Colombia

Julián's Story

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Julián Andrés Ovalle was born in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1981. For ten years, he was part of Acción Colectiva de Objetores y Objetoras de Conciencia (ACOOC, Conscientious Objectors' Collective Action), an organisation which aims to create the concrete conditions for people to be able to opt for alternatives to militarism, specifically alternatives to obligatory military service in Colombia. Currently, he is working towards the consolidation of a Latin American and Caribbean Antimilitarist Network. Here, he writes about being a conscientious objector on the grounds of his pacifism in Colombia.

The persistence of wars is shocking evidence that people are the ones who sustain them. It’s not just the major powers, those with industrial interests or armies; we individuals from all over the world provide financing and legitimacy which keeps weapons firing indiscriminately. It is not just neoliberal interest in controlling land for the exploitation of its natural resources, it is also our everyday consumption which enables large companies to continue extracting, producing, and selling for profit.

Different Motivations in the Latin American Movement: Rafa's anarchist perspective

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Rafael Uzcategui is a Venezuelan conscientious objector, author, and human rights activist who has been active with War Resisters' International, and in antimilitarism more generally, for many years. Here, he summarises the main tendencies of the Latin American conscientious objection movement, and details how his own nonviolent anarchist position fits into this picture.

During the eighties, many Latin American countries were living under military dictatorships or suffering the consequences of civil war. These were also the days of the Cold War, during which the US considered Latin America one of its 'zones of influence': almost like a back garden. The traumatic and progressive democratisation process meant that broad swathes of the continent's youth developed an antimilitarist sentiment, which began to take on an organised and political dimension. As an adolescent at the beginning of the nineties in Barquisimeto, a town 5 hours away from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, my peers and I had to hide ourselves twice a year for fifteen days, to avoid compulsory military service. Otherwise they would seize us on the streets and, without wasting words, force us into a truck, with others just as terrified, and from there take us to the barracks. For many of us, these forced recruitment raids or 'press gangs' were the starting point for our rejection of authority and of the military uniform.

Four new affiliates for WRI

National Land Rights Forum, NepalNational Land Rights Forum, Nepal

At the WRI Council meeting in Seoul, Korea, the WRI Council was delighted to admit four new associated organisation as members of War Resisters' International:

The Antimilitarist Kollective of Medellín, Colombia: an affinity group that promotes antimilitarism and conscientious objection to war as a way of life and as a way to fight for political and social advocacy. We fight for the transformation towards a more just, inclusive, equitable and humane society which promotes autonomy, self-determination and the freedom of people.

The Centre for Peace Studies, Zagreb, Croatia, is a non-profit citizens’ association whose mission is promoting non-violence, human rights and social change through education, research, public policies and activism. CPS grew out of various direct forms of peace-building activities in the region of western Slavonia during the 1990s war in Croatia (community projects such as The Volunteer Project Pakrac and The Croatian Anti-War Campaign - ARK). It was established in 1997, formally in 1999.

The Community Self Reliance Center, Nepal whose vision is to see a Nepali society where everyone enjoys a secure, free and dignified life. Their mission is to empower land-poor women and men enabling them to claim and exercise their basic rights, including right to land resources, contributing to eradicating poverty and injustice.

The National Land Rights Forum (NLRF), Nepal whose vision is to see a self-reliant farmer community in Nepal, and whose mission is to empower the land-poor people by organizing and conscientizing them to enable to launch struggle against discriminations and claim their farmers’ rights.

We welcome all of them and look forward to working together.

COLOMBIA: National Assembly of Conscientious Objectors (ANOOC) Statement

The National Assembly of Conscientious Objectors in Colombia have released a statement criticising the ongoing use of 'batida' raids, despite the practise being declared illegal by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Arrest (Opinion 8/08) and the Constitutional Court in Sentences. The statement insists that the practise is stopped, along with any other form of forced recruitment into the Colombian military, and calls for solutions to conflict “different to the fratricidal war that has written Colombian history”.

Read the full statement here: http://www.wri-irg.org/node/24866

National Assembly of Conscientious Objectors (ANOOC) Statement

August 2015

In a country that has gone through many stages of armed conflict throughout its history, where the military has been permeating the fine threads of social relations, various women and men have decided to move forward in the belief that war is not an engine of history and development, neither a condemnation, nor a destiny which we cannot escape; it is the expression of a way of solving social conflicts, used to deflect the factors that create it, maintaining their conditions and creating better conditions in order to perpetuate itself as a naturalized social dynamic.

WRI Appeal: International solidarity and the Struggle against Militarism in Colombia

Diego with his degree certificateDiego with his degree certificateThe WRI bi-annual appeal was sent out this month.  It was written by Colombian CO activist Diego Carreño Neira and talked about the significant progress which WRI and Acción Colectiva de Objetores y Objetoras de Conciencia (ACOOC: Colombian Collective Action of Conscientious Objectors) have made together, most recently in making it possi

Positive constitutional court decision in Colombia for COs

Campaigners in Colombia have been boosted by a new ruling from the Constitutional Court. In a case brought by two conscientious objectors (COs) who had been forcibly recruited into the military, in January the Court ordered the National Recruitment Office to: resolve applications for CO within 15 days; to publish a booklet that notifies youth of their grounds for exemption, deferral, and their right to CO; and to end the practices of arbitrary detention, including batidas (recruitment raids, usually in public spaces).

Conscientious objection: news from Colombia, and Finnish petition

Campaigners in Colombia have been boosted by a new ruling from the Constitutional Court. Yesterday, in a case brought by two conscientious objectors (COs) who had been forcibly recruited into the military, the Court ordered the National Recruitment Office to: resolve applications for CO within 15 days; to publish a booklet that notifies youth of their grounds for exemption, deferral, and their right to CO; and to end the practices of arbitrary detention, including batidas (recruitment raids, usually in public spaces). This right to claim conscientious objection includes once they have already entered the barracks. They have also asked the Army to report, within six months, on the implementation of these orders. If fully adopted, the changes would mark a huge change for young people in Colombia, and especially COs.

In Finland, WRI's affiliate AKL (Union of Conscientious Objectors) are petitioning the government to end conscription and the imprisonment of COs. Please add your name to it here.

Read more...

International Conscientious Objection Day 2015

Start date: 
15 May 2015

Every year, 15th May is International Conscientious Objection day.

Around the world campaigners will be remembering the generations who refused to go to war, and raising awareness of the many who continue to be persecuted and imprisoned for refusing to kill and be part of military structures.

Please join an event (they will be listed here nearer the time), hold your own, and spread the word about the day!

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