GREECE: Conscientious objector sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison


Greek Conscientious objector Giorgios Monastiriotis, the first professional soldier who refused to be sent to the Persian Gulf in May 2003, was arrested on Monday, 13 September 2004, and immediately tried and sentenced. In May 2003 Giorgos Monstaritiotis joined the Greek Navy on a 5 years contract, refused to embark with the crew of the battleship "Navarino" on a mission to the Persian Gulf. He declared his immediate resignation from the Navy instead. The Navarino was sailing to the Persian Gulf as part of operation "Enduring Freedom". Giorgos Monastiriotis gave the following statement prior to his refusal in May 2003: "Acting on the basis of my conscience, I refuse to take part or contribute by any means in the relentless slaughter of the Iraqi people. I refuse to take part in a war that is not ended, as even now after its official end people and among them many children are being killed. Even if this war is officially finished, many more are to come, as war is necessary for the expansion of the dominance of the ruling powers. I declare my immediate resignation from the Hellenic Navy, which is a mechanism that promotes inhuman practices through orders and hierarchy and acts as a means of extortion and repression of the movement and the uprisings of the people. My refusal is also the minimal act of solidarity due to the Iraqi people and to the peaceful sentiments of the Greek people." Although Greece recognises the right to conscientious objection in principle - albeit with a lot of limitations and problems in practice - this does not apply to professional soldiers, who cannot claim their right to conscientious objection. Consequently, Giorgos Monastiriotis was arrested on Monday, 13 September, and court martialed. He was sentenced to 3 years and 4 months imprisonment, and is presently imprisoned in the city of Korinthos.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Greek authorities, and Greek embassies abroad. A list of Greek embassies can be found at You can send a protest email to Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, Prime Minister of Greece, at

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Giorgos Monastiriotis.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

Contact for protest letters:

Mr. Kostas Karamanlis, Prime Minister of Greece Maximos Mansion (‘Megaro Maximou’)
19, Herodou Attikou str
GR-106 74 Athens