The June issue of co-update opens with a report on our activities for 15 May - International Day of Conscientious Objection. As mentioned in the last issue of co-update, WRI's focus for 15 May 2009 has been on the situation in South Korea.
However, South Korea is not the only country where conscientious objectors encounter problems, and in many countries COs and their supporters celebrated 15 May to raise awareness for the problems conscientious objectors face.
South Korea was War Resisters' International's focus for International Conscientious Objection Day 2009 - 15 May. Jointly with the Korean organisations Korea Solidarity for Conscientious Objection (KSCO) and World Without War (WWW), WRI had organised an international meeting and training of conscientious objectors in Seoul, with participants from Eritrea, Germany, Finland, Macedonia, Israel, Puerto Rico, Spain, and South Korea.
Today's Zaman reported on 26 May that the Turkish military is proposing a far-reaching modernisation of the Turkish military, but will maintain conscription. The proposed new bill, which has been forwarded to the Ministry of Defence for review, does not do away with compulsory military service, but does introduce a mixed system made up of both professional and conscripted army units.
The Kathmandu Post reported on 19 May on a concept paper of a sub-committee of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal which recommends the introduction of conscription. According to the recommendation, all able Nepali citizens will be conscripted into the Army at the age of 18. The conscripts will have to undergo compulsory military training for a period of two years.
The Helsinki Times reported on 14 May that support for conscription in the country is waning. According to a survey carried out on behalf of the national daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, 26 per cent of Finns feel that the current system of conscripted national service should be abolished. Opinions on the matter appear to have have evolved in recent years. Four years ago only 19 per cent of those surveyed favoured placing service in the army on a voluntary footing.
Since its foundation in 1921, the work for prisoners for peace – imprisoned conscientious objectors and peace activists – has been a central part of the work of War Resisters' International.
1 December has been Prisoners for Peace Day since 1957. Take some time – not only on 1 December – Prisoners for Peace Day – to write letters to prisoners (see the included list).
Nonviolent Livelihood Struggle and Global Militarism: links & strategies