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.

Yesterday, the Ukrainian parliament passed a draft amendment to the law on military service in its first reading that will change recruitment practices in the country. Connection e.V. and DFG-VK oppose this tightening and call on the Ukrainian government and the European Union to ensure the protection of conscientious objectors.

On Thursday (1st February), conscientious objector Halil Karapaşoğlu from North Cyprus (self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) was on trial at the Security Forces Court in the northern part of Nicosia for his refusal to respond to the reserve call. Halil's case has been postponed to 14th March, 2024.

EBCO, WRI, IFOR, and Connection e.V. denounce the continuing prosecutions and imprisonments of conscientious objectors in the northern, Turkish-occupied, part of Cyprus (the self-styled “Turkish Republic of North Cyprus”). The right to conscientious objection to military service should be urgently recognised in line with the European and international law and human rights standards.

On Tuesday, 23rd January, conscientious objector Tal Mitnick, 18, from Israel was imprisoned again for his refusal to serve in the military. This is Tal’s second imprisonment and he was sentenced to 30 more days in military prison. He will have spent 60 days behind bars in total upon completion of his second term in prison.

On December 26th, Tal Mitnick, an 18-year-old from Tel Aviv, became the first Israeli conscientious objector imprisoned for their refusal to serve in the army since the start of the war in Gaza. Mitnick declared his conscientious objection at the Tel Hashomer recruitment center and subsequently received a 30-day sentence in military prison.

A report by Human Rights Watch revealed Russian authorities' ongoing conscription and forced enlistment of Ukrainian civilians, including those in detention, in occupied areas into the Russian military, Human Rights Watch. This practice, compelling Ukrainian residents in occupied areas to join the Russian armed forces, unequivocally constitutes a war crime.

Military officials rejected the alternative civilian service applications of four young Baptists in Siberia and the Far East. The four men had all set out their pacifist religious convictions. Brothers Daniil and German Strelkov are preparing to appeal after a court ruled the refusals lawful. Courts twice declined to uphold Zakhar Asmalovsky's lawsuit against the military authorities. Timofey Reznichenko successfully challenged his refusal in court, gaining the right to have his application re-examined.

1st December, Friday, is Prisoners for Peace Day, a day to show solidarity with those activists who have been imprisoned for their work for peace and conscientious objectors imprisoned for their refusal to take up arms. See a list of those imprisoned for their peace activism and conscientious objection below. We include those whose addresses we can obtain, and who are happy to have their names and stories made public.

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