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.

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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On 1 December, put aside at least one hour and write at least four cards to prisoners; Get your peace group or class or place of worship to organise a card-writing session; Set up a stall in your town centre, perform a bit of street theatre, or do whatever else it takes to attract attention and interest. Sending cards and letters Always send your card in an envelope; Include a return name and address on the envelope; Be chatty and creative: send photos from your life, drawings; Tell prisoners what you are doing
How the list works First are prisoners' names (in bold), followed by their sentence (in brackets, where known), then their place of imprisonment (in bold), 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

On 12 September 2001, Gevork Palyan, a Jehovah's Witness, was sentenced to one year imprisonment for refusing military service on

CO activist Sergeiy Sandler reports on the rising tide of objection to military service in Israel during the second intifada.

Thirty-two people is a small number. A demonstration with thirty-two participants would hardly be worthy of the word. But since October 2000, thirty-two people were imprisoned or otherwise penalised in Israel for refusing to perform military duty on conscientious and political grounds.

Bojan Aleksov writes:

Dear friends and supporters of War Resisters' International,

Resisting war and militarism in many countries still means arrest and imprisonment. Pacifists and anti-militarists who resist state violence in the form of conscription, war tax, military expenditures, nuclear arms or military support to dictatorial regimes often end up as victims of other forms of state violence, which include physical torture or long prison terms.

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