Every year on 15th May, we celebrate International Conscientious Objection Day. On this day, we remember and celebrate conscientious objectors' resistance for peace, their refusal to bears arms and take part in war - throughout history and today.
This year, we're focusing on Colombia and standing in solidarity with Colombian conscientious objectors. In recent years, we have seen significant improvements for conscientious objectors in Colombia, both in law and practice. They include a new law regulating conscientious objection (initiated 8 years after the Constitutional Court decision recognising conscientious objection) and a decrease in the amount of batidas, a form of forced-recruitment by the Colombian military. These have all been thanks to the hard work and campaigning of conscientious objectors and their allies in the country for more than 20 years.
Despite these positive developments, there are ongoing problems calling for international solidarity! The new law in question, despite being considered a positive step, falls short of meeting international standards and allows strong military influence over conscientious objectors. In addition, there are increasing concerns over a new form of batidas - forced-recruitment - by the Colombian military. Also, the militaristic approach and policies of the current Colombian government put at risk not only the rights of conscientious objectors but also the peace process between the government and FARC, and make it harder and harder to speak of genuine peace in the country.
Colombian conscientious objectors call for their government to ensure their rights, stop any form of forced-recruitment and make sure that the peace process in the country continues. Read the statement of Colombian conscientious objectors here.
How to take action
Spread the word of Colombian conscientious objectors, read their statement at your local events.
Join or run an event to enable others to take action! This might be a stall outside the Colombian Embassy, a street action to raise awareness (and give out the statement of Colombian conscientious objectors!). Contact us for more ideas!
Post your support on social media using the #SupportColombianCOs.
International Conscientious Objection Day events across different countries
15th May: Justapaz will be running a social media campaigning with the hashtag #YoObjetopor, addressing the Colombian Armed Forces and the Public Ministry to improve legislation on conscientious objectors. They will keep sharing information on the rights of conscientious objectors during the rest of the month.
On 15th May at 9:00 a.m, Justapaz Radio will carry out a radio program on conscientious objection, which will be accessible online here.
15th May: 3pm. A group of peace activists will organise a nonviolent direct action in the centre of Medellin. Find more info here.
18th May: 11:00am-11:45pm. Initiative for Conscientious Objection in Cyprus organises a demonstration, “Conscientious objection law, now!”, in front of the Military Recruitment Centre in North Nicosia. See more here.
16th May: 7:30pm-10:00pm. Amnesty International Greece will organise a panel, including conscientious objectors and peace activists from Cyprus and Greece, as well as an exhibition of peace and anti-war activism photos from around the world. Find more information here.
15th May: 7:00pm-8:00pm. World Without War will hold a public event including an art performance and declarations of conscientious objection. Find more information here.
15th May: 11:00am. Conscientious Objection Association (Turkey) is organising a press conference in Istanbul. Find more details here.
15th May: 5:30pm-7:00pm. The Peace Museum organises a talk exploring the different stories of conscientious objectors. There will also be a special display of artefacts relating to the conscientious objectors to view. Find more information here.
15th May: 5:00pm-6:00pm International Conscientious Objectors Day Vigil hosted by Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, Edinburgh CND and Edinburgh Stop the War. Find more information here.
15th May: 6:00pm-7:00pm. Leicester CND, the Red Leicester Choir and Christian peace groups organise a ceremony at the memorial stone to CO’s from World War 1. Find more information here.
15th May: 1:00pm-2:00pm. International CO Day Ceremony at Tavistock Square, organised by a number of peace organisations. Find more information here.
15th May: 3:00pm-5:00pm. Trident Ploughshares activists organises a protest outside the headquarters of the arms company Lockheed Martin. Find more information here.
15th May: 6:00pm-7:00pm. Women in Black London activists organises a vigil in central London. Find more information here.
15th May: 6:00pm. Haringey First World War Peace Forum will unveil a plaque in honour of Haringey’s 350 Conscientious Objectors. Find more information here.
15th May: Liverpool Peace Network will have a stall and do leafleting during the day at News From Nowwhere bookshop.
15th May: 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm. Quakers and the Friends of Manchester Peace Garden will hold a vigil on the steps of the Friends' Meeting House, Mount Street, central Manchester.
15th May: 7:00pm. The screening of War School hosted by the Oldham Peace & Justice group. 7PM, George Street Chapel, 58 George Street Oldham, OL1 1LS. The event is free - all welcome.
15th May: 12:30 - 1:30pm. Sheffield Creative Action for Peace are holding an event in Sheffield's Peace Gardens and at the Cenotaph. Find more information here.
17th May: 3:00pm-5:00pm. A number of peace organisations from Germany will organise a protest in support of Eritrean conscientious objectors. Find more information here.
New publication by RAMALC
15th May: RAMALC is going to launch the second edition of their magazine "Rompiendo filas" which will be accessible on RAMALC website here.