Welcome to the March issue of the CO-Update e-newsletter. In this issue you will find a lot of information on Eastern European countries, and unfortunately very little news on positive developments. During the last month we also had a higher number of co-alerts than previously, a clear sign that support for conscientious objectors is still very important.
A focus for this issue is the Deserters' Festival in Russia, which took place from 19-23 February.
From 20-23 February 2005, a representative of War Resisters' International visited Moscow and participated in some of the events of the "Deserters' Festival", organised by Autonomous Action, a network of anarchist groups in Russia.
The festival started with a discussion on antimilitarism on Sunday, 20 February. The discussion took place in a youth club close to the university, with about 25 participants, mostly sympathisers of Autonomous Action.
Serbia: Numbers of conscientious objectors grow - change in regulations
As the numbers of applications for conscientious objector status continue to grow in Serbia and Montenegro, the authorities respond with new regulations for conscientious objectors, which are even less in compliance with international standards then the present regulations.
Ivana Petrovic reports for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting: "According to recent data from the defence ministry in February, 8,500 recruits opted to serve their country in civilian form this year.
According to a report of the UN's IRIN news network, the Ugandan Army is allowing former child soldiers from the rebel Lords' Resitance Army (LRA) into its ranks because it is a better option for them than remaining with the insurgents.
15 May - International Conscientious Objectors' Day
International Conscientious Objectors' Day 2005 focuses on the situation of conscientious objectors in Greece. War Resisters' International and the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors are organising an international seminar and nonviolence training, leading to an international nonviolent action on conscientious objection in Thessaloniki on 15 May.
The activities will start on 9 May, and will last until 15 May.