International Prisoners for Peace Day, 1 December, is a time to remember, to salute nonviolently, and to send our love, letters and cards to imprisoned antimilitarists around the world. Pacifist prisoners are often at the heart of anti-militarist struggles. and it's fitting that they should enjoy a special place in our calendar as well as in our hearts and minds.
Prisoners for peace find themselves at the heart of a violent institution - the day to day grind and isolation of prison life is a form of state violence that should neither be forgotten nor under-estimated. The line between a tolerable day and getting on the wrong side of a prison officer or fellow prisoner is a thin and vulnerable one.
Such vulnerability can be counter balanced by good, reliable and loving support from the out-side, but it never disappears.
Such vulnerability is an essential part of nonviolent philosophy and practice. If the worst comes to the worst, we are prepared to endure violence but never prepared to inflict it. It's a clever naiveté, but by no means guarantees bloodless revolutions, prison-free lives or hassle-free prison sentences.
The struggle against conscription by anti-militarists in the state of Spain has been a dynamic and fascinating one. Hundreds of insumisos - total resisters who refuse both military service and alternative civilian service - have spent up to 28 months (and one day) behind bars, and have created and sustained a vital anti-militarist movement capable of making links with, and engaging in, other struggles. On page ii of this Prisoners for Peace supplement, Pedro Oliver evaluates the role and effects of such wide scale imprisonment.
Serdar Tekin from Turkey evaluates a more specific case of imprisonment that of Osman Murat Ülke - and the rippling effects just one act of conscience has had on Turkish society (see page vi).
It is not just antimilitarists who end up in prison and voiced our support throughout the world, people engaged in struggles for peace and justice find themselves in potentially lonely prison cells. On page vii, Grace Livingstone writes about the landless peasants movement of Brazil.
And on page viii we include a controversial piece by Xabi Agirre Aranburu arguing that peacemaking includes the imprisonment of war criminals.
To our imprisoned pacifist friends, known and unknown, throughout the world we send our love - whether you're having a good day, a bad day or just another boring stuck-in-the-cell-wish-you-were elsewhere day ... La lucha continua!
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