Since June, 2015 the Peace and Justice Centre has been collecting signatures for a petition created by Amnesty International and championed by War Resisters International calling on the government of South Korea to stop imprisoning Conscientious Objectors (COs). We collected 368 signatures in the Centre and at our booth during the festival.
South Korea imprisons more conscientious objectors than the rest of the world combined. Since 2000, roughly 10,000 Korean men have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in the military for reasons of conscience. South Korea offers no provisions for COs to complete an alternative form of service if they refuse to fight. COs’ prison sentences stay with them for the rest of their lives via their criminal records and their marginalization from society. Because military service is considered a ‘holy’ duty in South Korea, COs are viewed as ‘unpatriotic.’
Hannah Brock of War Resisters International said, “The petitions, collected on line and on paper at events around the world, are being handed in on 1st December – Prisoners for Peace day – by South Korean CO activists and supporters from Germany. Amnesty International in Korea have requested a meeting with the Ministry of National Defense in order to do so. Also on Prisoners for Peace day, CO supporters will be writing to a number of COs in prison in Korea and around the world for their stance against militarism. The international petition is one of many different approaches being taken to end the imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Korea.”
Read more about the petition here.