This month we're sayingfarewell to Javier Gárate, WRI's Nonviolence Programme Worker for the last ten years, and to Dominique Saillard, WRI's Treasurer for over seven years. Both Javier and Domi have played an enormous role in WRI in recent years – certainly culminating in the great effort in the Cape Town International Conference last July. All of us on the staff and Executive (and far beyond) are going to miss them both enormously. We wish them both well, and trust they will always be part of WRI, though in different (hopefully less work intensive!) way in the future.
See some photos from Javier and Domi's joint leaving party here.
On 10 February groups in South Korea (World Without War), Turkey (Ban Tear Gas Initiative), the UK (Campaign Against Arms Trade and War Resisters' International) took action to demand that a shipment of South Korean tear gas to Turkey be stopped. In recent years, Turkey has repeatedly abused the rights of protesters with the weaponised use of tear gas at demonstrations. But despite human rights concerns, South Korea have issued export licences granting the export of nearly 1.65 million tear gas canisters and grenades to Turkey. At the action in Istanbul protesters were met by riot police, in the words of one of the organisers: "In front of the Korean embassy, 2 full buses of armed riot police, 1 water cannon vehicle, 10 cars of undercover cops were waiting. The consulate general is in a plaza and they didn't let us in. After the protest, the police tried to block us from entering but we reached the Korean embassy employees and delivered the letter to them. Too many press were with us!" (see photos).
The Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is an annual, international day of action against the huge expenditure by governments across the world on militaries, this year taking place on the 13th April 2015. Last year, the Latin America Antimilitarist Network released a statement demanding that resources are invested in society, not the military. As in previous years, WRI will be supporting the day, and inviting affiliates from across the world to take action to challenge to challenge spending on the military in their own context.
Social networking sites have played a huge role in civil resistance in recent years, and they're not going anywhere! A lot WRI's network of affiliates are using social media, and this is a great way to find out news from different countries quickly, and be able to amplify their requests for solidarity and action amongst your contacts too. We've added social media accounts to our information on affiliates here. Those of you on Twitter can also sign up to subscribe to our list of WRI affiliates here. You can also of course follow WRI onTwitter, Facebook and Diaspora.
In the middle a wave of 'emergency conscription' in Ukraine, reports of desertion are high - especially in the West. A mayor of a town in western Ukraine said “At least here mobilisation has been a total failure. People don’t understand what they are fighting against.” However the Ukrainian government has accused Russian government media of inflating desertion figues in a concerted propaganda campaign. Conscription had ended in Ukraine in 2013, but was reimposed in 2014. A new Ukrainian government decree regulates foreign travel for those subject to conscription. It means people could be arrested at border checkpoints, with those found guilty of draft-dodging facing up to five years in prison. Read more in our CO-Update for February; CO-Updates give bimonthly news of conscription, conscientious objection and counter-recruitment around the world. You can subscribe here.