Right to Refuse to Kill

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War Resisters' International's programme The Right to Refuse to Kill combines a wide range of activities to support conscientious objectors individually, as well as organised groups and movements for conscientious objection.

Our main publications are CO-Alerts (advocacy alerts sent out whenever a conscientious objector is prosecuted) and CO-Updates (a bimonthly look at developments in conscientious objection around the world).

We maintain the CO Guide - A Conscientious Objector's Guide to the International Human Rights System, which can help COs to challenge their own governments, and protect themselves from human rights abuses.

Information about how nation states treat conscientious objectors can be found in our World Survey of Conscientious Objection and recruitment.

More info on the programme is available here.

On the occasion of International Conscientious Objection Day, on 15th May 2024, we are launching the international action #RefuseWar! Join us with your statements against the militarisation of our societies and in solidarity with conscientious objectors worldwide.

EBCO, WRI, IFOR, and Connection e.V. strongly condemn the third (!) imprisonment of Turkish-Cypriot reservist conscientious objector Halil Karapaşaoğlu. We call on the authorities in the "TRNC" to urgently amend the Military Service Act so as to recognise the right of conscientious objection to military service, and to implement the Murat Kanatlı v Türkiye judgement of the European Court of Human Rights.

On 5th April, Thai conscientious objector and human rights activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal declared his conscientious objection in front of a military conscription centre in Samut Prakarn province, openly stating his beliefs instead of complying with a call-up. Connection e.V., War Resisters’ International, the Movement for Conscientious Objectors, Conscientious Objection Watch, New Profile and World Without War are calling for conscientious objection to be fully recognised in Thailand.

Every year on 15th May, International Conscientious Objection Day (CO Day), we organise solidarity with conscientious objectors (COs) and draw attention to their resistance to war. This year, together with our partners, we are launching the #RefuseWar action, as part of which you can submit your statements of solidarity with COs on our interactive map. 

In late March a Lviv Region court sentenced Protestant conscientious objector Serhy Stadnitsky to a 3-year jail term for refusing mobilisation on grounds of conscience. "I don't want to kill people," he told Forum 18, adding that "of course" he would be willing to perform alternative civilian service. Two days later, a Sumy Region court handed a Jehovah's Witness a similar sentence. Both are due to go to prison if their appeals fail. The one known prisoner, Dmytro Zelinsky, awaits a Supreme Court appeal on 13 June.

In February 2024, the military regime ruling Myanmar announced that it was mobilizing a “People’s Military Service Law”. The law allows for the conscription of male citizens aged 18 to 35 and female citizens aged 18 to 27. The announcement has caused fear and loathing among the country’s 14 million young people and their families.

On 7 February, Yerevan's Criminal Court of Appeal rejected 20-year-old Baptist conscientious objector Davit Nazaretyan's appeal against a two-year jail term imposed in October 2023 for refusing military service. The judges ignored European Court of Human Rights judgments, including against Armenia. Nazaretyan's applications for alternative civilian service were repeatedly denied. He is considering a further appeal and will not be required to go to jail until any further appeal is heard. The last known jailed conscientious objector was freed in 2021.

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