Prisoners for Peace

1st December is Prisoners for Peace Day. For over 60 years, War Resisters' International have, on this day, made known the names and stories of those imprisoned because of their actions for peace. Many are conscientious objectors, in gaol for refusing to join the military. Others have taken nonviolent actions to disrupt preparation for war.

This day is a chance for you to demonstrate your support for those individuals and their movements, by writing to those whose freedom has been taken away from them because of their work for peace.

WRI has a permanent Prisoners for Peace list, which we make a special effort to update for Prisoners for Peace Day on December 1st.

Today is Prisoners for Peace Day, when War Resisters' International and our members remember those imprisoned for their work for peace, and write to them in jail. Please join us!

We're coming up to Prisoners for Peace day, held on 1st December. For over sixty years on this day we've been sharing stories and contacts details of those imprisoned for their work for peace, including conscientious objectors.

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.

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.

Tamar Alon, Atalya Ben Abba and Tamar Ze'evi are facing repeated imprisonment for refusing to serve the Israeli occupation. On 1st December, Mesarvot (a network supporting political refusal and conscientious objectors) called an international a day of action to support them.

Vigils took place outside arms manufacturing facilities and other locations calling on governments to stop arming the Israeli occupation rather than profiting from it. the day of action highlighted that as young people in Israel are refusing to serve the occupation, we should refuse to profit from it. Because as long as Europe trades with the Israeli weapon industry - the occupation will continue. As long as the US continue to arm Israel and buy its weapons - young Israelis will continue to be imprisoned for refusing to aim these weapons toward civilians.

1st December is Prisoners for Peace Day: a chance to show solidarity with those imprisoned or their work for peace. Use this list to contact those currently in jail.

During November and December, Tamar Alon, Atalya Ben Abba and Tamar Ze'evi will refuse to conscript and serve the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. So this Prisoners for Peace Day we are also organising an international day of action with Mesarvot (a network of Israeli organisations, groups and individuals who support political conscientious objectors) when we declare: THEY REFUSE to serve the occupation, WE refuse to profit from it. Vigils will take place outside arms manufacturing facilities and other locations calling on governments to stop arming the Israeli occupation rather than profiting from it. Could you arrange an action near you? Contact mesarvot.im@gmail.com, and share the Facebook event.

Read more...

Tamar Alon, Atalya Ben Abba and Tamar Ze'evi are facing imprisonment for refusing to serve the Israeli occupation. Support them by joining us on December 1st for an international day of action.

Vigils will take place outside arms manufacturing facilities and other locations calling on governments to stop arming the Israeli occupation rather than profiting from it.

As long as Europe trades with the Israeli weapon industry - the occupation will continue. As long as the US continue to arm Israel and buy its weapons - young Israelis will continue to be imprisoned for refusing to aim these weapons toward civilians.

***
THEY REFUSE to gas civilians, will the US refuse to buy Israeli teargas?
THEY REFUSE to shoot civilians, will EAST ASIA refuse to buy Israel guns?
THEY REFUSE to bomb Gaza, will we call OUR COUNTRIES to refuse to trade drones with Israel?

THEY REFUSE to serve the occupation, WE refuse to profit from it.
***

Ukrainian journalist and CO Ruslan Kotsaba is on trial in Ivano-Frankivsk. Ruslan has been in detention for almost a year, charged with treason and obstructing the military.  In a video addressed to the Ukrainian President, he declared his refusal to be drafted, saying he would rather go to prison for five years than turn a weapon on his "compatriots in the east".

With new sources of information, we've been able to update the prisoners for peace list with hundreds of more names from Singapore and South Korea, primarily Jehovah's Witnesses. The process of adding names of conscientious objectors to our database is ongoing. They include prison addresses, so please consider writing to an imprisoned CO over the year, not just on Prisoners for Peace Day!

There are over 700 COs in prison in South Korea at present.

See the full list here.

Conscientious objector Visa Savolainen was one of those detained COs who received letters of solidarity in December 2015 on Prisoners for Peace Day. Visa wrote a reflection on his blog on the joy of receiving these.

International Prisoners for Peace Day has been celebrated on December 1st for years. The purpose of the day is to provoke conversation and commemorate peace prisoners with different expressions of support and solidarity.

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