The struggle of individual conscientious objectors is often a long one, rather than a short term campaign. This is very much the case in Turkey, where Mehmet Tarhan, who first declared his conscientious objection in 2001, and whose first detention was ten years ago, has been fined 9,000 Turkish Liras, for "failing to obey orders."
After the reinstatement of military conscription last year, the Ukrainian military is undertaking the first of three waves of 'emergency' military conscription. Call ups in this wave started on 20 January, and men aged 25 to 60 are eligible for conscription. By mid-February 75000 people had been called up, of whom 60% will enter service, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko claims.
Conscription had ended in Ukraine in 2013, but was reimposed in 2014.
Campaigners in Colombia have been boosted by a new ruling from the Constitutional Court. In a case brought by two conscientious objectors (COs) who had been forcibly recruited into the military, in January the Court ordered the National Recruitment Office to: resolve applications for CO within 15 days; to publish a booklet that notifies youth of their grounds for exemption, deferral, and their right to CO; and to end the practices of arbitrary detention, including batidas (recruitment raids, usually in public spaces).
This year, WRI will publish a new handbook for conscientious objection. It's inspired by our Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns, designed by activists for activists, sharing experiences, strategies and inspiration for using conscientious objection as a nonviolent strategy against militarism. Rather than an academic text, it is meant to help CO movements in their campaigns.
Production of the book is being coordinated by Elisa Haf, a Quaker Peace and Social Witness Peaceworker based at WRI (and Forces Watch, whose offices are in the same building as us) for a year. It is being authored by over 30 contributors from Latin America, Europe, North America and the Middle East.
There will be many changes in the WRI office this year. Firstly, we say goodbye to Javier Gárate after ten years working in the office. There will be a chance to say goodbye and thank you to Javier next month! Taking over from Javier as WRI's Nonviolence Programme Worker in mid-February will be Andrew Dey.
A military court in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas has sentenced conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan, to 15 months in jail. The verdict was transformed to a fine of 9,000 Turkish Liras, for “failing to obey orders.” Mehmet is appealing the verdict Mehmet's struggle against the Turkish military has been running for over a decade.
The verdict disregards a previous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), in which they found on a violation of article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and in addition of article 3 (prohibition of torture or inhuman treatment) of the Convention. The Court ruled that the heavy criminal sanctions imposed on those who did not comply with compulsory military service did not strike a proper balance between the general interest of society and that of conscientious objectors.
by Connection e.V. and PRO ASYL
Connection e.V. and PRO ASYL: Much that is negative and little that is positive in the outcome
The network for conscientious objection Connection e.V. and PRO ASYL criticize today’s decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the case of U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd (37) as insufficient and in part quite incomprehensible in its argumentation. “The ruling by the ECJ does not strengthen the position of conscientious objectors and deserters in political-asylum proceedings. The Court avoided some fundamental questions, and answered others unacceptably, contrary to the opinion submitted by the Advocate-General.” said Rudi Friedrich of Connection e.V.
Ruslan Narkuliyev, the last Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector imprisoned in Turkmenistan's Seydi labour camp was released on 17 February in part of a President's amnesty, the Turkmen government's 'Flag Day'. This follows the release of the other eight Jehovah's Witness COs who had been in Seydi labour camp up until October. Ruslan had been sentenced to two years' imprisonment in September 2014.
There remains one Jehovah's Witness conscientious, Soyunmurat Korov, who is still being detained – but in a military hospital. Jehovah's Witness in Turkmenistan told Forum 18 that he is being held against his will.
Sources: Forum 18, http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2009, 28 October 2014; WRI, December CO Update, 12 December 2014; Forum 18, TURKMENISTAN: Two amnestied prisoners, conscientious objector in hospital, beaten "Wahhabis", 19 February 2015
http://antimili-youth.net/ is WRI's web resource focusing on youth militarisation and how to counter it. Recent stories include
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