Welcome to the October issue of CO-Update, with a range of information on conscription and conscientious objection. We even have some good news to report: on 3 September we sent a co-alert on the case of Colombian conscientious objector Cristian Camilo Henao Suaza. We have now been informed by Red Juvenil de Medellin and by Cristian Camilo Henao Suaza himself that he has been released by the military. This shows that national and international solidarity can be successful.
A South Korean judge again filed a petition with the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the country's Military Service Act in the case of a conscientious objector who refused military service, JoongAng Daily reported on 10 September 2009.
According to an article in Today's Zaman, some legal amendments are planned in Turkey to address the issue of conscientious objection, following the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Osman Murat Ülke in January 2006. However, these amendments are far from recognising the right to conscientious objection.
On 1 July 2009, the last conscripts left the Armed Forces of Lithuania. This completes the transition of the Lithuanian Armed Forces to a volunteer force. On 13 March 2008, the Lithuanian Parliament passed a new law “On the Principles of Organisation of the Lithuanian Armed Forces”, which provides for parliament to set the number of conscripts to be recruited on a year by year bases, with the aim to suspend conscription (a 'zero' quota).
Sweden decided to phase out conscription in peace time by 1 July 2010. As of January 1, 2011, the current education will be replaced entirely by a three-month voluntary military training. Thereafter, soldiers will be offered a longer education related to a particular position with the goal of creating permanent and contract-based military units. In the current system, 8 000 people out of an annual cohort of 120,000 Swedish citizens are called in to carry out military service.
The Telegraph reported on 25 September 2009 that Afghanistan may introduce conscription in order to recruit sufficient troops for the troop levels demanded by the USA and its NATO allies. General Stanley McChrystal, commander of Nato-forces in Afghanistan, demanded in his recent strategic assessment of the situation in the country that the army should grow from 92,000 to 134,000 in the next year. It should then reach 240,000 as soon as possible, which commanders admit would need the recruitment and training of 5,000 men each month.
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