FINLAND: Two total objectors going to prison
Sebastian Salminen, a 21-years old total objector from Oulu, went to prison yesterday, on 6 October 2008.
He had been ordered to perform his military service in the Infantry Brigade of Sodankylä. He refused and was sentenced to prison for 195 days by the Oulu
district court (Oulun käräjäoikeus) on 27 November 2007. The charge was "refusing conscription". He noted in his trial that his refusal is a "personal contention based on his pacifist conviction".
The Helsinki appeal court (Helsingin hovioikeus) shortened the sentence to 178 days on 30 July 2008. The shorter sentence is based on the new Alternative Service Act, which came into force in the beginning of this year and shortened both the duration of substitute service (from 395 days to 362 days) and maximum punishment of total objectors (from 197 days to 181 days).
Juhana Hirvonen, a 27-years old set designer from Helsinki, will be imprisoned on 9th of October. He refused conscription on July 2007 and was sentenced to prison for 179 days (after appeal). In his trial he stated that his responsibilities as a human are not towards the state but towards other people. He also stated that armed force does not help society and a functioning society does not necessarily need a machine of violence such as the military.
Although substitute service has been shortened, its length is still over two times the basic length of military service (180 days) and can be seen as punitive. The imprisonment of total objectors also continues under the new law. On 1st of October 2008 there were 15 total objectors in Finnish jails.
Sebastian Salminen is expected to be released from prison on 4th of April 2009, Juhana Hirvonen on 8th of April.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Sebastian Salminen and Juhana Hirvonen:
War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, or Finnish embassies abroad. A protest email can be sent at /co/alerts/20081007a.html.
A list of Finnish embassies can be found at http://formin.finland.fi/doc/eng/missions/embcount.html.
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Sebastian Salminen and Juhana Hirvonen, and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International