This month, we take the opportunity of the CO Update to draw attention to Prisoners for Peace day and urge our readers to write to the prisoners on the list, some of whom have been in prison for over twenty years.
We are also pleased to be able to report on the first ever international week of action for military free education and research. However, conscription and violations or denial of the right to conscientious objection continue: this month we report on the extension of conscription to the Russian army in Chechnya, and the extension of the length of military service in North Korea.
There is, however, good news from Turkmenistan, where 6 conscientious objectors have been released from hard labour. Child soldiers also continue to be released in Myanmar. Meanwhile in Colombia, the ‘libreta militar’ will cease to be a requirement for receiving a degree, and there is more good news from the EU, where a ruling on the case of Andre Shepherd may open the door to greater asylum claim rights for those who seek to avoid punishment for avoiding military service in their home countries. There is also mixed news from Tajikistan, where the ‘all powerful’ president has voiced displeasure at the military raids which nonetheless continue to happen, and from Cyprus, where peace activists have been violently arrested but have received the support of one MP.
Finally, Turkey may introduce a new exemption to military service next year, which seems like good news, but is in fact only for those who can afford to pay.