conference diary 2

by Campaign ~ February 6th, 2013. Filed under: News.

At the end of the second day here in Bogota, I am beginning to gain a better understanding of what is happening here in Colombia. As I said in my piece from yesterday we are all at different stages of the same struggle; this was confirmed by one of the members of Acción colectiva de objetores y objetoras de conciencia (ACOOC).

Today we learnt about the problems of conscientious objection in Colombia and its lack of recognition in Colombia. Despite the right to conscientiously objection to military service being recognised by the constitutional court in 2009 only one person since then has actually been recognised as a CO – despite numerous people trying to claim the right to conscientiously objection to military service. ACOOC have worked hard to stop COs from going into the army, but though they have managed to get COs out from carrying out military service, they are still not recognised as COs. This brings huge difficulties for the COs. In order to enter certain professions and in some cases to finish your degree or professional qualification in Colombia you need a military service card. Many of the COs helped by ACOOC do not have this card and are experiencing extreme difficulty in trying to get this important card.

ACOOC has organised meetings with two political parties in Colombia and various government bodies to try and push forward legislation clarifying the position and strengthening the right of COs in Colombia. There is a bill which has already passed through the Colombian Senate which now has to get through the Colombian Congress of Representatives. The Congress is seen to be more in line with the military than the Senate. Any support you can give to ACOOC I’m sure will be gratefully welcome.

The struggle for the right of COs seems a world away from the campaigning we do for the right of COs not to pay for war, but it isn’t. This afternoon listened to a talk from the North American David Gross on the history of war tax resistance. War tax resistance and the right not to pay for war isn’t just similar to the right to object to military service they are the same fight. The only difference is that we do not see first-hand the violence and other crimes we commit through our taxes. We don’t meet the families our money divides and devastates or the people we wound or the people we kill.

War tax resistance and the right not to pay to kill have a long history which began before conscription. It is an ongoing struggle and still a current one. We should all remember this.


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