In view of May 15th, international day for conscientious objectors, the Greek Section of Amnesty International and the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors organised an event entitled «CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION: HUMAN RIGHT OR MOVING TARGET? From Greece and Balkans to Europe and the entire world» with Greek and foreigner speakers and documentary showing for the conscientious objectors in several countries.
Central demand for Greece is the human rights of the conscientious objectors to be respected at last and the provisions of the alternative civilian social service to comply with the recognized standards in Europe and internationally (European Parliament, Council of Europe, OSCE, UN) and with the recommendations of the Greek institutions (Ombudsman, National Commission for Human Rights).
Date: Monday 14 May 2007, time 18:00-21:00
18:00-20:00 salutation, speeches and discussion
20:00-21:00 documentary «Refusing to Kill» of Payday
Place: Athens Bar Association, 60 Akadimias Street, Athens
Speakers: Simos Mpouras, President of the Greek Section of Amnesty International
Kostas Triantafyllos, President of the Central Union of the Municipal and Prefectorial Youth Councils of Greece
Giorgos Stasinos, President of the National Youth Council (he couldn’t come finally and sent letter instead)
Mihalis Maragakis, first Greek ideological conscientious objector, representative of the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors
Petar Milicevic from Serbia, President of the Balkan Section of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO Balkans)
Michael Kalmanovitz from England, representative of Payday which has groups in United Kingdom, USA and Philippines
Coordinator: Alexia Tsouni, Activist for conscientious objectors
· Simos Mpouras spoke about the human right of conscientious objection, the recommendations of the international institutions which recognise it and the position and work of Amnesty International. He described in brief the history of the conscientious objection in Greece and referred to the current problems, focusing on the alarming percentage of rejections between the applications for alternative service of the ideological COs lately.
· Kostas Triantafyllos presented the proposals of the Municipal and Prefectorial Youth Councils for the alternative service as they were voted in their general assembly 2006, adopting the recommendations of Amnesty International.
· Giorgos Stasinos sent a letter saluting the event and expressing the interest of the National Youth Council to deal with the issue. The Greek Association of COs participates in actions of the National Youth Council in the context of the Council of Europe campaign «All Different All Equal».
· Mihalis Maragakis referred to his experiences as the first ideological Greek CO, his imprisonment and his struggles and he spoke about the demands of the Greek Association of COs for the improvement of the alternative service, the decriminalization of the conscientious objection and the abolishment of the conscription. He also read a letter of protest written by the ideological COs whose applications for alternative service were rejected the last years.
· Petar Milicevic from Serbia said a few words for EBCO and EBCO Balkans and explained the situation in the countries of Southeast Europe regarding conscription and alternative service. He focused on Serbia and former Yugoslavian countries that abolish one after another the compulsory military service, for Bulgaria and Romania that have already abolished it but also for Albania and Turkey where the COs are prosecuted.
· Alexia Tsouni presented a table on the situation in the EU countries regarding whether there is conscription and if yes since when the right to CO is recognized and how long the military and the alternative services are. She also referred to the focus of WRI on Colombian COs this May 15th, explaining in brief the situation there and what WRI is doing.
· Michael Kalmanovitz from England said a few words for Payday, a network of men working with the Global Women’s Strike, and spoke about the struggles of the COs worldwide and the support their receive in general and in particular from women. He emphasized on UK and USA where some soldiers refuse to fight in Iraq and on Israel where some men and women refuse to serve either in total in the Israeli army or in the occupied territories. Finally he introduced the documentary of his organization «Refusing to Kill».
Two interviews were arranged with Petar Milicevic and Michael Kalmanovitz in the newspapers Eleftherotypia (http://www.enet.gr/online/online_text/c=112,id=87495612, http://www.enet.gr/online/online_text/c=112,id=95320380) and Epohi (coming this Sunday).