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.


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Turkish conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan is on hunger strike for more than 32 days today, and War Resisters' International is very concerned about his health, and long-term health consequences this hunger strike might have. We therefore urge you to make your protest heard with the Turkish authorities, to fulfill Mehmet Tarhan's demands, so that he, and his friend Ali, can end their hunger strike.

1 December Prisoners for Peace Day

Every year for 1 December - International Prisoners for Peace Day - War Resisters' International compiles a list of people imprisoned for conscientious objection or nonviolent action for peace.

This year, the focus will be on Eritrea, a country destroyed by war and an authoritarian regime, and where the only option for conscientious objectors - men and women - is to flee the country.

Please order the campaign pack (available early in November) in English, Spanish, French or German.

More information on Eritrea at

1 December - Prisoners for Peace Day This year's focus: conscientious objection in Finland

The special edition of WRI's The Broken Rifle, incorporating the annual Prisoners for Peace Honour Roll, is available online in English, German, French, and Spanish. Please contact the WRI Office if you require print copies, or feel free to download the material from our website, and make your own copies.

After the rulings of the Korean Supreme Court and Constitutional court earlier this year, the Korean courts are now picking up on trials against conscientious objectors. More than 750 conscientious objectors are in prison on Prisoners for Peace Day. Besides Jehovah's Witnesses and 7th Day Adventists, also the number of pacifist conscientious objectors is on the rise. On 15 November, seven pacifist COs were in prison.

O Taeyang (30), a pacifist and buddhist.


Imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Finland

The focus of Prisoners for Peace Day 2004 is the imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Finland. Finland, a member state of the European Union, continues to imprison conscientious objectors who refuse to perform a substitute service which is punitive in length.

The Broken Rifle

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The Broken Rifle is the newsletter of War Resisters' International, and is published in English, Spanish, French and German. This is issue 64, November 2004.

This issue of The Broken Rifle was produced by Andreas Speck. Special thanks go to Kaj Raninen and Simo Hellsten from Finland, to Amnesty International and Forum 18 News Service, who provided the information used in this issue.

If you want extra copies of this issue of The Broken Rifle, please contact the WRI office, or download it from our website.

Several groups and organisations work to support conscientious objectors in Finland

Union of Conscientious Objectors, Peace Station, Veturitori, 00520 Helsinki, Finland
tel +358 9 140427; fax 147297

In July 2001, Jussi Hermaja was sentenced by a Finnish court for total objection - nothing special, just one of about 70 cases per year. However, unlike most other conscientious objection, Jussi Hermaja did not report to prison, but fled to Belgium in October 2001, and applied for asylum. This was the beginning of a very special asylum case.

How the list works First are prisoners' names (in bold), followed by their sentence, then their place of imprisonment and, finally the reason for their detention Information about countries where prisoners have had their sentences suspended, or where sentences have been served or completed during the year are in italics. Armenia

Although Armenia passed a law on conscientious objection during the year, the country continues to imprison conscientious objectors.

The defence of the entire country is only possible if general conscription is maintained. The high educational standard of conscripts makes it possible, with the current periods of service, to provide conscript training in even the more demanding tasks, and to recruit high-quality personnel for international crisis management tasks and for the professional personnel posts in the Defence Forces.

Militarism in Finland

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Kaj Raninen

In its own way, Finland is a very militarised country, although it might not look like that at first sight. Finnish militarism does not mean that the military is strikingly visible in society or that it necessarily has more influence in the society than in other Western European countries. It is rather a state of mind, a historically constructed way of thinking, according to which Finland is always under military threat - even when no one has got any idea who might cause this threat or no one can imagine a situation where it might materialise.

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