rather than an academic text, it is meant to help CO movements in their campaigns.

Production of the book is being coordinated by Elisa Haf, a Quaker Peace and Social Witness Peaceworker based at WRI (and Forces Watch, whose offices are in the same building as us) for a year. It is being authored by over 30 contributors from Latin America, Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Positive constitutional court decision in Colombia for COs

Campaigners in Colombia have been boosted by a new ruling from the Constitutional Court. In a case brought by two conscientious objectors (COs) who had been forcibly recruited into the military, in January the Court ordered the National Recruitment Office to: resolve applications for CO within 15 days; to publish a booklet that notifies youth of their grounds for exemption, deferral, and their right to CO; and to end the practices of arbitrary detention, including batidas (recruitment raids, usually in public spaces).

Communication No. 2179/2012

United Nations


Distr.: General

14 January 2015


Original: English

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

International Conscientious Objection Day 2015

Start date: 
15 May 2015

Every year, 15th May is International Conscientious Objection day.

Around the world campaigners will be remembering the generations who refused to go to war, and raising awareness of the many who continue to be persecuted and imprisoned for refusing to kill and be part of military structures.

Please join an event (they will be listed here nearer the time), hold your own, and spread the word about the day!

Petition to End Finnish Conscription and Imprisonment of Conscientious Objectors

Sign the petition

Call of action for Avaaz network to end conscription in Finland and in support of freedom for conscientious objectors.

Finland is one of the last remaining countries in Europe that still has conscription. Finnish society and national culture are very militaristic and conscription is upheld primarily because of militaristic values and traditions. Even the armed forces admit they don't need all the conscripts and the size of reserve forces was cut by about 1/3, from 350 000 to 230 000 active reserve troops [Ministry of Defence, Finnish Army].

EBCO REPORT: Conscientious objection to military service in Europe 2014

Istanbul, October 2014, Researcher: Derek Brett
The researching of this report was enabled by a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, York, UK.

FOREWORD by Friedhelm Schneider, EBCO President
In 2014 we are looking back to numerous commemoration events which – often in a military-centered perspective – focus on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection and its member organisations have been involved in a series of activities, exhibitions etc. which draw the public attention to those who resisted war and to the history of the peace movement over the following century. Moreover there were other anniversaries, such as the beginning of World War II and the conscientious objectors and deserters related to it. EBCO’s spring meeting in Brussels was marked by the 50 years of the recognition of conscientious objection in Belgium, the leading person of which had been EBCO’s former President Jean van Lierde.

Solidarity protests held for conscientious objector Haluk Selam Tufanlı

Conscientious objector Haluk Selam Tufanlı was imprisoned on 4th December in northern Cyprus for refusing to undertake reserve military service. International actions were held on Tuesday 9th December 2014 in Athens, Istanbul, Nicossia and London. See photos from all the actions here. The Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus said 'In the northern part of Cyprus, the military service and annual reserve army practice are compulsory for male citizens above 18. The militarization of the island is not limited to the compulsory army service and reserve service; the civilians are being tried at the military court, the police is under the control of the Turkish army, there are lessons taught by soldiers in schools, and the cities and rural areas are under the direct physical invasion of the Turkish army which is ongoing for the last 40 years.'


Detener batidas: comunicado de la Internacional de Resistentes a la Guerra a la Defensora del Pueblo Regional Antioquia

Carta de la Internacional de Resistentes a la Guerra (IRG) a Defensoria y Personaria de Antioquia y Medellín, diciembre 2014


La Internacional de Resistentes a la Guerra (IRG) trabaja por un mundo sin guerras. Somos una red global antimilitarista y pacifista, con más de ochenta organizaciones en más de cuarenta países. Desde 1921 apoyamos y conectamos la gente del todo el mundo que se niega a participar en la guerra y que usa la acción noviolenta para abordar las causas de la guerra. Mantenemos el compromiso con nuestro principio fundacional de que la guerra es un crimen contra la humanidad. La International de Resistentes a la Guerra tiene estatus consultivo en el Consejo Económico y Social de las Naciones Unidas.

9 December 2014: Solidarity with Haluk Selam Tufanlı: events in Athens, Istanbul, Nicossia, London

Conscientious objector Haluk Selam Tufanlı has been imprisoned in northern Cyprus for refusing to undertake reserve military service. International actions were held on Tuesday 9th December 2014, in Athens, Istanbul, Nicossia and London.


You can also protest in writing to the authorities in Northern Cyprus. Find all the details here (including an email alert): NORTHERN CYPRUS: Haluk Selam Tufanlı imprisoned

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