On 15th May - International Conscientious Objection Day - War Resisters' International drew attention to the 250+ young people in jail in South Korea for refusing military service. Hundreds of people sent messages of protest to the Korean authorities and messages of support to conscientious objectors in South Korea!
'Recognizing the right to conscientious objection to military service does not only involve guaranteeing objectors the freedom of conscience, thought, and religion. In addition, overcoming deep-rooted violence and militarism will be possible only when we acknowledge this right to object. In order for Korea to make the most of the most precious opportunity for peace that has come in seventy years and to become a country of permanent peace, the right to conscientious objection must be recognized.'
Watch and share the statement below:
Actions around the world
On Jeju Island, South Korea, there was a street protest led by Jeju Green Party and the Jeju Queer Culture Festival (news story here), and in Seoul a cycling for peace event went ahead despite being effected by rain!
In London, at a CO day event that had speakers on conscientious objection in South Korea and Eritrea, over sixty people signed postcards to be sent to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in London. Members of WRI and the Peace Pledge Union went straight to the embassy to deliver them.
In Sheffield, Berlin, Liverpool, Cambridge and Edinburgh events took place where people were asked to sign petitions on behalf of South Korean COs, or World Without War's statement was read. The Movement for Conscientious Objection in Russia held movie screenings in St. Petersburg and Voronezh, followed by a petition signing sessions and a visit to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to deliver them.
Check out the photo gallery below for a taster of some of these actions!
Many people shared solidarity messages on social media, and hundreds participated in our CO-Alert action to write to the President of South Korean asking him to free the over 250 conscientious objectors currently in jail.
Other protests took place highlighting war resistance elsewhere, including the shutting down of a marine recruitment centre in Berkeley, USA. Around CO day activists in Colombia had just finished a three-day meeting with conscientious objectors from around the country, see some photos here. Well done and thank you friends!
You can still get involved!
- Show your solidarity with Korean conscientious objectors using the hashtag #freeKoreanCOs;
- Share World Without War's statement for CO day on social media;
- Send a postcard to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in your country to protest their imprisonment. Details here;
- Send our template email to send a message to the government of South Korea.
If you would like to receive action ideas in support of conscientious objectors around the world, you can opt-in to our CO-Alerts here.