Conscientious objection

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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.

German Peace Society – United Antimilitarists – State Associations of Berlin, North Rhine Westphalia and Hesse, and Connection e.V.

Visit www.Connection-eV.org/article-2228 for further information on this story.

The case brought against the Ukrainian journalist and conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba continued today in Ivano-Frankivsk. It was the first day on which the hearing was observed by a delegation of antimilitarist organisations from Germany. Mr Kotsaba, aged 49, has been held in detention ever since he was arrested almost a year ago on charges of treason and obstructing the military. If sentenced, he faces 15 years in jail.

Statement of the feminist collective TO MOV (Greece) co-signed by the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors

At a time when the democratic demand is the abolition of compulsory military service, the ministry of Defense, on the contrary, seems to wish the extension of this service to women.

According to publications, a new bill is prepared for the foundation of military secondary schools (lycea) in which all those planning to follow military or police professions will enrol, and also the women enrolling such lycea will have to subsequently perform “voluntary” military service, in order to be eligible for exams in the respective academies. We are faced with a proposal for radical and reactionary reform of the education system in the second grade, which must not pass. What does the Minister of Education say? Does the Minister of Defense decide alone for his own ministry? On what right?

On 6 January 2016, conscientious objector Yannis Vasilis Yaylali was sentenced to 7 months and 15 days of prison penalty, for his articles that defend conscientious objection and oppose the war going on in Kurdish regions. The custodial sentence can only begin after the decision of court of appeal, so he is not in prison yet. He was found guilty of flouting the infamous Article 318 of the Turkish penal code: alienating people from military service. He has two more prosecutions with the same accusation.

Yannis made a statement after the decision:

"Article 318 was rarely used in the last years, until the war began again last year. The state is increasing its pressure to all war resisters, anti-militarists and conscientious objectors in the times of war. They're trying to silence us but we won't give in."

Israeli conscientious objector Taya Govreen-Segal, currently interning in the WRI office in London, is speaking at various events over the coming weeks around Britain.

Events include: 30th January - Palestine day in Portsmouth, 1st February - Glasgow; 2nd February - Edinburgh; 5th February - Godalming; 13th February - 
%20">Britain and Palestine Conference, Sailsbury (talk on the Israeli arms trade).

See more info here.


This month we are calling for your support for two prisoners of conscience: Burmese activist Chaw Sandi Tun and Israeli activist Tair Kaminer. Chaw Sandi Tun

has been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in connection with a Facebook post mocking the army. She was arrested in Yangon and transferred to Maubin prison, where she remains behind bars. Support Chaw Sandi via your protest email here.

Tair Kaminer, 19-year-old activist from Israel, has been imprisoned for 20 days for her refusal to join the Israeli military this month. Support Tair via your protest email here.

* Adopted by the Committee at its 115th session (19 October–6 November 2015)

C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations

Views under the Optional Protocol

6. The Committee remains concerned about the absence of a specific mechanism to implement the Committee’s Views under the Optional Protocol In particular, the Committee notes with concern that the State party has, except in one case, failed to implement the Committee’s Views, notably the numerous cases concerning conscientious objection (art. 2).

7. The State party should establish mechanisms and appropriate procedures to give full effect to the Committee’s Views so as to guarantee effective remedies in all cases of violations against the Covenant It should also fully implement the Views the Committee has issued so far.

* Adopted by the Committee at its 115th session (19 October–6 November 2015).

Freedom of conscience and religious belief

33. The Committee notes that the length of the civilian alternative service to military service for conscientious objectors is longer than military service and may be punitively long if not based on reasonable and objective grounds (arts. 18 and 26).

32. The State party is encouraged to ensure that the length of service alternative to military service required for conscientious objectors is not punitive in nature.

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