Risto Miinalainen in jail in Finland


19 years old high school student Risto Miinalainen started to serve his 173 days prison sentence today 4 Oct. A group of 20 people, composed of his friends and activists of Finnish Union of Conscientious Objetors, walked with him from his school to the gates of Helsinki prison through the centre of the city today.

Risto was charged on "refusal from civilian service" (siviilipalveluksesta kieltäytyminen). He was sentenced by Eastern Uusimaa district court (Itä-Uudenmaan käräjäoikeus) on 20 April 2016. Helsinki sppeal court (Helsingin hovioikeus) refused to give him a permission to appeal on 6 July. Majority of Finnish total objectors are sentenced to home detention instead of prison, but Risto chose the prison sentence after reading about the negative experiences of some total objectors who has been sentenced to home detention.

Risto refused to do military or substitute service because of his antimilitaristic and pasifistic convictions and as a protest against the defects of the conscription system. He doesn´t want to do civilian service, because it supports conscription and is punitive to conscientious objectors.

Risto aims to provoke discussion about the future of Finnish conscription: ”The current system leads to human rights violations and is expensive to society. These problems are still taboos in Finnish society and the taboos must be dismantled. Factual discussion is difficult when conscription is seen as intrinsic value and the other values are secondary to it,” he says. Finland is still mainting a conscription system where almost 70% of young men do military service.

Risto is going to lodge an individual complaint about his sentence to Europen Court of Human Rights. Other human rights bodies have already criticised the Finnish legislation. Repeatedly, and most recently in 2013, the United Nation's Human Rights Committee has criticised Finland's substitute to military service, which is twice the basic length of military service, and therefore punitive. In its concluding observations of July 2013 the committee urged Finland to extend the privileges granted to Jehovah's Witnesses to other conscientious objectors. So far Finnish government has done nothing to solve these problems. Approximately 50 total objectors will be sentenced to prison or home detention this year.

Risto's address during the sentence:

Risto Miinalainen
Suomenlinna C 86
00190 Helsinki
(in 4.10.2016, out 26.3.2017)

Some pictures about a vigil on our facebook


Reposted from Aseistakieltäytyjäliitto (Union of Conscientious Objectors)

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Related peace activist(s): Risto Miinalainen