Right to Refuse to Kill

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.

In June 2018, South Korea's Constitutional Court made a landmark ruling recognising conscientious objection. In its ruling, the Court obligated lawmakers to change the law accordingly and initiate alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors by the end of 2019. After more than a year since the ruling, the National Assembly is still reviewing the proposed bills on alternative civilian service.

Exiled conscientious objectors from Turkey published a call to refuse the war in Northern Syria: “Refuse! Resist! Don’t be a soldier!” They declared: “This is an illegal war that contradicts international treaties. Those who make the decision to invade, those who participate in it, and those who offer support should know that they are committing a crime against humanity!”

Three conscientious objectors, all Jehovah's Witnesses, returning to Transdniester (a self-declared state in the eastern part of Moldova) to visit family were called up for military service in May, and banned from leaving. "I've been living with this uncertainty for nearly half a year, unable to leave, work or relax," Mikhail Yeremeyev told Forum 18. Proposed Alternative Service Law amendments would subjugate alternative service applications to the personnel needs of the military.

Russian Federation Armed Forces have conscripted a record-high number of 3,300 local men from the occupied Crimea in its latest conscription campaign, a recent report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated. According to the report, since 2017, 29 Crimean residents have been convicted of draft evasion, which is punishable up to two years imprisonment according to Russian law.

Unjust laws and human rights violations force many people to flee their countries and risk drowning to reach Europe via passing through the Mediterranean Sea. Saving the lives of those who are facing death is the first human duty. But now, the Italian law prevents NGOs from search and rescue activities of those people drowning in sea. Because of this context, a number of individuals from Italy launched an appeal for conscientious objection to disobey the relevant law and for saving human lives.

I am a conscientious objector; this means I will not take part in conscription or government required military service in Thailand. Military rule has dominated Thai society, not only now but also for a long time, and its power increases every year. However the Thai army is a joke for people around the world.

The 23-year-old Jehovah's Witness Muhammetali Saparmyradov was jailed for one year in March for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. He has joined 11 other jailed conscientious objectors in the labour camp in Seydi. Labour camp officials refused to discuss their prison conditions with Forum 18.

This article was first published on +972 Magazine on 27 May 2019.

An IDF disciplinary body sentenced Israeli conscientious objector Roman Levin to 30 days in military prison last week for his refusal to continue serving in the military.

Upon completing his current sentence, he will have served a total of 80 days behind bars. Military conscription is mandatory for most Jewish Israelis.

Every year on 15th May, we celebrate International Conscientious Objection Day. On this day, we remember and celebrate conscientious objectors' resistance for peace, their refusal to bears arms and take part in war - throughout history and today. This year, we're focusing on Colombia and standing in solidarity with Colombian conscientious objectors. Read more here how you can support Colombian conscientious objectors.

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