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.

Objectors' stories

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Dong Hyuk Na

For 50 years, since the Korean War, about 10,000 COs have been imprisoned. Most of those COs were Jehovah's Witnesses. Not until the 21st century did COs who have ideological, political beliefs appear amid serious reflection on militarism and nationalism. The anti-war movement in Korea, which began after 11 September 2001, exerted a great influence on their conviction against war and for peace. I am one of those and the fourth objector for nonreligious reasons.

Sang Youl Sohn

Many people think that the crisis on the Korean peninsula started in the wake of North Korea's nuclear development. However, contrary to what is commonly known, it is right to think that the crisis initiated from the aggressive nuclear and military policies made by the US, and military approach to this by North Korea made the crisis more complicated.

Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights

5F., CISJD Bldg., #35 Chungjoengno 2(I)-ga, Seodaemun-gu Seoul 120-012 tel +82-2-393 9085 fax +82-2-363 9085 email

World Without War

2F., 242-73 Sangdo 4-dong, dongjak-gu Seoul 156-806 Tel: +82-2-815-4477 Email:

Korean House for International Solidarity

2F., 32 Wonseo-dong, Jongno-gu Seoul 110-280 Tel: +82-2-3675-5808 Fax: +82-2-3673-5627 Email:

Young-il Hong

The history of conscientious objection on the Korean Peninsula dates back to 1939. As Japanese Jehovah's Witnesses who had refused military service began to be arrested on 21 June, the wave of arresting Jehovah's Witnesses began to sweep through Taiwan on 22 June and Korea on 29 June. As a result, 33 Jehovah's Witnesses were indicted in Korea. Most of the Jehovah's Witnesses working in Korea from 1939 to the end of the second world war were imprisoned on account of conscientious objection.

Jung-min Choi

Only early in 2001 the concept of "objection to military service" became known to the Korean public. A current affairs magazine reported on a forum on the military service system, including the right to conscientious objection. It especially reported on the history of Jehovah's Witnesses CO. Since the formation of the Korean army, over 10,000 objectors (mostly Jehovah's Witnesses) have spent time behind bars. The public has treeted them as nonexistent.


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Prisoners for Peace Day 2003 focuses on the young movement of conscientious objectors in South Korea. Although conscientious objection in young in terms of a movement, the history of imprisonment of conscientious objectors--of Jehovah's Witnesses--goes back a long while. More than 10,000 Jehovah's Witnesses have been imprisoned in the last 50 years for their conscientious objection, mostly to three years imprisonment, and until recently often several times.

War Resisters' International was founded in 1921 under the name "Paco". It was and is based on the WRI declaration:

"War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war."

War Resisters' International exists to promote nonviolent action against the causes of war, and to support and connect people around the world who refuse to take part in war or the preparation of war.

Regional contacts

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OSI Assistance Foundation Armenia
1 Pushkin St, apt 11
Yerevan 375010

Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan
PO Box 31
Baku 370000
Eldar Zeynalov (Director)

Intiative Group of War Resisters' International - Georgia
144 Dolidze St
Tbilisi 380071
Usha Nanuashvili

Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law
Masanchy St 57a/404-405
480012 Almaty
Evgenii Zhovtis

How the list works First are prisoners' names (in bold), followed by their sentence (normally in international yyyy/mm/dd format), then their place of imprisonment -- prisoners held in the same location for the same reason are grouped together -- and, finally the reason for their detention (in italics). Information about countries where prisoners have had their sentences suspended, or where sentences have been served or completed during the year are also given in brief explanatory paragraphs. Action On 1 December, put aside


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Prisoners for Peace Day 2002 focuses on a region - or maybe we should say two regions - which normally do not receive much attention from the peace movement, or from the public in general: the Caucasus and Central Asia. It is high time the peace movement took notice of these regions - the military and the global oil business quietly managed to get in there already.

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