London ceremony for International Conscientious Objectors Day

By staff writers
May 13, 2016

This year marks the centenary of the Military Service Act of 2016 which made unmarried British men between the ages of 18 and 41 liable to conscription. The Bill also recognised the right to conscientious objection for the first time.

During World War 1, more than 16000 men claimed exemption from military service and went befor a tribunal which assessed their claims. Those who refused non-combatant work in the army or civilian work which they considered to contribute to the war effort faced court martial. Many were imprisoned,became physically or mentally ill, or died as a result.

Since 1982, 15th May has marked International Conscientious Objectors’ Day, commemorating those who have resisted and those who continue to resist war, especially by refusing to be part of military structures.

To mark International Conscientious Objectors’ Day 2016, the First World War Peace Forum will hold a ceremony of remembrance on Sunday 15 May at 12 noon in Tavistock Square, WC1.

The speakers include:

• Jill Gibbon who will speak about her grandfather, Bert Brocklesby, was one of those sent to France in May 1916 and given the (commuted) death penalty

 • Siw Wood who will speak about her uncle, Walter Roberts, the first man to die as a consequence of his treatment in the terrible conditions at Dyce camp

 • Hannah Brock from War Resisters’ International who will give a short overview of the situation today for Conscientious Objectorss worldwide

 • A speaker from the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection

 • Holly Wallis from Conscience who will talk about the Taxes For Peace Bill being presented in Parliament to allow conscientious objection to military taxes (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22606)

Names of other conscientious objectors from around the world will be read out during the ceremony and flowers will be laid at the Conscientious Objectors’ stone in the square. 

Participants will be invited to bring forward flowers or photos, and call out the name as they lay a flower.

* The Conscientious Objectors Stone in Tavistock Square was unveiled on May 15 1994 by Sir Michael Tippett, Peace Pledge Union President and a one time conscientious objector

* Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War http://www.conscienceonline.org.uk/

* War Resisters' International http://www.wri-irg.org/en/

* European Bureau for Conscientious Objection http://www.ebco-beoc.org/

* Peace Pledge Union http://www.ppu.org.uk/

[Ekk/4]

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