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Barcelona, May 15th 2010
May 15, World Conscientious Objection Day in Barcelona
On World Conscientious Objection Day EBCO board held its annual meeting in Barcelona and supported a series of activities organised by EBCO’s Catalan member organisation,Moviment per la Pau (Movement for Peace), to commemorate the anniversary of 10 YEARS WITHOUT MILITARY SERVICE IN SPAIN AND 25 YEARS OF THE MOVIMENT FOR PEACE, a key actor in this process. The representatives of conscientious objectors in Europe were received by the President of the Catalan Parliament Mr. Ernest Benachand held a one day conference in the Open University in Barcelona.
“The abolition of military service was a popular and democratic conquest, as a result of social and civic participation, and it’s important to extract good practices from the results obtained with the abolition of military service for other dynamics, analyze the role Catalonia played in its abolition and serve as a platform to set out the peace agenda in the European Union”, stated Mr. Jordi Tolrà, Representative of the Movement for Peace.
“We are deeply disappointed that the E.U. gives no solution to the grave human rights violations persisting in Member States and Candidate Member States regarding conscientious objectors, although the right to conscientious objection is recognised under Article 10 of the E.U. Charter of Fundamental Rights. Conscientious objectors in the E.U. should be able to exercise their right to refuse to kill without facing any discrimination or prosecution. Conscientious objectors from third countries should be granted refugee status when they are seeking asylum in E.U.”, said Mr. Gerd Greune, EBCO President.
"It is not the time to split the Union because of self-made financial crisis as politicians and media in various countries are trying, but to end the waste of resources for military spending and to reduce the number of soldiers within the E.U.. Tax payers in the E.U. are spending more than 400 billion Euros for the military. 1.2 million soldiers in Europe are more than unacceptable", Mr. Greune added.
EBCO criticises Britain where a former professional soldier, Joe Glenton, had refused to serve in Afghanistan "for reasons of principle", is still imprisoned, having lost his appeal against a nine-month sentence. EBCO urges Britain to fully recognise the human right to conscientious objection and stop the prosecutions of conscientious objectors.
EBCO criticises Greece where already in 2010 two conscientious objectors were convicted to prison sentences by military courts: Giorgos Monastiriotis, former professional soldier who refused to participate in the war in Iraq on ideological grounds in 2003, was convicted to five-month suspended prison sentence; and Evangelos Mihalopoulos, ideological conscientious objector who refused to serve the punitive civilian service in 2007, was convicted to eight-month suspended prison sentence. EBCO urges Greece to stop the prosecutions of conscientious objectors and fully comply with the European standards on conscientious objection. EBCO welcomes the decision of the Greek Minister of Defence to review the Greek law on civilian service and calls for a purely civilian service of equal duration to the military service, with no restrictions and exclusions.
EBCO criticises Turkey, where Enver Aydemir, is still in prison sentenced to ten-month imprisonment because of his conscientious objection based on his religious beliefs as a Muslim. EBCO urges Turkey to fully recognise the human right to conscientious objection, stop the prosecutions of conscientious objectors and implement the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the Ülke case.
EBCO criticises the last 7 out of the 27 E.U. member states which are still imposing conscription this year (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Germany), and especially Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece where civilian service remains punitive (in the northern part of Cyprus the right to conscientious objection is not even recognised).
EBCO welcomes the recent Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)4 of the Council of EuropeCommittee of Ministers to member states on the human rights of members of the armed forces (24 February 2010). The Recommendation stipulates amongst others that “professional members of the armed forces should be able to leave the armed forces for reasons of conscience” and that they “should not be subject to discrimination or to any criminal prosecution”.