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.

On 14th July, conscientious objectors Tair Kaminer and Ruslan Kotsaba – in Ukraine and Israel respectively - were released. Journalist and draft refuser Ruslan Kotsaba was freed on appeal, after initially being charged with treason. The judge found that there was no evidence to condemn him, and ordered his immediate release from custody. In Israel, refuser Tair Kaminer was exempted from the army for 'bad behaviour'. She had spent over 150 days in prison for her refusal. CO Omri Baranes is still going through the process of being repeatedly called up, imprisoned, released and called up. Sign up to support her, and other COs, here. Refusing to kill is not a crime.

Read more...

UPDATE: on 14 July Ruslan was released on appeal, the judge finding that there was insufficient evidence to support the charge of treason. Read the news here.

Ukrainian court of appeal acquits journalist sentenced for high treason

Read more on UNIAN: http://www.unian.info/politics/1417986-ukrainian-court-of-appeal-acquit… Ukrainian court of appeal acquits journalist sentenced for high treason

Read more on UNIAN: http://www.unian.info/politics/1417986-ukrainian-court-of-appeal-acquit… PDF

Conscientious objector and journalist sentenced to 3½ years in jail

In Israel, Omri Barnes and Tair Kaminer have been imprisoned again because they #refuse2occupy and refuse to serve the army. Tair, starting her 6th term of 45 days in prison said "As long as the violent military way holds sway, we will simply have further generations growing up with a heritage of hate, which will only make things even worse. We must stop this - now!". Omri, returning now to prison for the third time for a term of 30 days says "The military creates a circle of violence while claiming to defend the country. I believe that a person has a responsibility towards certain humanistic values, which lie beyond his/hers political and social framework, which is why I refuse to enlist."

Their support group Mersavot is calling people around the world to support them, by posting your own picture a with a message to Tair and Omri and use the hashtag #refuse2occupy.

I spent the weekend in the good company of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), a European umbrella organisation campaigning for the rights of conscientious objectors. In their 30+ year history, EBCO have never before met in Britain. They chose to on this occasionat the invitation of the First World War Peace Forum, a group of British peace groups working to give an alternative, antimiltiarist view of the centenary memorials to the first World War, which in Britain have been an excuse for nationalism and militarism.


Today is International Conscientious Objection day - a day to celebrate those who have - and those who continue - to resist war, especially by refusing to be part of military structures.

Antimilitarist activists around the world are sharing the stories of conscientious objectors to military service, including over 700 imprisoned in South Korea, those in Venezuela struggling for the right to refuse military service in the Soy Civil No Militar (I am civil not military)campaign, and those who have been in prison in Eritrea since 1994.

The right to refuse to kill is recognised as part of the right to thought, conscience and religion, but many states ignore this. Conscientious objection is a nonviolent strategy against war, and the idea of conscientious objection has been used by those not subject to obligatory military service, in communities militarised in other ways. It's a way of reclaiming our own power, and taking a stand against war.

See a list of some of the events below. You can use the hashtag #CODay (o #díaOC en español) to spread the word about the day on social media.

You can use these sample tweets:

Today is #COday. Over 700 #conscentiousobjectors are imprisoned today in #SouthKorea alone. Sign up to support them http://lists.wri-irg.org/sympa/subscribe/co-alert Today is #COday: #ConscientiousObjectors are working internationally against #militarisation. Sign up to learn more: http://lists.wri-irg.org/sympa/subscribe/co-update Today is #COday: we celebrate all those who refuse to be part of militarist structures, both as conscripts and in everyday life

Having reintroduced conscription temporarily (for a span of five years) last year, the State Defence Council decided in March that mandatory military service would be enacted indefinitely. The council's decision now have to be approved at the Seimas, the country's parliament. Conscription had been abolished in 2008, but was reintroduced - and defence spending also increased - citing security threats in Eastern Europe.

There are often rumours of conscription in times of political tension, or when right-wing spokespeople raise fears of the 'indiscipline of youth'. Such rumours often circulate without impact, but sometimes they are the start of a wider campaign and eventual reintroduction of compulsory military service.

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