Right to Refuse to Kill

War Resisters' International's programme The Right to Refuse to Kill combines a wide range of activities to support conscientious objectors individually, as well as organised groups and movements for conscientious objection.

Our main publications are CO-Alerts (advocacy alerts sent out whenever a conscientious objector is prosecuted) and CO-Updates (a bimonthly look at developments in conscientious objection around the world).

We maintain the CO Guide - A Conscientious Objector's Guide to the International Human Rights System, which can help COs to challenge their own governments, and protect themselves from human rights abuses.

Information about how nation states treat conscientious objectors can be found in our World Survey of Conscientious Objection and recruitment.

More info on the programme is available here.

Following Tamar Ze'evi's release last month, who got conscientious objector status as a political refuser after serving more than 100 days in military prison, Tamar Alon has also been released. Alon, refused to be conscripted in November last year, saying that joining the IDF would have contributed to the oppression of the Palestinian people. She has served six terms in military prison and spent 130 days in total behind bars.

The European Bureau of Conscientious Objection held its spring General Assembly last week at the Peace House in Brussels. The meeting was attended by WRI and COs and activists from  Belgium, Catalonia, Germany, Greece, France, Italy, Turkey, and the UK. The EBCO Board repeated its call to the Greek Government to keep its promises to address shortcomings in its legislation and procedures regarding conscientious objection to military service.

In November 2016, an EBCO delegation, headed by Vice-President Sam Biesemans, met the Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr. Dimitrios Vitsas in Athens. As reported by EBCO delegation, the Deputy Minister recognised the existing problems and expressed the intention to present to the parliament a draft law specifically on conscientious objection. In its press release, EBCO Board stated that they will “carefully monitor the process”. They are also offering their assistance to the Greek authorities in bringing their conscientious objection provisions  into line with European and international human rights standards.

Read EBCO's statement here: http://www.ebco-beoc.org/node/421

Atalia Ben-Abba is an imprisoned Israeli conscientious objector

After 115 days of imprisonment, Israeli conscientious objector Tamar Ze'evi has had her objection to military service recognised, and has been granted CO status as a political refuser. However, conscientious objectors Atalia Ben-Abba and Tamar Alon have been imprisoned again for their refusal to take part in the occupation and serve in the IDF. This is Atalia's second, and Tamar's sixth imprisonment, and each will spend 30 days more behind bars. Click here send a protest email to the Israeli authorities.

Along with our email alert, you can also send your solidarity messages to Atalia and Tamar. Use this link to write them and your messages will be passed on.

Conscientious Objector Diego Fernando Blanco López from Colombia has been illegally recruited by the Colombian army, despite his right to postpone due to being a student. He is currently being forced to serve in the Grupo de Caballeria Mecanicado No 4 Juan de Corral of the Colombian Army in Rionegro, Antioquia.

Since his declaration of conscientious objection on 20th March 2017, Diego Blanco has been subjected to aggression and harassment by his superiors.

War Resisters' International has a CO-Alert system that we use to pressure authorities across the world where conscientious objectors (COs) face persecution.

Hundreds of subscribers receive an email, and they use an email template (here's an example) to protest the treatment of COs to the relevant authorities, for example asking for their release from forced recruitment or imprisonment.

Lee Sangmin

Sometimes I dream about the past. Usually, I don't dream about positive experiences, just days I regret and memories I want to run away from. Memories remains an unconscious pressure, and come to me often in my dreams. It smells like a scent of dirt just before raining. I also dream about the future that never came. In the worst case scenario, the very situations I want to avoid appear in my dreams. I always breath a sigh when I wake up, and I’m glad they didn’t happen to me in real life.

What is the worst thing that can happen to me while in prison? For prisoners, the most anticipated thing is being released. I believe that most prisoners hope to get an early release through parole, by being a model prisoner. In a horrible place where I cannot even open the door, I cannot get out of the day and see the outside air and the landscape beyond 4 meters of the wall, sharing love with my beloved, smiling with my friends and family. I feel my heart beating so fast by imagining these things. At the same time, it is frustrating that this reality, these good things, are not available to me right now. If the scheduled parole is cancelled, it will be a terrible thing. Only three month left I have to spend. But those short days keep dragging on.

From the Quaker United Nations Office:

 The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a call for inputs on the issue of conscientious objection to military service (see attached file).

The compiled information will lead to a new UN report on the topic. The report will provide the most comprehensive outline

Download as a pdf

Athens 14/12/2016

On Monday 12 of December, a few days after the anniversary marking 30 years from the first declaration of refusal to enlist on ideological grounds of Mihalis Maragkakis, three new conscientious objectors proceeded to an unprecedented, as for Greece, massive refusal to be examined by the Conscience Examination Committee.

Specifically, the 3 conscientious objectors, responding to the Call to boycott the Conscience Examination Committee, issued by the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors (AGCO), they reported to the Ministry of National Defence. Upon their arrival, the 3 conscientious objectors stated to the Ministry's employee who was escorting them, that they have a common stance, and therefore they wanted to enter altogether in the room in order to declare orally the reasons for holding this stance and to collectively present their protest. When she passed this information to the president of the Committee, Mr. Theodoros Raptis, member of the State's Legal Council, who was entering in the same time, he responded that these things will not be discussed in the corridor, without showing the minimum interest to know what exactly the three objectors had asked for.

Download as a pdf

Athens 10/12/2016

The Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors calls on those who have submitted applications in order to be recognized as conscientious objectors and perform alternative service, to boycott, from now on, the Conscience Examination Committee. The existence of a committee, which, like another Holy Inquisition, interrogates the conscientious objectors, violates any sense of the protected right to freedom of conscience. 

Furthermore, this interrogation, under the threat of rejection and the subsequent sanctions for insubordination in case the rejected persons insist in their conscientious objection, leads to the collection of data (profiling) of people, based, among other things, on their political beliefs, which they are kept in records of the Ministry of National Defence. What's even worse, the Committee has recently exercised unacceptable pressure to the conscientious objectors under examination, in order to reveal other comrades in their political activities,[i] sometimes even asking the latter to act as testifiers in order to confirm the claims of the applicants. This results either in the profiling of persons beyond the objector under examination, or in the rejection of any applicant who refuses to do so.

Download this report as a pdf

SUBMISSION TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE: 119th SESSION

for the attention of the Country Report Task Force on ERITREA

Military service, conscientious objection and related issues.

Prepared December 2016

Basic Information

HISTORY: Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, after a thirty-year armed liberation struggle, and that year became the 184th member state of the United Nations.1 Following independence, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front transformed itself into the “Popular Front for Democracy and Justice”, and under that title has imposed military rule ever since. Between 1998 and 2000 a war with Ethiopia over a disputed border caused massive casualties: since then there have been simmering border tensions but no full-scale military conflict. Nevertheless, the level of militarisation in the country has if anything increased.

Subscribe to Right to Refuse to Kill