Every December, War Resisters' International invites sympathisers to send greeting cards to prisoners for peace. This Honour Roll includes imprisoned conscientious objectors and nonviolent activists who have tried to obstruct war preparations. Each year, we also focus on one of the nonviolent struggles around the world: this year it is in Tibet.
There are over 100 COs sentenced to prison in southern Cyprus every year, all of them Jehovah's Witnesses. At least nine COs are facing trial at the end of November and might be imprisoned. One of them, with very poor eye-sight and a heart condition, is 53 years old. Many COs face repeated sentences, as they continue to refuse conscription once they are released. (Under a law introduced in January 1992, COs have the alternatives of 34 months unarmed service in a military camp, or 42 months civilian service.
I am Javier Roncero, member of the youth organisation Juventud Obrera Cristiana de Espana (JOC-E; Christian Worker Youth). Through a learning process, both in the family and with this group, we have taken on responsibilities for social change, thinking and taking action according to an alternative vision of society, with more solidarity, more fairness, and in peace.
My refusal to perform military service comes out of this belief. The state's response to this political problem is one of repression-imprisonment for between one year and two years, four months, and a day (as is my sentence).
In 1971, Pepe Beunza made history as the first modern Spanish conscientious objector; today he visits prisons to support young objectors who refuse the alternative service which Pepe demanded. With more objectors than conscripts in parts of the state, and with alternative service in administrative chaos, is the Spanish model of massive disobedience to conscription now on the verge of success?
Organisations with anti-militarist aims cannot be set up in Turkey-it's official. Last year the Turkish Ministry of the Interior refused the registration of the Izmir group of Savas Karsitlari Dernegi (SKD-the War Resisters Association), and now it has refused registration to Istanbul SKD.
Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara groups of SKD continue to operate unofficially working to open a path between "forced fighting and silence" after 14 years of apathy in Turkey towards the war in "South-East"-the area it is forbidden to call "Kurdistan".
The WRI Prisoners for Peace Honour Roll cannot include all the nonviolent social activists imprisoned in the pursuit of peace, freedom and justice. Therefore each year WRI intends to highlight one struggle.