Nonviolent Activists Block NATO for 30 minutes to mark International Conscientious Objectors' Day

Three activists arrested - but released after 1 hour

On 15 May 2002 - International Conscientious Objectors' Day - an international group of conscientious objectors and antimilitarists from Spain, Croatia, Macedonia, Turkey, Finland, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Britain, and France, blocked the main gate of the NATO headquarters in Brussels for about 30 minutes. Three activists - two of whom tried to lock on to the gate in order to close it - were arrested during the action, but released about one hour later.

In their "Schellebelle declaration", drafted during a nonviolent training week at Schellebelle, the activists declare: We are at the headquarters of NATO on 15th of May- International Conscientious Objectors´ Day- because NATO is a symbol of international militarism, which keeps the global domination system alive. Although they pretend to be the guardians of Peace, democracy and liberty, by so called "humanitarian" intervention, the military achieves the opposite. What we do here is taking nonviolent direct action to disturb militarism's daily work and the smooth functioning of the military machine." On International Conscientious Objectors´ Day with this action here, we express our solidarity with conscientious objectors in South America, the Balkans, Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere. They need our support because in many of these countries the expression of conscientious objectors is severely repressed. We condemn such repression. Today on 15th of May, we especially highlight the repression and imprisonment of all conscientious objectors. We are taking Peace in our own hands and are asking you to do the same. Peace is too important to be left to the military."

The activists had planned that two of them would lock on to the main gate of NATO, in order to keep it shut. However, this plan failed because of tightened security at NATO. Still, the main aim - to shut down NATO - was achieved for about 30 minutes.

The action was organised by War Resisters' International in cooperation with their Flemish section Forum voor Vredesactie, and was one of many international actions to mark International Conscientious Objectors' Day, and to support conscientious objectors everywhere in the world.

Contact: +32-(0)485-451070 (Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International)

The Schellebelle declaration is available in several languages:

Large-format pictures of the action are available from the website: