Early this week, War Resisters' International joined a group of international organisations to observe the hearing of Serdar Küni, a doctor and veteran human rights defender in Şırnak, Turkey. Dr. Küni has been kept in custody since October 2016, accused of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) under Article 314/2 of Turkish Penal Code. His first trial, attended by 70 observers, including six observers from Germany, UK, Sweden, Norway and US. took place on 13th March, Monday.
This is an urgent call from the Human Rights Association (HRA - Turkey) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) with whom WRI has been working for many years. In the morning of the 15th March, M.Raci Bilici Chairperson of Human Rights Association (İHD) Diyarbakır Branch and Vice-Chairperson of İHD Headquarters has been arrested along with 11 old and new representatives of the NGOs in Diyarbakır. As reported by the HRFT alleged charges are not learned yet due to the confidentiality order on the investigation file.
Image: WRI activists disrupting the welcome dinner of ADEX, the Seoul arms fair, in October 2015The arms trade is international, but so is our resistance.
In September, WRI are planning to hold their annual Council meeting in London, so that activists from around the world can help British groups to shut down DSEI, the world’s biggest arms fair!
In November 2015, 27 Peace Action Wellington (PAW) activists were arrested for protesting peacefully outside the Weapons Conference in Wellington. 15 of them faced trial last week. Over the course of seven days in court fifteen charges of obstruction, trespass and disorderly behaviour were dismissed or found not guilty due to lack of evidence. In their statement, Peace Action Wellington said
This year's WRI Council meeting will take place in London in September, coinciding with DSEI - Defence & Security Equipment International - the biggest arms fair in the world. We will take part in actions before and after Council to disrupt the fair.
The schedule for our events is as follows:
With the increasing need for solidarity with Turkish civil society, the Bund für Soziale Verteidigung (Foundation for Social Defence) - a WRI affiliate in Germany - are fundraising for 1,400 Euros to print our Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns in Turkish.
This money would go to the Istanbul Nonviolent Education and Research Centre who will then distribute the handbook for free in their nonviolence workshops and trainings. Please help activists in Turkey to improve their skills in nonviolent action through using this handbook!
Please donate here.
A WRI affiliate in the United States of America – War Resisters League – stand 'with all migrants in the U.S., especially the many facing renewed threats of mass deportation under the new Trump administration.' WRL are working to challenge police militarisation and racism, and their campaign #NoSWATzone upholds a vision of “Sanctuary Cities” and sanctuary spaces that provide refuge from the federal raids that Trump promises to bring.
Read their statement and recommended reading and resources here.
This month, War Resisters' International responded to a request for information from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on conscientious objection to military service, towards a quadrennial analytical report on conscientious objection to military service that will presented to the Human Rights Council.
Find the pdf of our submission here.
Every year on 1st December War Resisters' International and its members mark Prisoners for Peace Day, when we publicise the names and stories of those imprisoned for their actions for peace. Many are conscientious objectors, in jail for refusing to join the military. Others have taken nonviolent actions to disrupt preparation for war. Supporters send cards and letters in solidarity. This year, there were also solidarity actions with three conscientious objectors in prison in Israel.
In July of 2012 three disarmament activists in the United States - Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice and Michael Walli - engaged in a nonviolent direct action they dubbed "Transform Now Plowshares" at Oak Ridge, TN's Y12 National Security Complex. Oak Ridge is a site dating back to the beginning of the Manhattan project during World War II and remains an essential link in the nuclear weapons production capability of the US. The three were able to traverse the terrain of the Federal reservation during the night, overcome four security fences, and confront the Highly Enriched Uranium Maintenance Facility (HEUMF) - a repository for 400 metric tons of bomb-grade uranium, enough for 10,000 nuclear weapons. Once there they marked the area with crime scene tape, unfurled peace banners and marked the walls of the building with human blood and spray-painted biblical peace messages.
Hannah from the WRI office, along with Jungmin and Yongsuk of World Without War (WRI's affiliate in Korea) visited Thailand as part of the Right to Refuse to Kill Programme's work to support conscientious objection, and movements against conscription. There's no provision for conscientious objectors in Thailand, but there is resistance!
When we think of social change, we often think of protests, campaigns, and direct action. These are all vital ways to say “no!” to destructive practices and institutions. However, it's equally important that we are building concrete alternatives, where we say “yes!” to the vision of the world we want. Built on the same power analysis as our nonviolent direct action, “constructive programmes” can be powerful acts of resistance.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a call for inputs on the issue of conscientious objection to military service (see attached file).
The compiled information will lead to a new UN report on the topic. The report will provide the most comprehensive outline
On Monday 12 of December, a few days after the anniversary marking 30 years from the first declaration of refusal to enlist on ideological grounds of Mihalis Maragkakis, three new conscientious objectors proceeded to an unprecedented, as for Greece, massive refusal to be examined by the Conscience Examination Committee.
Specifically, the 3 conscientious objectors, responding to the Call to boycott the Conscience Examination Committee, issued by the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors (AGCO), they reported to the Ministry of National Defence. Upon their arrival, the 3 conscientious objectors stated to the Ministry's employee who was escorting them, that they have a common stance, and therefore they wanted to enter altogether in the room in order to declare orally the reasons for holding this stance and to collectively present their protest. When she passed this information to the president of the Committee, Mr. Theodoros Raptis, member of the State's Legal Council, who was entering in the same time, he responded that these things will not be discussed in the corridor, without showing the minimum interest to know what exactly the three objectors had asked for.
The Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors calls on those who have submitted applications in order to be recognized as conscientious objectors and perform alternative service, to boycott, from now on, the Conscience Examination Committee. The existence of a committee, which, like another Holy Inquisition, interrogates the conscientious objectors, violates any sense of the protected right to freedom of conscience.
Furthermore, this interrogation, under the threat of rejection and the subsequent sanctions for insubordination in case the rejected persons insist in their conscientious objection, leads to the collection of data (profiling) of people, based, among other things, on their political beliefs, which they are kept in records of the Ministry of National Defence. What's even worse, the Committee has recently exercised unacceptable pressure to the conscientious objectors under examination, in order to reveal other comrades in their political activities,[i] sometimes even asking the latter to act as testifiers in order to confirm the claims of the applicants. This results either in the profiling of persons beyond the objector under examination, or in the rejection of any applicant who refuses to do so.