Welcome to the third issue of CO Update, the e-newsletter of WRI's Right to Refuse to Kill programme. This issue of CO Update starts with an essay by WRI Council member and New Profile activist Sergeiy Sandler on the situation of women COs in Israel. We want to encourage other WRI activists to reflect on the situation regarding conscientious objection in their country, and the CO Update e-newsletter can be a tool to spread such analysis.
The status of women under the Israeli conscription law, and practice, has always been exceptional. Now, legal developments threaten to deprive women conscientious objectors in Israel of the little recognition of their right to CO that they enjoyed so far.
The Turkish conscientious objector Cemal Karakus, who declared his conscientious objection publicly on 15 May 2004, was briefly arrested by police in mid-October. The reason for his arrest was that he is considered a draft evader. However, the police did not find any reason to keep him under arrest, and so he was released again.
Two South Korean conscientious objectors, Mr Myung-Jin Choi and Mr Yeo-Bum Yoon, brought their case to the United Nations in an individual complaint under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The two individual complaints are the last legal means available to conscientious objectors in South Korea, after both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court rules against the right to conscientious objection on 15 July and 26 August 2004 (see CO-Update No 1).
Muslim Gulf war conscientious objector Mohisin Khan, who refused to take part in the war on Iraq because he did not want to fight against fellow Muslims, lost his appeal in the hight court against his prosecution by the RAF for going absent without leave on 7 October 2004.
Khan voluntarily enlisted in the Royal Air Force in December 1999, and joined the Medical Assistant trade on an engagement for 9 years of service plus 6 years reserve.
Although Azerbaijan introduced the constitutional right to conscientious objection in a referendum 2 years ago, an appeal court in Baku rejected the claim of a conscientious objector on 16 September. Jehovah's Witness Mahir Bagirov was called up in 2000, but wrote to the recruitment office that he wishes to perform alternative service because of his faith. He was then again called up in May 2004. On 9 June, he lodged his suit at Baku's Khatai district court, artguing that the call up was unconstitutional.
This years focus: conscientious objection in Finland.
It is only one more month to Prisoners for Peace Day. The special edition of WRI's The Broken Rifle, incorporating the annual Prisoners for Peace Honour Roll, will be available in English online after 4 November, and in print from 15 November on. The German, French, and Spanish editions will be available soon after.