War Resisters' International, London, 07 October 2008
FINLAND: Two total objectors going to prison
Sebastian Salminen, a 21-years old total objector from Oulu, went
to prison yesterday, on 6 October 2008.
He had been ordered to perform his military service in the Infantry
Brigade of Sodankylä. He refused and was sentenced to prison for 195
days by the Oulu
district court (Oulun käräjäoikeus) on 27 November 2007. The charge
was "refusing conscription". He noted in his trial that his refusal
is a "personal contention based on his pacifist conviction".
The Helsinki appeal court (Helsingin hovioikeus) shortened the
sentence to 178 days on 30 July 2008. The shorter sentence is based
on the new Alternative Service Act, which came into force in the
beginning of this year and shortened both the duration of substitute
service (from 395 days to 362 days) and maximum punishment of total
objectors (from 197 days to 181 days).
Juhana Hirvonen, a 27-years old set designer from Helsinki, will be
imprisoned on 9th of October. He refused conscription on July 2007
and was sentenced to prison for 179 days (after appeal). In his
trial he stated that his responsibilities as a human are not towards
the state but towards other people. He also stated that armed force
does not help society and a functioning society does not necessarily
need a machine of violence such as the military.
Although substitute service has been shortened, its length is still
over two times the basic length of military service (180 days) and
can be seen as
punitive. The imprisonment of total objectors also continues under
the new law. On 1st of October 2008 there were 15 total objectors in
Sebastian Salminen is expected to be released from prison on 4th of
April 2009, Juhana Hirvonen on 8th of April.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to
Sebastian Salminen and Juhana Hirvonen:
War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to
Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, or Finnish embassies abroad.
A protest email can be sent at
http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20081007a.html. A list of Finnish
embassies can be found at
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of
Sebastian Salminen and Juhana Hirvonen, and all other imprisoned
War Resisters' International