Recent CO Action alerts

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The CO-Alert email list is specifically for alerts in cases of conscientious objection or antimilitarist action. CO-Alerts are sent out by email as soon as the WRI office receives information on the imprisonment or trial of a conscientious objector, are a powerful tool to mobilise support and protest. We provide an email contact form, so you can quickly and simply contact the authorities, in support of a nonviolent activist who is facing repression.

In many countries, prison is still the fate of conscientious objectors (COs). Thousands of COs are still in prison -- in South Korea, Israel, Finland, Colombia, and many other countries. Despite many countries having introduced laws on conscientious objection, many COs still face imprisonment, because they either don't fit into the authorities' criteria, or they refuse to perform any substitute service. War Resisters' International supports conscientious objectors who are imprisoned because of their conscientious objection, or face repression by the state or state-like entities.

If you have information about a CO who is facing persecution, a CO-Alert may be a good tool for you to use in their support. Read our 'Guidelines for making use of WRI's email alert system for conscientious objectors', and get in touch with us.

Subscribe to receive CO-alerts through our mailing list info page.

Greek Conscientious objector Giorgios Monastiriotis, the first professional soldier who refused to be sent to the Persian Gulf in May 2003, was arrested on Monday, 13 September 2004, and immediately tried and sentenced. In May 2003 Giorgos Monstaritiotis joined the Greek Navy on a 5 years contract, refused to embark with the crew of the battleship "Navarino" on a mission to the Persian Gulf. He declared his immediate resignation from the Navy instead. The Navarino was sailing to the Persian Gulf as part of operation "Enduring Freedom".

On 7 September 2004, the Loviisa district court sentenced total objector P. V. to 181 days of unconditional imprisonment for refusing to perform substitute service. P. V. had performed the 1-month induction period for substitute service for conscientious objectors back in 1997, but declared in April 2004 that he refuses to perform the rest of his substitute service. V. states that military service had never been an option for him because of his anti-war conviction.

On Wednesday 1 September 2004, Eyal Nahum (ISR14592) was sentenced to 28 days in prison for refusing to perform reserve duty in the Occupied Territories. He is serving his prison term in Military Prison 4. He is due to be released on 27 September 2004.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to Israeli authorities, and Israeli embassies abroad. An email letter can be sent at http://www.wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20040906a.html.

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Eyal Nahum and all imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Andreas Speck

On Monday 23 August, Israeli women CO Laura Milo went to prison for her second prison term of 14 days, after the Israeli Supreme Court rejected her petition to be granted exemption from military service for reasons of conscience on 9 August.

In an open letter published in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on 23 August - the day she went to prison - Lauro Milo writes:

Last week conscientious objector Daniel Tsal (ISR14204) was again sentenced to 28 days in military prison - his fifth consecutive prison term for refusing to enlist. Before being imprisoned Tsal was summoned to a meeting with the commandant of the Army's Induction Centre at Tel Ha'shomer, who implored him to recant and join the army - and threatened that, since Tsal was "a political refuser", his continued refusal would result in "a long prison term".

While the parole board reduced the sentences of "the Five" (only 1/4th compated to the usual 1/3rd), and they are now due to be released on 15 September, new conscientious objectors were sent to prison recently.

Chaim Feldman (ISR13182), who already spent 21 days in prison in 2003, was sentenced to 28 days in Military Prison No 4 on 12 July 2004. In a letter to his commander he wrote: "Shalom,

On Monday, 7 June, Daniel Tsal (ISR14204) was sentenced to his third prison term, for refusing to enlist. Daniel Tsal informed the minister of defense of his refusal to enlist in the IDF five months ago: he objects to cooperate with an army that controls and oppresses. The army's "conscience committee", however, rejected his request to appear before it.

On Monday, 31st May, total objector Juha Lehtonen (21) started his prison sentence of 197 days. Juha Lehtonen was sentenced in March 2004 for refusing to do military or substitute service. In a statement on his total objection Juha Lehtonen wrote that he cannot accept violent institutions like the military. He was not prepared to do substitute service either, because the right to conscientious objection is only recognised in peacetime, the length of substitute service is punitive (twice as much as military service), and substitute service is not a real alternative to military service.

On Friday, 21 May 2004, US Army National Guard staff sergeant Camilo Mejia was sentenced to one year in prison, reduction in rank to E-1, forfeiture of 2/3 pay for one year, and a bad conduct discharge, by a special court martial at Fort Steward. Camilo Mejia had been charged with desertion, although he applied for conscientious objector status.

US National Guard Staff Sargeant Camilo Mejia, 28, is presently held at Ft. Stewart in the US state of Georgia, on charges of desertion. Camilo Mejia fought in Iraq, serving with a unit that crossed into Iraq just after the invasion. He went on to fight in the counterinsurgency war in the Sunni Triangle for five months. There he was in firefights, killed people, almost got killed, helped torture prisoners and finally had his life saved by a small-scale mutiny. He then returned to the USA for rest and recreation. During this time he turned conscientious objector.

On 8 March, Finnish total objector Aleksi Uski started to serve 192 days in prison for refusing to serve military or substitute service. Aleksi Uski's refusal is based on his anarchist-pacifist world view. He considers the conscription system as foolish and therefore does not accept any substitute civilian service as part of it. Although Finland has a law on conscientious objection, this law requires from any conscientious objector to perform a substitute service which is more than twice as long as military service, and therefore has to be considered as punitive.

Three women COs are presently serving prison terms in Israeli military prisons.

Inbal Gelbert (ISR13820) began her fourth term of 14 days on 29 February 2004. Inbal Gelbert already spent time in prison in November 2003 (see http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/21112003b.html), after her request to be exempted for reasons of conscience was turned down by the Conscience Committee. Inbal Gelbert, a pacifist, was then ordered to enlist, and refused. She was also rejected by the Incompatibility Committee. She is expected to be released on 12 March 2004.

On 12 December 2003, South Korean conscientious objector stood trial on charges of desertion. From the trial it has to be feared that the sentence will be heavy. Cheol-min Kang, a conscript, did not return to his military unit after holidays, and declared his conscientious objection in protest against the deployment of South Korean troops in Iraq on 21 November 2003 (see http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/21112003c.html). He was subsequently arrested on 28 November 2003 (see http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/20031201a.html).

Serbian conscientious objector Nikola Kovacevic was released from prison on 12 December 2003. Nikola Kovacevic has been arrested on 5 December for deserting from unarmed service in the military (see http://wri-irg.org/news/htdocs/20031205a.html). He stood trial in the morning of 12 December, and was sentenced to 3 months suspended sentence, suspended for one year. Nikola Kovacevic applied for conscientious objection back in May 2003, but was called up for unarmed service within the military. He began his service, but refused certain duties.