The annual report 1999 of Militærnægterforeningen, the Danish organization of conscientious objection.
Member record - again!
Once again, Militærnægterforeningen (the MNF) was able to look back at a year of yet another member record. With 16 more members than in 1998, the MNF was finally able to pass the ’magic line’ of 150 and was proud to present no less than 158 members by December 1999!
As for antimilitarism in a world perspective, things were, however, not quite as jolly but actually rather bleak - first of all thanks to the intensive bombings on Serbia caused by NATO and thereby also Denmark. Secondly, the number of COs in Denmark went down; quite a surprising turn in the development in this field, even when the decrease in the national number of conscripts is considered. Once again, NATO’s heavy bombarding of Kosovo as well as the world media seemed to hold the explanation.
MNF’s primary task is the spread of antimilitarist information from the offices in Copenhagen and Århus. The latter is open weekdays between noon and 3 p.m. whereas the office in Copenhagen is open Tuesdays and Thursdays between 6 and 8 p.m. The number of people addressing themselves to the MNF is constantly rising and there has been quite a significant increase of activity especially in the field of the electronic media (e-mail and the internet). Thus the office in Copenhagen receives a large number of e-mails every week pertaining a variety of questions about consciption and conscientious objection as well as requisitions (i.e. orders about memberships, t-shirts, information material, etc.).
MNF is very pleased that a large percentage of our information material about conscientious objection can now be seen at our homepages (www.fred.dk/mnf). Here, the number of visitors have gone up with an explosive speed ever since 1998; at present nearly 1000 visitors drop by our pages every month. A splendid way of spreading the message of antimilitarism....
The NB Magazine
The presentation of MNF’s member magazine NB as we see it today was established in 1998 and further ’refined’ in 1999. As for the content of NB, the subject of NATO’s 50 years anniversary and the following celebration (bombs over Serbia) was covered intensively. In this regard, NB also took a closer look at many of the problems in the situation of Serbian COs – in Serbia as well as in Denmark where they were frequently refused the right to asylum.
Finally, another subject of interest was the ghost of the secret services that came back to hit the headlines in the fall of ’99.
1999 became quite a good year for the MNF in terms of media coverage. The publication in January of the highest number of COs since the 1970s made headlines in newspapers and became the basis of interviews and quotations on the radio as well as on TV (various channels). Also, the Copenhagen Radio covered the action on the International Day of COs (May 15) very nicely, yet the greatest scoop was seen in August when the Danish ’Generalauditør’ (Chief Investigator of the Army) published his report on Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste, the Army’s Secret Service. During the process of his investigation, the Generalauditør had found that information about members of the MNF had been handled in an unauthorized way by agents of the FE. In reaction hereto, MNF quickly put out a couple of press releases and was once again interviewed and quoted in newspapers as well as on the radio and on TV.
The MNF has held a stable level of outgoing activity in the shape of for example the so-called ”sessions-raids,” which consist of handing out information leaflets to the future conscripts in front of the Military’s medical examination offices in Copenhagen, and ”STORMs”, i.e. lectures and distribution of information at study oriented meetings at high schools). The MNF was also represented at a debate meeting in Skive (Jutland).
On the 15th of May, the International Day of COs, MNF put a focus on the Serbian COs who had escaped from the war in Kosovo. Their desertion had been appreciated by the western governments – until the moment when the COs began to seek asylum from those very same goverments. All through spring and early summer, the MNF participated in various anti-war activities and peace demonstrations arranged by the joint forces of the Danish peace movement (including the MNF).
On the 1st of December, the International Prisoners of Peace Day, MNF once afgain focused on the conditions of the Serbian COs on whom the authoritites are closing dangerously in these days...
Only modest travel activity was seen in 1999 where MNF concentrated our efforts on the European Future’s Congress, which this year took place in Prague, and on the Nordico, the Nordic Organization of COs, which took place in Oslo. In this respect, MNF wishes to thank our Norwegian friends for economic support.