For the first time in 14 years, Courage to Resist was not able to gather with friends for an official Peace Flag raising at Berkeley City Hall, due to the continuing pandemic. However, we’re celebrating with friends around the globe with this series of video messages for International Conscientious Objector Day.

By Connection e.V. (Germany) and War Resisters’ International

Today, on May 15, the International Day of Conscientious Objection, Connection e.V. and War Resisters’ International present numerous video clips from all over the world on our YouTube channel Refuse to Kill. “We received contributions from many countries that deal with varied aspects of conscientious objection, from North and South America, from Asia, from Africa, and from Europe”, says  Rudi Friedrich from Connection e.V. “It is a clear commitment against war and participation in war.”

The focus of this year’s International Conscientious Objection Day is “Conscientious Objection and Asylum”. Many refugees have to leave their countries because of forced recruitment. They are denied the right to conscientious objection. However, escaping from war and forced recruitment into the military is often not seen as a reason to gain asylum. “Protecting people who do not want to participate in war”, Igor Seke for War Resisters’ International says, “would be an important and necessary step against war and oppression. This is portrayed by authentic videos made by conscientious objectors who had to flee themselves.”

To date contributions have been received from people from Angola, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Eritrea, Finland, Greece, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and USA:

Bob Meola, Courage to Resist, U.S.: Resistance to the draft to the Vietnam war was an ultimate stand to say No –

Armin Lauven, Pax Christi, Germany: Active for conscientious objectors and deserters worldwide –

Beran İşçi, Turkey/Germany: My asylum case as conscientious objector is regarded as non-political –

Berndt Püschel and Heiko Marx, Germany: International Deserters’ Network goes to the Sky –

Connection e.V., Germany: Conscientious Objectors and Deserters Need Asylum –

Dustin Hausner, U.S., New York: We need to support people who do not want to commit atrocities –

Daniel Rezene, Eritrea/Switzerland: Recognize conscientious objection as a ground for asylum –

Deutsche Welle / +90, Turkey: Being a Conscientious Objector –

EBCO in Peace House, Brussels, contributions from various countries: Spot on Conscientious Objection –

EBCO/Movimento Nonviolento, contributions from various countries: Military Distancing Spot –

Emanuel Matondo, Angola/Germany: I knew that war is a crime and then I refused the military service –

Ercan Aktaş, Turkey/France: I came to France in October 2017 and never returned –

Gunter Schmidt, painter, Germany: I always wished, war was finally dead –

Halil Savda, Turkey/Cyprus: I dream of a nonviolent and free world –

Heinz Bartjes, Germany: Conscientious Objectors were seen as wimps and sissies –

Helen Kidan, Eritrea/United Kingdom: People are fleeing indefinite military service in Eritrea –

Hüseyin Civan, Turkey: I reject conscription and war as an antimilitarist and anarchist –

IDK, Germany: Views on our work –

La Tulpa, Colombia: The antimilitarist collective speaks about militarization and patriarchal society –

Lewis M. Randa, U.S.: Conscientious objection is a code word for love, for sanity, for being human –

Marcela Paz and Rocio Elisabeth, Chile: We want a world without war, without borders and without violence –

Mertcan Güler and his Boss, Turkey/Germany: We both reject to go to army –

Merve Arkun, Turkey: Conscientious is an anti-war action for women and the rejection of male-dominated codes –

Nuri Silay, Cyprus: Wherever in the world we call everyone to refuse to be part of the military-

Pedro Polo, Spain: We are not soldiers, we are queers –

Rudi Friedrich, Germany: Do you know the International Day of Conscientious Objection?

Stephan Brües, Germany: From this on I was engaged in the peace movement –

World Without War, South Korea: Active Resistance to War –

Vadim Damier, Russian Federation: There was no legal means to escape the war –

Yohannes Kidane: Eritrea/USA: I decided to leave the Eritrean army. I’m proud of my decision –

Aufruf zum Internationalen Tag der Kriegsdienstverweigerung –

Call to International Day of Conscientious Objection –

Llamado para el Día Internacional de la Objeción de Conciencia –

Photos from past Courage to Resist celebrations of International CO and War Resisters’ Day, Berkeley, California.

Bob Meola’s Statement (Transcript)

MAY 15th, this year, is the 14th annual Berkeley Conscientious Objectors’ and War Resisters’ Day.     Since 1985, May 15th has been International Conscientious Objectors’ Day around the world.

If not for the Corona Virus, Covid-19, we would be gathering, as usual, to celebrate Berkeley CO and War Resisters’ Day and this peace flag would be flying atop the City flagpole at Berkeley City Hall amongst music and many voices of resistance.

In 2007, the Mayor and the City Council of Berkeley, California proclaimed May 15th, “…as the day on which Berkeley acknowledges, honors, and celebrates conscientious objectors and war resisters, civilian and military, past, present, and future.”

Some of what the City publicly recognized was “that conscientious objectors and war resisters, past and present, civilian and military, have, due to conscience and principle, often sacrificed their time and freedom in prison or in exile or underground; and…conscientious objectors and war resisters often worked to end war and have refused, for moral, ethical, political or religious reasons, to participate in war; and…their resistance to militarism sets a noble example and an outstanding model for our youth and our whole community; and… their strength and their courage in following their consciences is often unsung.”

The City of Berkeley is also a Sanctuary City for draft registration resisters,  draft resisters if the draft is reinstated, and for present day military resisters of conscience even if they are classified as AWOL or as deserters.

Resistance to the Draft during the Vietnam War was the ultimate stand an individual conscience could take to say no to the organized mass murder and illegal and immoral war waged by the state.

Today, we all must be conscientiously opposed to the corporate neoliberal imperialist wars of U.S. Empire fought for greed and profit and also opposed to the illegal sanctions that the bully U.S. Empire has imposed on many nations during this global COVID-19 Crisis.  Those sanctions are killing innocent people who have the right to receive food, medical equipment and other aid from anywhere without interference or interruption from a warmongering U.S. Empire.

There are currently two bills in Congress that could affect the future of a military draft.

HR 6415 would extend military draft registration to women as well as to men.   Urge your representatives to vote NO on it if it comes before them.

HR 5492 would repeal the Selective Service Act and abolish the Selective Service System for everyone.  Urge your Congress people to vote YES on HR 5492 to abolish the Selective Service System.

Have the Courage to Resist.   Wage Peace!

Bob Meola is a member of the War Resisters League, Courage to Resist, and the City of Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission