This is the fourth issue of our CO Update e-newsletter, and it is a few days early - for two reasons.
Firstly, this issue will give you some updates on Prisoners for Peace Day 2004, with a focus on conscientious objection in Finland.
Secondly, there are very pragmatic reasons: as part of War Resisters' International's activities for Prisoners for Peace Day, the editor of this newsletter will be visiting Finland, and will meet with CO activists and parliamentarians, to disc
Imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Finland
The focus of Prisoners for Peace Day 2004 is the imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Finland. Finland, a member state of the European Union, continues to imprison conscientious objectors who refuse to perform a substitute service which is punitive in length.
After the rulings of the Korean Supreme Court and Constitutional court earlier this year, the Korean courts are now picking up on trials against conscientious objectors. More than 750 conscientious objectors are in prison on Prisoners for Peace Day. Besides Jehovah's Witnesses and 7th Day Adventists, also the number of pacifist conscientious objectors is on the rise. On 15 November, seven pacifist COs were in prison.
Amnesty International reported on 9 November that thousands of people arrested on suspicion of evading military conscription and held at the Adi Abeto army prison are thought to be at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment. According to an AFP report, the military rounded up and arrested thousands of youths and others suspected of evading military conscription on Thursday, 4 November 2004. Amnesty International reports:
"Those arrested were taken to Adi Abeto army prison just outside Asmara.
According to an article published in The New York Times on 16 November 2004, more than 1800 of 4000 former GIs who are now members of the Individual Ready Reserves requested exemption or delay after receiving a call-up for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Poland was one of the countries examined during the 82nd session of the United Nations' Human Rights Committee in Geneva this autumn. The Committee took up the issue of the length of substitute service. The concluding observations of the session on 5 November (unedited version) read:
"15. The Commitee notes that the duration of alternative military service is 18 months, whereas for military service it is only 12 months (art.
More than 12000 young men applied for conscientious objection in Serbia and Montenegro since the introduction of regulation for conscientious objection came into force last year, and substitute service began on 22 December 2003. According to information from the Army of Serbia and Montenegro, 6155 persons were performing substitute service in October 2004, and 5621 cases were still pending. This is about 30% of all persons liable to conscription.
1 December - Prisoners for Peace Day
This year's focus: conscientious objection in Finland
The special edition of WRI's The Broken Rifle, incorporating the annual Prisoners for Peace Honour Roll, is available online in English, German, French, and Spanish. Please contact the WRI Office if you require print copies, or feel free to download the material from our website, and make your own copies.