Welcome to this bumper edition of the CO Update!
This CO Update is a long time in coming, mainly because of all the work that has been happening over the past few months.
This included a trip to Colombia, which we report on here. Colombia faces press gangs – recruitment by force. There's now evidence of the army of Tajikistan's military relying on similarly illegal practices to forcibly pull men into the armed forces against their will.
Since October we have also taken part in an event in Cyprus for conscientious objector and war resister movements in the Eastern Mediterranean region. This took place last month. The meeting was held in the buffer zone in Nicosia, between north and south. A report on that meeting will appear in the next CO Update. One of the groups present at that meeting has written an article for this CO Update on the recruitment of Arab Druze into the Israeli military, and a new resistance movement to this: read 'Refuse, Your people will protect you.'
Also in the Eastern Mediterranean, read about the 45 people who declared themselves COs in Turkey's Kurdish community in December.
There is news of two news publications of interest to conscientious objectors. One – a set of guidelines on claims to refugee status related to military service. This could have positive impacts for COs. A recent week of action in Canada led by the War Resisters' Support Campaign examined a related topic – protesting the occasional deportation from Canada of war resisters who have fled across the border from the USA. Another publication is from friend of WRI Özgür Heval Çinar on Conscientious Objection to Military Service in International Human Rights Law. This book can be read alongside WRI's website that demonstrates how to use international human rights mechanisms: http://co-guide.org/
This CO Update brings news of Qatar and the UAE introducing conscription, somewhat bucking the world trend of recent years, and some positive news about Myanmar's government freeing child soldiers from its armed forces – however many still remain. We also repost an article from WRI's Council member in Venezuela, Rafael Uzcátegui, writing on attempts to unconstitutionally reform conscription legislation. This article was written before the current unrest across the country.
Finally, February 20th marked 25 years since the declarations of the first refuseniks in Spain los insumisos. This movement is still inspiring end conscription campaigns around the world! Read more (in Spanish), here: Insumisión: 25 años desobedeciendo.