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Nordicom 2001
November 4th 2001

Statement issued by Nordicom 2001 regarding the preparatory school at Hustad

Nordicom, the annual nordic conference of conscientious objectors, wishes to express its opposition against the state budget motion of the Norwegian Department of Justice, to shut down the preparatory school for the civil conscripts at Hustad Camp.

Nordicom 2001 supports the statements of the Norwegian SVTU that
1) the school must be upheld as an institution
2) the content of the school and the pedagogical structure must be revised radically
3) the economical goal of the state budget can be accomplished by reducing the length of the service for the civil conscripts from fourteen to twelve months, like the period of the military service.

Shutting down one of the few attempts of a peace education in Norway, an initiative which other countries are presently studying eagerly, will not improve the content of the civil service.

Nordicom representatives:

SVTU - Spokesmen of COs, Norway (http://www.sivilarbeider.org)
Asaseistakieltaytyjaliitto - Union of COs, Finland (http://www.aseistakieltaytyjaliitto.fi)
Militćrnćgterforeningen - Danish Organization of COs, Denmark (http://FRED.dk/mnf)

News about the arrest of the anti-militarist CO activist : Sicko released
January 29th 2001

Srdjan Knezevic ("Sicko") was released on January 25 after having been taken to the military court in Nis and held for 24 hours. The Judge stated that it was a matter of control, in relation to Sicko's refusal to return to his military unit in Kosovo during the NATO bombing.

Knowing that Sicko is coordinator of the campaign for the adoption of a CO law and the shortening of military service plus that the Amnesty Law covering this act has already been proposed by the government, this incident cannot but look like a deliberate act of harassment by the authorities. Sicko has given talks about the CO law and the shortening of military service in many towns and has co-ordinated the collection of the 30,000 signatures needed to present the initiative to the parliament. So far, the army has responded extremely negatively to this campaign and articles against it have appeared in the daily Politika.

By detaining Srdjan Knezevic, the Military police managed to prevent Sicko from going to Switzerland where he had been invited by Swiss antimilitarist and Yugoslav emigré organizations to present and inform about the campaign...



12th Arrest for Danish Peace Activist
Press Briefing from TRIDENT PLOUGHSHARES January, 19th, 2001:

Trident Three Member Does it Again : 12th Arrest for Danish Peace Activist

Trident Three member Ulla Röder was arrested this morning at the Coulport Armaments Depot where the warheads for Britain's Trident nuclear missiles are stored.

Ulla (45), from Odense in Denmark, was apprehended at 8.30 a.m. while cutting her way through the security fence after wriggling underneath a gateway on the south side of the complex. At about midnight she had attempted to penetrate the base at the point where the fence meets the water, while fellow activist Ian Thomson distracted the security forces by cutting the fence near the main gate. Ian was also arrested. Both were released this afternoon.

Ulla was one of the three women who in June 1999 disarmed the Trident-related research barge Maytime in Loch Goil and were acquitted by Sheriff Margaret Gimblett in October of the same year. Today's was Ulla's 12th arrest. She said:

"Words without actions are not good enough to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Our only real option is to protect ourselves from the danger of nuclear weapons and protect the environment the best we can, so that we can have a world in peace without the constant threat of nuclear annihilation."

Ulla and her fellow Trident Ploughshares pledgers have been greatly cheered by the acquittal yesterday in Manchester Crown Court of Sylvia Boyes and River, on charges of conspiracy to commit criminal damage. In November 1999 Sylvia and River had attempted to decommission the Trident submarine Vengeance in its dock in Barrow.

Take a look at Trident Ploughshares' website:
http://www.tridentploughshares.org/
Trident Ploughshares e-mail: tp2000@gn.apc.org
Ulla Röder's e-mail address: urdk45@ofir.dk



January 25, 2001 : Bad news in the wake of the announcement of Jugoslav amnesty for conscientious objectors and deserters in hiding...
This is a statement by the Belgrade organization Women in Black concerning the arrest of the co-activist Srdjan Knezevic ("Sicko") from Kraljevo on January 24, 2001.
Women in Black, Belgrade:

STATEMENT

Srdjan Knezevic - Sicko, antimilitarist activist and coordinator of the Network for conscientious objection in Serbia initiated by Women in Black, was arrested by the Military police on January, 24, 2001, at the Belgrade airport.

