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War Resisters' International in court for war tax resistance

PRESS RELEASE

Monday, 9 February 04, 2pm, City of London Magistrates Court, 1 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4N 4XY

War Resisters' International, the international pacifist network with affilliated organisations in 40 countries, is taken to court by the Inland Revenue for refusing to pay war tax. The case now refers to the tax year 2002/03. War Resisters' International started to refuse to pay war tax as part of the income tax of its employees after 11 September 2001, and the subsequent "war on terrorism". The War Resisters' International Council Meeting, meeting in Turkey in September 2001, issued a call for conscientious objection to war and preparation for war, including refusal to pay war tax [1].

War Resisters' International is based on the WRI declaration, which dates back to 1921: "War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war."[2] Based on this declaration, the WRI Executive as employers decided in December 2001 to withhold the proportion of the tax used to fund war on behalf of its staff.

"Our conscientious objection to pay for war is a logical consequence of our work against war", explains Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International's conscientious objection campaigning worker. "War Resisters' International always supported conscientious objection. This goes back to 1921, when WRI was founded. Now, with professional armies, the 'conscription' of our taxes is an important aspect of how our societies are geared towards war. Why should we, who struggle so much against war - not only against the war on Iraq, but against war in principle - contribute with our taxes to the more than 3 billion pounds that the UK government spent on killing thousands of Iraqis? Here, our conscience forbids us to follow the law."

War Resisters' International is of the opinion that conscientious objection to military taxation has to be seen as an expression of Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights - Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. "When WRI was founded back in 1921, the immediate issue was the right to conscientious objection. Although we are still from having achieved this right globally even today - more than 80 years later - it is obvious that now military taxation becomes more and more of an issue. WRI will also fight for the right of conscientious objection to military taxation, and our own civil disobedience is part of this struggle", explains Andreas Speck.

The case will be heard on 9 February 04, 2pm, in the City of London Magistrates Court (1 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4N 4XY).

For more information:

Andreas Speck,
Tel +44-20-7278 4040 (War Resisters' International)
Tel +44-7739-498335 (mobile)

Notes for journalists:

[1]  SAY NO! A Call For Conscientious Objection to War and War Preparations, http://wri-irg.org/statemnt/sayno.htm
[2] War Resisters' International was founded in March 1921 in Bilthoven in the Netherlands. More information on War Resisters' International is available at http://wri-irg.org/wri.htm