International Conscientious Objection Day

Every year, 15th May marks International Conscientious Objection Day (CO day) - a day to celebrate those who have, and those who continue, to resist war, especially by refusing to be part of military structures.

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Editorial

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15th May is International Conscientious Objectors' Day, and in 2006 War Resisters' International focuses on the situation of and support to US war resisters: Gis applying for conscientious objector status, going AWOL, or finding other ways to get discharged from the US military.


15th May is International Conscientious Objectors' Day, and in 2006 War Resisters' International focuses on the situation of and support to US war resisters: GIs applying for conscientious objector status, going AWOL, or finding other ways to get discharged from the military.

Operation Refuse War

15 May - International Conscientious Objectors Day

Focus on US resisters and GIs

From May 11th to 16th, an international group of conscientious objectors will gather in New York City and Washington, DC for Operation Refuse War, a week of conferences, demonstrations, and actions in celebration of International Conscientious Objectors Day, May 15th.

Operation Refuse War

15 May - International Conscientious Objectors Day

Focus on US resisters and GIs

From May 11th to 16th, an international group of conscientious objectors will gather in New York City and Washington, DC for Operation Refuse War, a week of conferences, demonstrations, and actions in celebration of International Conscientious Objectors Day, May 15th.

Focus on conscientious objection in Greece

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.

Cyprus, a tiny divided island in the eastern Mediterranean is a military minefield. Even after accession to the EU, no country in the world - with the exception of Korea - has seen its territory amassed with such a deadly array of weaponry with possible catastrophic consequences for the inhabitants. 40000 occupying Turkish forces and another few thousand Turkish-Cypriot soldiers face a few thousand Greek- Cypriots conscripts and Greek soldiers, with British troops and bases and a few thousand UN peace keepers guarding the ceasefire line.

When the UN Human Rights Committee announced their plans to examine human rights abuses in Greece, WRI saw an opportunity to get CO issues on the international agenda and significantly raise the profile of the Greek struggle against militarism. WRI produced a comprehensive report on conscientious objection to military service in Greece detailing numerous human rights shortfalls. The report describes the legal situation in Greece vis-à-vis conscription and CO before outlining the problems and discriminatory practices that the current law causes.

Compulsory military service was introduced in Greece by the Constitution of 1911. A year later Greece was engaged in consecutive wars (two Balkan wars, the First World War and the Campaign in Asia Minor), which lasted a decade. During the final two years of this decade there was a vast movement of desertions from the Greek Army, due essentially to the long period of mobilization (there were conscripts who were called up in 1911 and not released until 1923). There aren't known cases of desertion for ideological reasons at that time.

Conscription in Greece has wide-reaching implications for Greek society. These include financial conseas well as important effects on the socialisation of men and in the propagation of gender, sexual, racial and international stereotypes. Conscientious objection has an important role in challenging many of these structures. Whilst this subject is large, here we will attempt to give an overview of some of them.

Lazaros Petromelidis is a Greek CO who has been persecuted for his beliefs since 1992. He spoke with Kat Barton about his long struggle for recognition of his right to refuse.

KB: When did you first realise that your conscience would not allow you to participate in the military?

LP: In 1991, when I finished university and it was my time to go to the army - although I had heard about the first CO's in 1987/88 so it was not something new for me.

KB: Why are you a conscientious objector?

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