Beekeepers and market gardeners, university lecturers, teachers and men who left school aged twelve, doctors, printers and politicians, were conscientious objectors in World War I. Their courage – and the global plight of COs today – has inspired an art exhibition in London, set in a chamber resembling a WWI field tent made of bandages.
One hundred years after the British Government was the first in the world to legalise the right of conscientious objection to military service, a Bill to extend this right into the tax system is being introduced to Parliament by Ruth Cadbury MP, herself a descendent of WW1 conscientious objectors affected by the 1916 clause.
A group of staff from Britain Yearly Meeting, the charity which manages the central policy, property, staff and work of Quakers in Britain, have had a request rejected by the Treasury. They wanted to exercise their right of conscientious objection to war by ensuring that none of their taxes are used for military purposes.
When Norman Gaudie refused to participate in World War I he acted from the deepest conviction that all life is sacred.He knew it was wrong to take a life and so he refused to fight. Faced with conscription, he was prepared to die for his belief.
March 2nd 2016 marked 100 years since the first inclusive right of conscientious objection became law in the United Kingdom. To commemorate the centenary, the NGO Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War hosted a discussion evening featuring MPs from three different parties and Sir Richard Jolly, a former United Nations Assistant Secretary General.