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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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.

"Plowshares is a powerful tradition that speaks just as loudly as we can in the discipline of nonviolence. It breaks the invisibility that protects these weapons from public awareness. It acts as a kind of cosmic theatre at the edge of nuclear disaster. By beating our nuclear swords into plowshares, we enact the imagery of Isaiah 2:4 and speak in a breath the whole manifesto of life without annihilation. It speaks in such volume in part because we go where we would never dare to go.

The following is an email message soliciting international support two Spanish insumisos. We reproduce it here as an illustration of the role that technology (and a very small commitment of time) can play in support to military resisters and prisoners. Postscript: on 21 November 2000, José and Alberto began their imprisonment in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid (see PfP list for address).


Samvel Manukyan (in 07/97, out 05/00)
g Kosh, ITK, Nachalniku, Armenia
Objector, Jehovah's Witness, reported to have been severely beaten.

Karen Voskanian (in 09/98 - expected out 04/01)
g Gyumri, SIZO, Nachalniku, Armenia
Objector, Jehovah's Witness

Gagik Ohanian
Artur Stepanian
Armen Asoian
Grigor Daian
Artur Martirosian
Ruslan Ohanganian
Gurgen Sevoian
All are imprisoned as a result of their conscientious objection to military service.

If instead of being hanged by the neck
you're thrown inside
for not giving up hope
in the world, in your country, in people,
if you do ten or fifteen years
apart from the time you have left,
you won't say
'Better I had swung from the end of a rope like a flag'-
you'll put your foot down and live.
I might not be a pleasure exactly,
but it's your solemn duty
to live one more day
to spite the enemy.
Part of you many live alone inside
like a stone at the bottom of a well.
But the other part
must be so caught up
in the flurry or the world
that you shiver there inside

The Ones Left Behind

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Matt Meyer provides a review of the movement to free the Puerto Rican political prisoners and an exclusive conversation with former prisoner Alejandrina Torres

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