Prisoners for Peace Day to remember war resisters around the world

By staff writers
28 Nov 2012

People around the world are preparing to mark 'Prisoners for Peace' day on Saturday (1 December). War Resisters' International (WRI) have been marking the day for over fifty years, making known the names and stories of those imprisoned for their actions for peace.

Some are conscientious objectors, detained for their refusal to join the military. Others have taken nonviolent direct actions to disrupt preparations for war.

WRI say that the day is also a chance for members of the public to demonstrate their support. 

"We invite you to put aside some time on December 1st, and send cards that express your solidarity," explained WRI. "You might want to gather a group from your community, church or friends and write together."

Sergeiy Sandler, a conscientious objector in Israel, said, "I can testify to the importance of the scores of support messages I received from people all over the world. They lifted my spirit when I was behind bars."

Current prisoners for peace include Kimberly Rivera, a conscientious objector in the USA. She joined the US Army and fought in Iraq.

Whilst there, Rivera began to seriously doubt the justification of the war and her participation in it. Coupled with her study of the Bible, she decided as a matter of moral conscience she could no longer participate in the war.

Rivera fled to Canada, where she was refused refugee status and forcibly returned to the US. She was immediately taken into custody, where she remains.

She is likely to be court-martialled for desertion and jailed for between two and five years. She has four children.

Another prisoner is Lee Young-chan, who is detained in South Korea. He is a Jesuit Priest and campaigner against the construction of a naval base on the island of Jeju. He was arrested on 24 October on charges of obstruction of business, whilst protesting against the arrest of another peace activist. He remains in custody.

A WRI spokesperson explained, "In writing your cards, think about what you would like to receive if you were in prison – maybe include photos, or drawing, telling them about your life, and what you are doing to stop war. Include your name and address, but don't expect a reply – this may not be possible."

War Resisters International maintain a list of prisoners' contact details at http://www.wri-irg.org/programmes/pfp.

[Ekk/1]

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