15 May 2003: International Conscientious Objectors' Day

Focus on Israeli refuseniks and nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation and in favour of coexistence and cooperation

Resources and links on Israel and Palestine | Seminar/action details | History of International Conscientious Objectors' Day | Right to Refuse to Kill project

Since the 1980s, 15 May is celebrated as International Conscientious Objectors' Day[1]. Originally coordinated by the International Conscientious Objectors' Meeting (ICOM), War Resisters' International stepped in to coordinate and promote International Conscientious Objectors' Day since ICOM ceased to meet ever since ICOM 1995 in Chad. As part of WRI's programme on The Right to Refuse to Kill[2], War Resisters' International aims to establish a tradition of international nonviolent direct action on 15 May in support of a certain CO struggle, accompanied by decentral activities all over the world. In 2002, WRI organised an international nonviolent direct action at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, in support of CO movements on the Balkans[3]. In 2003, WRI plans to organise an international nonviolent direct action in Israel, in support of the Israeli refuseniks.


The activities aim at:

  • Strengthening the network of CO and refusenik organisations in Israel, and strengthening international support for these groups (New Profile, Yesh Gvul, The Shministim, Courage to Refuse).
  • Raising international awareness for the treatment of COs and refuseniks in Israel, who are imprisoned several times, in absence of any recognition of the right to conscientious objection.
  • Linking the issue of refuseniks in Israel with Palestinian nonviolent resistance and efforts for coexistence and cooperation among Israeli and Palestinian groups.
  • Exchange of experience in nonviolent direct action among groups from Israel, Palestine, and abroad, especially on issues of conscientious objection.
  • Strengthening international networking of conscientious objectors through joint training and action.

The Campaign

The activities around 15 May 2003 do not stand alone. They can build on ongoing support of Israeli conscientious objectors by War Resisters' International and other groups[4], and they will form part of an international campaign, culminating on 15 May 2003.

In this campaign, WRI will:

  • Provide background information on the situation of conscientious objectors in Israel, as well as updates on imprisonment of conscientious objectors via its co-alert system. This information can be used all over the world;
  • Produce a special issue of The Broken Rifle (published in English, Spanish, French, and German), for use as campaigning material (available through WRI's website and as paper copy);
  • Coordinate decentral activities all over the world on 15 May 2003, in support of Israeli refuseniks;
  • Organise an international nonviolent training week and an international nonviolent direct action in Israel on 15 May 2003, in cooperation with New Profile and other Israeli groups (details elsewhere on this site);
  • Facilitate links with Israeli organisations supporting conscientious objectors.

To be able to do so, WRI aims to get a volunteer for the WRI office (fluent in English), to support the existing staff in March, April, and May. The main tasks of the volunteer will be the production of the special issue of The Broken Rifle, coordination of activities world-wide, and background work/security during the week of training and the action in Israel.

Get involved!

War Resisters' International needs your support to be able to carry out this campaign. Promote our action, participate in the training and action in Israel, organise your own action locally (and send advance notice to the WRI office!), donate to this campaign (we need it!) [5].

Please contact the WRI Office for further information.

Antimilitarist Greetings,
Andreas Speck



[1] Rudi Friedrich: History of Conscientious Objectors' Day, Broken Rifle No 55, May 2002, page 8 (wri-irg.org/co/icodhist.htm)
[4] In 2001, War Resisters' International's Prisoners for Peace Day focussed on Israel and the Palestinian Territories (see Broken Rifle No 53, November 2001 - wri-irg.org/pubs/pfp01-en.htm), and the majority of WRIs co-alerts concern Israeli refuseniks (see wri-irg.org/news/alerts). On 21 September 2002 WRI and New Profile jointly submitted the case of an Israeli CO to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (wri-irg.org/news/2002/newprofile.htm).
Additional documents will be added here as they are put online:
WRI press release: Sixth prison term for Jonathan Ben-Artzi and Uri Ya'acobi
"I am no occupier, full stop": statement by Uri Ya'acobi
[5]How to make a donation to WRI?
* by cheque, money order, or banker's draft in £ sterling, payable to 'WRI'. Cheques must be drawn on a bank with a branch in Britain.
* by giro transfer to WRI, Girobank, Merseyside, Britain, GIR 0AA, sort-code 72-00-00, account number 585 20 4004.
* by credit card (please contact the WRI office).
* in Britain only: by Charity Aid Voucher (CAF), made out to Lansbury House Trust Fund, 5 Caledonian Rd, London N1 9DX (to request such vouchers, write to Charities Aid Foundation, Kings Hill, West Mailing, Kent ME19 4TA, or visit www.CAFonline.org)
* by payment to WRI Financial Agents (please see below)
In the following countries, you can make payments to local WRI agents in your own currency. Please enclose this form with your payment or send it on after making a deposit.
AUSTRALIA: Peter Jones, WRL, PO Box 451, North Hobart, Tasmania 7002 (Island State Credit Union acc. no. 51284147 or cheques payable to WRI)
FRANCE: Maurice Montet, UPF, BP 196, F-75624 Paris cedex 13. (CCP No. 20 842 15G Paris). (Cheques payable to Comité Louis Lecoin)
GERMANY: Förderverein War Resisters' International e.V., Kasseler Sparkasse, Konto-Nr. 11787613, BLZ 520 503 53
NETHERLANDS: Postbank, Goes, Giro 1043356, WRI Clearing
NEW ZEALAND: Mrs Rose Plumridge, 48 Albert Terrace, St Martins, Christchurch 8002
USA: Ralph DiGia, WRI Fund, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

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