Conscientious objection

Two Conscientious Objectors, Polen Ünlü and Alper Sapan, were murdered in the Suruç massacre

Polen ÜnlüPolen ÜnlüStatement from WRI affiliate Vicdani Ret Derneği

On 20th of July, many young people from different cities took the road for the re-construction of Kobanê which is the city that has been resisting against the attacks of ISIS for several months. Those young people wanted to re-build the city which was destroyed by war and bring life back to the children who are sentenced to death in the pillaged land. Alper SapanAlper Sapan

But they could not success. Everlasting war policy turned to a bomb and exploded right at the middle of the crowd of young people who were resisting to build the peace. Tens of people lost their lives and hundreds of them were injured.

One of those young people who had lost her life is Polen Ünlü who declared her conscientious objection in 2012 by saying “That war does not murder only men, but it murders women as well.” Alper Sapan is also one of those young people who had murdered in the massacre, and also one of conscientious objectors who declared his conscientious objection in May 2014 by saying “For the world where there is no war, no nation, no border; for freedom, I am listening to my heart and rejecting the military service.”

Solidarity with those killed in Suruç

Related peace activists: 

Alper SapanAlper SapanYesterday's attack against civilians in the southern Turkish town of Suruç killed dozens of people. Conscientious objectors Alper Sapan and Polen Ünlü  were amongst those killed. In solidarity and respect, we share news from WRI member Merve Arkun:

Two of our CO friends were murdered by a suicide bomb attack that has happened in Pirsus (Suruç, Urfa, Turkey), today.

More than 31 Polen ÜnlüPolen Ünlüpeople travelling to Kobanê to support resistance against ISIS have died. At least 100 were heavily wounded.

Here is his Alper Sapan's CO declaration:
I am Alper Sapan. I am an anarchist who 19 years old. I am against the injustice, exploitation and oppression of the state. I am rejecting violence and the state. I am listening to the voice of my conscience and objecting the military system for a world that no borders, no wars and no nations. I will not die, I will not kill for anybody and will not be anybody's soldier.

Before militarism ends our lives let's end militarism.

Information about Polen Ünlü is still being translated into English. You can find information in Turkish here.

via Vicdani Ret Derneği (Conscientious Objection Association)

Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea

Read the submission from the European Union here.


24 June 2015

Concludes Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea

The Human Rights Council this morning discussed the situation of human rights in Eritrea, holding an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, and concluding its interactive dialogue with the Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea.

Watershed Moment for Finnish Conscription

In Finland, conscription is among the most glorified institutions of the state among the people. For most of last decade polls have shown about 70 % support for keeping conscription, and none of the major political parties want to abolish it. In the beginning of 2015 the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces made a decision to cut the reserve by about a third, to 230,000 people, opening for the first time the chance to look for alternatives to mandatory conscription. The state faces broad international criticism for not respecting the rights of conscientious objectors.

Two Ukrainian students in Spain called to fight

Antimilitarists in Spain have spoken out in solidarity with young Ukrainian's studying in the country, who have been recalled to fight by the Ukrainian government. Alternativa Antimilitarista.MOC Madrid has called on the Spanish government to protect six young Ukrainian on a study trip in Spain, after two young people recieved letters from the Ukrainian government in February, calling them up to military service. The students currently have to return to Ukraine every year to renew their permit. The organising group - Asociación de Asistencia a la Infancia de Aragón – has been organising such trips since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and is looking for ways to extend the young people's stay in Spain for several years.

Two COs in Egypt exempted from the military

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.


Our CO-Update this month is a reminder that, as we work together as an international movement against war, the repercussions of resistance to militarism is often felt by individuals refusing to fight. Our Finnish friends have written of the history of the movement in Finland where resistance to conscription began, in some form, in 1901.

The New Absolutist

"The New Absolutist" by Suzanne Williams forms a chapter in CJ Hinke's new book about war resisters in prison, forthcoming from Trine-Day in Spring 2016. (He welcomes suggestion for a title!). CJ was the last person arrested for the Vietnam draft and lives in Thailand where he has co-founded the Nonviolent Conflict Workshop (NVCW) to teach the tactics of Gene Sharp and develop new ones. See

By Suzanne Williams

[Editor’s Note. Suzanne Williams was born on November 4, 1943 in Evanston, Illinois. On September 11, 1968, she was arrested for “damage to government property” and defended herself before the Federal District Court in Boston. She was sentenced to six months to six years indeterminate under the Youth Corrections Act for pouring black paint over the files of Selective Service System Local Board #30 in the Customs House in Boston. Suzi acted with poet/activist Francis Thomas (Assunta) Femia, a former Catholic brother.

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.

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