Conscientious objection

Syrian Kurds arrested and forced into the military

In April, Syrian Kurds who refused “compulsory military service” were arrested by the Kurdish security forces and taken to detention facilities before being transferred to the 'fighting fronts'. Dozens of young men were arrested at checkpoints in the city of Sere Kaniye, in Hasakah province. The controversial conscription law was introduced in mid-2014, and obliges citizens aged between 18 and 30 to join the People's Defence Service (YPG) for six months.


Three conscientious objectors in South Korea found not guilty

A judge in South Korea has unexpectedly found three conscientious objectors not guilty of draft evasion. The three CO's – all Jehovah's Witnesses – were acquitted by Senior Judge Choi, Chang-seok in Gwangju District Court. There are only two other reported cases – in 2004 and 2007 - of a judge finding conscientious objectors in South Korea not guilty of draft evasion, and in both cases the ruling was appealed by the prosecution and ultimately over turned. The prosecution in this case is appealing against the decision.

Strange is the Eritrean story; stranger is the Eritrean women’s story

Luwam Estifanos

Often (far too often) I think about what other people make of our stories, our Eritrean stories. Not the dramatic stories but the typical ordinary ones, the experiences which are familiar to all Eritreans. I am sure our stories of unimaginable pain inflicted unnecessarily by the very people who claim to have liberated us, come across as far too strange to belong to an ordinary life.

Like these stories …

Portraits of men explore conscription and gender in Lithuania

Two women in Lithuania have created a series of photos, exploring the issue of conscription in Lithuania. Tiskevic-Hasanova and Neringa Rekasiute created the photo series after conscription was reintroduced in March 2015. The first call-up took place May 11th, when 2/3 of the 3,000 spaces to be filled were met by volunteers.

Greek CO found guilty of insubordination

In Greece, conscientious objector Dimitris K. Sotiropoulos has been found guilty again of insubordination by a military court, and given a ten month suspended sentence. The nature of the trial was heavily criticised by those in attendance.

Czech Republic to introduce register of military volunteers

In April, The Czech government announced plans to create a register of citizens who would be willing to volunteer for military service. The Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that the move was in response to threats from Islamic State and insecruity in Ukraine, but did not amount to conscription, which was abolished in 2005. The legislation still needs approving by both houses of parliament, where the ruling party has a majority, and signed by the president.

Belarus: Alternative Service Law - "A bad law. But it exists, and that's good."

Belarus has for the first time adopted an Alternative Service Law, to take effect from 1 July 2016. The law will allow some - but not all young men - who are conscientious objectors to perform a civilian alternative service, instead of compulsory military service. However only young men with a religious objection will be eligible to apply, not those with non-religious pacifist convictions. It is also unclear whether even all young men with religious objections to military service will be allowed to do civilian alternative service.

Exemption of the Two COs Mark Nabil and Mostafa Ahmed

On the 20th of May 2015, Egypt’s minister of defense, Sedki Sobhi, issued an executive order to exempt the two Egyptian conscientious Objectors, Mark Nabil Sanad and Mostafa Ahmed El-Saied, permanently from the military service. Both conscientious objectors have been living in a legal limbo for over a year, struggling for recognition as conscientious objectors. The decision of the minister of defense didn’t recognize them as conscientious objectors, but decided to exempt them from the service permanently.

To be a conscientious objector is not a crime: sign and share petition for South Korean COs

Photo: Amnesty International

WRI, Amnesty International, Connection e.V. and World Without War are petitioning the South Korean Defence Minister calling upon his government to immediately and unconditionally release all conscientious objectors; recognise conscientious objection as a human right inherent to the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; make appropriate provision for conscientious objectors to military service; and to clear the criminal records and provide compensation for conscientious objectors who have been imprisoned for refusing military service in the past. You can sign it online here and download a paper version here to print out and take along to your events by Monday 16th November 16th, in order to be submitted to the Minister of National Defence on 1 December, Prisoners for Peace day.


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