Publishers Forword

War Resisters’ International is grateful to Devi Prasad for the years of work that have gone into the creation of “War is a crime against humanity: The story of War Resisters’ International.” Of course this book is not only the result of his research and writing but also of Devi’s nearly 50 years of association with WRI and the pacifist movement.
As Devi states in his Introduction, this book does not include everything that would be necessary for a “complete chronology or thorough analysis” of WRI. That would be an extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, task. Devi’s relationship to WRI gives this book a special perspective that would not be possible if written by someone not as committed to the organization and movement. Devi also gives us a glimpse at the history of nonviolence and pacifism prior to the founding of WRI in 1921, and the history of conscription, helping us to understand the struggles and inspirations that gave rise to the War Resisters’ International.
Right from the start, members of the WRI said that refusing military service is not enough. Social change is needed as well.
As our Statement of Principles says, WRI “exists to promote nonviolent action against the causes of war and to support and connect people around the world who refuse to take part in war or the preparation of war. On this basis, it works for a world without war.”
Different people will find different stories in this book of special interest and inspiration. There are stories of individual acts of sacrifice on the part of war resisters, and stories of collective actions against war and the causes of war. WRI’s 23rd Triennial Conference held in Dublin in 2002 was entitled “Stories and Strategies: Nonviolent Resistance and Social Change” in recognition that telling the stories of what has happened helps us develop new strategies for the future. Devi Prasad has told the stories, I encourage you all to read them with an eye towards developing a deeper understanding of the strategies needed for nonviolent resistance and social change.
This history covers the first 53 years of our now 84 year old organization. As Devi says in his Introduction, this is an ever-developing story. I first became involved in WRI in 1975, around the time this narrative ends. These past thirty years of WRI activities has included the incorporation of a feminist perspective and gender lens into our work, the movement against nuclear power which WRI helped to spread internationally, and the continual expanding of our global network.
WRI now consists of 90 groups in 43 countries and a network that goes beyond that.
WRI is both a network and an organization with two main programmes.
The Right to Refuse to Kill combines a wide range of activities to support conscientious objectors individually, as well as organised groups and movements for conscientious objection.
Pioneer conscientious objectors continue to come forward in their own countries. In support of their acts of conscience, we work to create an antimilitarism movement. While progress has been made, a week ago Turkish CO Mehmet Tarhan was given a historical punishment of 4 years imprisonment for his refusal to serve in the Turkish military. We clearly have a long way to go.
The WRI Nonviolence Programme’s goals are to deepen our understanding of nonviolence, nonviolent strategies, and nonviolent campaigning, and to develop and provide tools and support to groups using nonviolence. We have much to build on, as this book shows, and much to do as we promote the use of nonviolence.
The hope of War Resisters’ International is that more and more people will come to the understanding that war is a crime against humanity. Devi Prasad’s book of that name is a contribution towards that goal.

Joanne Sheehan, Chair, WRI