Dear friend and supporter of War Resisters' International,
The situation of conscientious objectors in Greece has been a focus of War Resisters' International's work for the last six months, and is also the focus of this years' campaign for International Conscientious Objectors' Day on 15th May.
Greece was the last country of the European Union to recognise the right to conscientious objection when it finally did so in 1997.
On 28 April, Mehmet Tarhan, gay, anarchist, and conscientious objector, was tried for "insubordination in front of his unit" according to Article 88 or the Turkish Military Penal Code. This charge carries a punishment of between 3 months and 5 years imprisonment.
To show international support, War Resisters' International organised an international delegation to observe the trial.
Issue 66 of WRI's newsletter The Broken Rifle has just been published as part of War Resisters' International's campaign for International Conscientious Objectors' Day, focusing on conscientious objection in Greece. Since the 1980s, International CO Day -- celebrated on 15th May every year -- has been an important day of action highlighting CO struggle. This year we are turning our attention to CO's in Greece and will be holding an International Nonviolence Training in Thessaloniki.
On the 1st of April, I was able to give my presentation on a parallel meeting of NGOs which was organized by Conscience Peace Tax International. I presented a paper on Military service and Militarism in Eritrea. It was moderated by Rachel Brett from Quakers.
Forum 18 News Service reported on 22 April that all four imprisoned conscientious objectors had been released in mid-April following a presidential decree. All four known Jehovah's Witness prisoners - Begench Shakhmuradov, Atamurat Suvkhanov, Mansur Masharipov and Vepa Tuvakov – were freed last weekend in the wake of a surprise presidential decree and are now back at home with their families, Jehovah's Witnesses have told Forum 18.
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.