South Korea: After historic breakthrough, conscientious objectors face new challenges
(26.02.2019) South Korea’s Ministry of Defense proposed a system for alternative service to the military on Dec. 28, following a historic decision by the Constitutional Court in June, which ruled that the existing law does not guarantee freedom of conscience.
The court’s decision —which was a major victory for the movement to recognize conscientious objection in South Korea — has sparked a fierce debate over the issue. There have been tangible achievements, such as the Supreme Court finding a conscientious objector to be innocent for the first time ever on Nov. 1. However, the struggle over how the alternative service system will work is just beginning:
Israel: Avnery’s opponents will ultimately have to follow in his footsteps
(20.08.2018) Gush Shalom grieves and mourns the passing of its founder, Uri Avnery. Until the last moment he continued on the way he had traveled all his life. On Saturday, two weeks ago, he collapsed in his home when he was about to leave for the Rabin Square and attend a demonstration against the "Nation State Law", a few hours after he wrote a sharp article against that law.
International delegation went to Diyarbakır and Cizre
(04.05.2016) “Europe has failed us”, is the bitter statement often heard in South East Turkey currently. “We thought that Europe stood for human rights and peace, but unlike when there was war in Turkey in the 1990s, nowadays nobody cares what is happening to us”. An international delegation has visited South East Turkey. The group – organised by international pacifist network War Resisters' International - concluded that the violent conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish PKK has caused enormous suffering and traumatisation among the civilian population of the Kurdish regions of Turkey. According to reports, since August 2015 at least 338 civilians and an unknown number of combatants have died, and more than 400,000 civilians had to flee their homes. According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, about 100,000 of these people have no houses to go back to since their residences were totally destroyed.
South Korea: The Power of International Solidarity
(29.08.2014) It was the result of solidarity efforts between activists at home and abroad that the conscientious objection movement in this ultra-militaristic South Korean society began. In 2000 Karin Lee and John Feffer, who were staff members at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) office in Tokyo and who had been working with many South Korean civic groups, recognised that movements against the Korean military, militarism, conscription system, and other related institutions in Korea were not very active. In July of the same year, Taiwan introduced an alternative military service system. When Karin and John heard this news, they thought that it might be time for South Korea to begin discussing these topics more openly and widely as the circumstances in both Taiwan and South Korea were quite similar with respect to military confrontation, economic growth, and geographical location.