Good news for a change from Turkey: on 9 March, Turkish gay conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan was unexpectedly released from military prison in Sivas, following an order by the Military Court of Appeal in Ankara. The reasons are still not known, but one of the reasons given is that even if finally sentenced, Mehmet Tarhan would unlikely need to serve more time in prison than he already had (he was arrested on 6 April 2005, and has spent almost one year in prison).
The Supreme Court of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided on 20 February on the constitutionality of pre-military education in Venezuelan schools. Students of the last two years of higher education have to participate in pre--military education as part of the curriculum, based on Article 71 of the Military Service Law (Ley de conscripción y alistamiento militar). The Venezuelan human rights organisation PROVEA brought a case to the Supreme Court, which was first decided in June 2005.
War Resisters' International released a report to the United Nations' Human Rights Committee in March 2006, highlighting "issues of conscience and human rights" in relation to the US Armed Forces. The report forms part of WRI's activities in preparation for 15 May 2006 - International Conscientious Objectors' Day - which focuses on US COs and resisters (see "upcoming events").
On 30 March, CO Baltoukas was declared innocent unanimously by the Appeal Military Court at Thessaloniki. Nikolaos Baltoukas, 38, had been sentenced to a suspended 15-month for insubordination by the Military Court of Xanthi on 18 May 2005. Nikos Baltoukas, had performed his military service in 1990-91. When he was called up for reserve duty on 31 October 2004, he refused to report, based on reasons of conscience.
Operation Refuse War
15 May - International Conscientious Objectors Day
Focus on US resisters and GIs
From May 11th to 16th, an international group of conscientious objectors will gather in New York City and Washington, DC for Operation Refuse War, a week of conferences, demonstrations, and actions in celebration of International Conscientious Objectors Day, May 15th.