Prisoners for Peace

1st December is Prisoners for Peace Day. For over 60 years, War Resisters' International have, on this day, made known the names and stories of those imprisoned because of their actions for peace. Many are conscientious objectors, in gaol for refusing to join the military. Others have taken nonviolent actions to disrupt preparation for war.

This day is a chance for you to demonstrate your support for those individuals and their movements, by writing to those whose freedom has been taken away from them because of their work for peace.

WRI has a permanent Prisoners for Peace list, which we make a special effort to update for Prisoners for Peace Day on December 1st.

Pedro Oliver of KEM-MOC (the Basque CO Movement) evaluates the prison experience of insumisos as a political tool.

From the very beginning, in 1989, MOC and other anti-militarist groups have endeavoured to make their total resistance campaign ("Insumisión") its own best antidote against state repression.

This Prisoners for Peace list was originally published as a supplement to the December 1997 Peace News, which is sent to Broken Rifle subscribers as issue number 40. It is also published in French, Spanish and German in those language editions of The Broken Rifle. If you would like a copy of the newsletter in one of these languages, please contact the WRI office at 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 90X. Britain (fax +44 171 278 0444; email office@wri-irg.org). The list and individual articles can also be forwarded by fax or by email on request.

Well, okay... not exactly. So far, we are still safely in our seats. But if we were in Tibet, it could be a very different story. A 60-year-old tailor and a 58 year-old businessman were sentenced to nine and six years respectively after a court found them guilty of putting together a list of cur-rent and released Tibetan prisoners. They were convicted of espionage, since their alleged intention was to send the list abroad. Apparently one of the men had committed the "crime" of passing this letter on to another Tibetan for delivery to India.

CYPRUS

There are religious COs currently imprisoned in southern Cyprus, but they do not wish to have their names published. They face up to 26 months in prison.

FINLAND

Jukka Lassila
Uudenmaan Laaninvankila
Avovankilaosasto
PL 20
05401 Jokela
Finland
(in 2/6/97 -- out 18/12/97)
Total objector

Timo Saarelma
Same address as above
(in 03/11/97 -- out 20/05/98)
Total objector

Editorial

Placheolder image

International Prisoners for Peace Day, 1 December, is a time to remember, to salute nonviolently, and to send our love, letters and cards to imprisoned antimilitarists around the world. Pacifist prisoners are often at the heart of anti-militarist struggles. and it's fitting that they should enjoy a special place in our calendar as well as in our hearts and minds.

Surviving in prison

Placheolder image

Stephen Hancock Prison conjures up hundreds of images and feelings. And covers a variety of institutions and experiences - from hell-holes of torture and deprivation to well-resourced open campuses. Each person's experience is shaped by myriad factors: gender, race, age, sexuality, geography, character, regime, prisoners, prison officers, family relationships, political climate, and support. Even within one country prison varies enormously. I have stayed in three different English prisons, twice for one week and once for six months.

1 December is Prisoners for Peace Day

Every December, War Resisters' International invites supporters to send greeting cards to prisoners for peace. This Honour Roll includes imprisoned conscientious objectors and nonviolent activists who have tried to obstruct war preparations. Each year, we also focus on one of the nonviolent struggles around the world: this year it is in Burma, where a military régime suppresses democratic organisations and wages a war against tribal groups.

As well as being Prisoners for Peace Day, 1 December is now World AIDS Awareness Day. Insumisión Rosa (Pink Resistance), the gay group in MOC-Madrid, hand out the following text:

Since objectors have been going to prison, we have denounced the treatment of people deprived of their liberty and of prison rules which block the flee circulation of syringes and condoms.

The Prisoners for Peace honour roll cannot include all the nonviolent social activists imprisoned in the pursuit of peace, freedom, and justice. Every year, however, WRI highlights one such struggle-this year, the focus is on nonviolent civil resistance to military rule in Nigeria.

By DOMINIQUE SAILLARD

When news of the hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists spread to the world's press on Saturday 11 November, almost everybody shook their head in disbelief.

AUSTRIA The defence ministry has been conscripting Jehovah's Witnesses since 1 April 1994. Last year over 35 religious objectors spent between 6 days and 6 1/2 months in jail. There are currently 3 Jehovah's Witnesses in prison. COLOMBIA

Luis Gabriel Caldas León
Carrera 34A este
#91A-39 Sur
Bogotá
Colombia
(in 06/95 - out 02/96)
Jailed for desertion despite never having joined the armed forces.

CYPRUS

There are over 100 COs sentenced to prison in southern Cyprus every year, all of them Jehovah's Witnesses. At least nine COs are facing trial at the end of November and might be imprisoned. One of them, with very poor eye-sight and a heart condition, is 53 years old. Many COs face repeated sentences, as they continue to refuse conscription once they are released. (Under a law introduced in January 1992, COs have the alternatives of 34 months unarmed service in a military camp, or 42 months civilian service.

Every December, War Resisters' International invites sympathisers to send greeting cards to prisoners for peace. This Honour Roll includes imprisoned conscientious objectors and nonviolent activists who have tried to obstruct war preparations. Each year, we also focus on one of the nonviolent struggles around the world: this year it is in Tibet.

Subscribe to Prisoners for Peace