Editorial

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The struggle of individual conscientious objectors is often a long one, rather than a short term campaign. This is very much the case in Turkey, where Mehmet Tarhan, who first declared his conscientious objection in 2001, and whose first detention was ten years ago, has been fined 9,000 Turkish Liras, for "failing to obey orders."

In Turkey the implications for the life of COs is known as 'civil death'. In Colombia also, the implicatons of being a CO are wide-ranging, impacting your personal, social, political, professional and economic life. Thankfully, some of those repercussions have been lessened in recent months, with the granting of a degree to a conscientious objector in February (previously, a student without a libreta miltar - the card you receive on completion of conscription - could not graduate from university). In January, a constitutional court ruling in Colombia also seriously boosted chances of batidas (forced recruitment raids, usually in public spaces) halting in the near future. The army has to report within six month regarding implementation of the full ruling. Read more here.

'Emergency' military conscription has begun in Ukraine, and levels of draft evasion has become a contested issue, used in propaganda by the Ukrainian and Russian governments. Conscription has also been reintroduced in Lithuania, purportedly as a reaction to a perceived threat from the Russian government.

Following on from December's CO Update, the remaining CO detained in Turkmenistan's labour camps has been released, and the decision of the European Court of Justice in the case of U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd was less positive than we had hoped.

WRI exists to link people together in their struggle for a demilitarised world. A new project - a handbook for conscientious objector movements - designed by activists for activists, will share experiences, strategies and inspiration for using conscientious objection as a nonviolent strategy against militarism. It will be available from July onwards.

We also introduce Semih Sapmaz, new staff member working especially on youth militarisation.

As part of your solidarity for CO movements, please consider signing an online petition from the Union of Conscientious Objectors in Finland against conscription and for CO rights.

Finally, a reminder that these CO Updates are only as good as our information, which we gain from many sources. If you have news of conscription of CO movements, send it to hannah@wri-irg.org.

Hannah Brock

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