The arrest followed the charges raised against him by the Military Court in Nis, in relation to his alleged desertion from the Army of Yugoslavia in June 1999. The lawyers from the Yugoslav Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights (YUCOM) believe that he is charged under the article 217, of the Penal Code of FR Yugoslavia for the crime of "Unauthorized leave and escape from the Army of Yugoslavia."

YUCOM has already contacted the Military police, Military Tribunal in Nis, and Belgrade asking for Knezevic's whereabouts, but no other information besides the one on his arrest was released. YUCOM also informed the Ministries of Defense, Interior, and Justice on the case.

Despite democratic changes in Serbia and the announced Amnesty Law, this arrest unfortunately shows that the militarist practice, carried out by some military and police agencies, is still prevailing in Jugoslavia.



Conscientious objectors can return to Yugoslavia
13 January 2001:
Amnesty International today welcomed the provisions of the Amnesty bill - approved yesterday by the parliament of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - which include an amnesty for conscientious objectors to military service in the Yugoslav Army.

The main provisions of the law apply to an estimated 24,000 men, including conscientious objectors and deserters who refused to take part in the conflicts in former Yugoslavia. The bill covers those who refused to take up arms, those who avoided military service or registration for service, and those who deserted from the Yugoslav Army.

"Over the last decade we have supported the rights of the many young men who chose to conscientiously object to military service," said an Amnesty International spokesperson. "We know of many conscientious objectors who were forced to flee abroad and who will now be able to return to their country without fear of persecution."

However, the organization remains concerned the Yugoslav government has not announced that it will provide for a genuine civilian alternative to military service which meets international standards, and urges the government to make this issue a priority. The organization also remains concerned as to whether reservists and others given amnesty under this act will be called up for military service at a future date.

The bill also provides an amnesty to an estimated 1,000 prisoners convicted for "criminal acts" against the Yugoslav military - including those convicted of the offence of "association for hostile activity" under which some of the 800 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo currently held in Serbian prisons have been sentenced. Some of these prisoners may thus be freed.

Unfair trials :
Yet contrary to recent reports in the international media, the scope of the bill does not include the majority of the ethnic Albanian prisoners who have been sentenced to terms of between seven and 12 years' imprisonment on charges of "terrorism". Amnesty International is concerned that the majority of these prisoners have been convicted and sentenced in unfair trials characterized by violations of national and international standards at every stage from pre-trial custody to the trials themselves. The organization has called for a speedy reconsideration of the evidence to establish whether there is case to answer. If not, the prisoners should be released immediately.

Amnesty International therefore welcomes yesterday's statement by Federal Justice Minister Momcilo Grubac acknowledging irregularities in proceedings against the ethnic Albanians - inter alia in the definitions of terrorism used. Amnesty International expects that the Supreme Court will deal swiftly with all appeals made by and on behalf of these ethnic Albanian prisoners.

Conscientious Objectors to Military Service - Some Background Information:

No detailed information about conscientious objectors, draft evaders and deserters was ever released by the Yugoslav authorities, and estimates of the numbers involved vary widely. Many individuals against whom proceedings were brought were sentenced in absentia, having gone into hiding in the FRY or abroad. From 1994 onwards the right of conscientious objection to military service in Yugoslavia was confined to new conscripts who applied for the status within 15 days of receiving a summons for mobilization; this right was not available to reservists, men already serving as conscripts or professional military. The majority of imprisoned conscientious objectors, who were identified by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience, were released from prison in September 2000.

Ethnic Albanian prisoners from Kosovo:
Over 2,000 ethnic Albanians were arrested in Kosovo during the NATO "Operation Allied Force", and subsequently transferred to prisons in Serbia following the withdrawal of the Yugoslav army and Serb military and paramilitary forces from Kosovo. An estimated 800 prisoners remain, others having been released following acquittal, or having served relatively short sentences.

Others were freed before trial following credible allegations that payments were made by prisoners' families via lawyers to court officials.

The paediatrician and humanitarian Dr Flora Brovina, identified by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience was released on 1 November 2000, having served 18 months of a twelve year sentence, following an instruction to the court from newly elected President of Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica.

Check out the Balkan Human Rights Web Pages: http://www.greekhelsinki.gr
The Balkan Human Rights List:
http://www.egroups.com/group/balkanhr/fullinfo.html