Welcome to the June/July issue of the co-update e-newsletter. This is a double issue, as next month we will be at the WRI Seminar and Council meeting in Korea (see below), and then are likely to join the G8 protests at Gleneagles in Scotland.
The last month was very hectic regarding issues of conscientious objection, as you can guess from the long list of co-alerts at the end of this newsletter.
Unexpectedly, the situation in Greece worsened in May - new court cases and arrests, and harsh sentences.
Arrest of nonviolent activists and conscientious objectors at trial in Sivas
In May, the situation of imprisoned gay conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan worsened considerably, and War Resisters' International put out several co-alerts on his case, and also set up a special Turkey campaign page - at present in English and German, to respond to the news on abuse and death threats against Mehmet Tarhan.
"It is high time the Greek authorities respect and comply with European and international standards and recommendations and put an end to all prosecutions, imprisonments and violations of the human rights of conscientious objectors" the three international organisations stated today, condemning in the strongest terms the recent wave of sentences against conscientious objectors in Greece.
Following the death of up to 45 conscripts in a snowstorm in the Chilean Andes on 18 May, opposition to military service in Chile is growing. The soldiers - most of them 18- or 19-year-old-conscripts - were ordered into a training march during a blizzard described as the worst snowstorm in 30 years in the mountains 350 miles south of the capital.
After several years of legal batte, the legal case of Israeli conscientious objector finally came to an end today, with the Israeli High Court rejecting Yonathan Ben-Artzi's petition to be recognised as a conscientious objector. After several months in and out of military prison, and a trial that laster for almost one year, Yonathan Ben-Artzi was found guilty of refusing to enlist, but was not sent to prison again so far (see WRI's report "Conscience on Trial", February 2004).
In the previous month, the WRI office issued the following co-alerts:
(a full archive of co-alerts is available at wri-irg.org/news/alerts)
TURKEY: All arrested activists released / 4th CO briefly arrested 27/05/05
URGENT UPDATE: FEAR OF TORTURE: 10 activists arrested at CO trial / Mehmet Tarhan on hunger strike 26/05/05
TURKEY: 13 arrests at trial of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan /
In cooperation with several partner organisations from South Korea, War Resisters' International is preparing for its 2005 seminar and Council meeting, which will take place near Seoul at the end of June / beginning of July 2005. The theme of the seminar will be "Peace in North-East Asia".