This Friday, 15th May, is International Conscientious Objection Day. This year, War Resisters’ International office, together with Connection e.V., has called for an online action, calling for your video messages celebrating this day, sharing your stories as conscientious objectors (COs) as well as your solidarity messages with COs. All these videos will be available tomorrow on International Day of Conscientious Objection on our YouTube channel Refuse to Kill.
This year on this day, we particularly draw attention to those who have to leave their countries of origin due to forced recruitment and who are looking for protection in other countries. They are denied the human right of conscientious objection. But to flee from war and forced recruitment is generally not seen as a reason for asylum. Women and men who refuse compulsory recruitment to the military need protection!
The contributions we received from all over the world are varied and colourful, just as varied are the reasons why people from different countries make the decision to refuse war and military service, sometimes at great risk. To date, we have received contributions from Angola, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Eritrea, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.”
Actions/events happening on International Conscientious Objection Day (to be updated)
In Colombia, a coalition of antimilitarist and CO organisations, including Cuerpo Con-siente, Justapaz, CONOVA, BDS-Colombia, ACOOC, among others, are holding a Virtual Antimilitarist Festival on May 15-16, from 9am to 5pm (Colombia time), you can join them on Justapaz's Facebook live.
Also, the Kolectivo Antimilitarista de Medellín and La tulpa are organising an online forum on education in nonviolence and antimilitarism on May 15 at 3pm (Colombia time) on Facebook Live of Escuela de Experiencias Vivas and here https://www.pluriversonarrativo.com/
European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) is organising an online action, #Militarydistancing, and inviting all to share their peace messages on social media with the hashtags #MilitaryDistancing on 15th May. Find more information about EBCO's action here: https://ebco-beoc.org/node/465
In Germany, activists from local groups of DFG-VK (Frankfurt and Offenbach), Connection e.V. and Pro Asyl will gather (3:00 pm CEST) in Frankfurt (Hauptwache) to call for asylum for conscientious objectors and deserters. They will 'construct' the slogan „Conscientious Objectors and Deserters need Ayslum“ by means of modular components as in this short video: https://youtu.be/HNFWg9fY44I
Activists from DFG-VK (northern groups) will hold a vigil (from 12 am to 2 pm CEST) at the military airfield of Jagel nearby Schleswig (Schleswig-Holstein), holding banners for conscientious objectors and criticising Germany's involvement in numerous wars abroad. The activity will take place in the framework of a regional networking meeting with discussions on how to organise counter-recruitment work under the new circumstances of Covid-19.
In South Korea, World without War, together with refugee rights and transgender rights groups, hosted an online 'talk-show' for the CO Day. The event highlighted and criticised how the refugee screening, transgender gender correction screening, and conscientious objector screening processes are militarised. You can see it here (in Korean): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIuPDm99zsc&feature=youtu.be
In Turkey, Conscientious Objection Association is organising an online workshop with a live broadcast on Youtube. The event will cover frequently asked questions by the followers of the Association, informing conscientious objectors, draft evaders and deserters about their legal rights, as well as including declarations by conscientious objectors. The broadcast (in Turkish) can be followed on 15th May, 7:00pm Turkish time, here: youtube.com/meydanorg
In Ukraine, Ukrainian Pacifist Movement (UPM), who recently joined WRI network, will host a webinar, the Right to Refuse to Kill in Ukraine. The main language of the event will be Ukrainian, but UPM activists will be able to answer questions and give additional information in English.
In the UK, a coalition of British peace organisations will host an online ceremony at 12 midday UK time. There will be a minute's silence, songs and speeches on past and present experiences of conscientious objection (including a speaker from Network of Eritrean Women). Alongside this event, activists in Scotland and Leicester will also host online events. In Scotland, a group of peace organisations will host an online vigil (5:30pm UK time), including stories of COs from the First and Second World Wars told by their descendants, profiles of contemporary COs and an update on work in support of COs at the UN. Find more information here: https://www.facebook.com/events/215790349746205/
In Leicester, Leicester CND, Soka Gakkai, Community of Christ and other faith groups will host an online event called 'All voices for peace' (6:00pm UK time). The event will include stories of conscientious objectors from different faith and ideological backgrounds from around the world. You can join online with Zoom here: zoom.us/j/492546725?pwd=WXVCQUoyZ0I5bmxYZ1F5WjhZQS9EUT09
In the USA, San Diego Veterans For Peace and the Peace Resource Center Interactive Panel are organising an online panel, Celebrating 4000 Years of Conscientious Objection. The event will "examine our right to live by our conscience in a state dedicated to ongoing wars and aggression." To participate and find more information see here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2548413165424207/
War Resisters' International office and Connection e.V. are organising an online action, Refuse to Kill, as part of which a number of video messages from conscientious objectors and their supporters are shared. You can reach all videos here on Refuse to Kill channel : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0WZGT6i5HO14oLAug2n0Nw/videos