Dr. Birgit Völlm
Here you'll find Birgit's statement and what have her conscience led her to do.
Psychiatrist and university Lecturer in Forensic Psychiatry at the Neuroscience and Psychiatry Unit, Manchester
"I deeply believe that each person has an intrinsic value and worth, regardless of their nationality, gender, faith or conduct. I also share the commitment to the testimonies of equality, social justice, peace, simplicity and truth with the Quaker faith.
On a personal level the belief in an intrinsic value of all people and in equality dictates me to aim to treat all people with respect and kindness and not to use others for my own personal gains. On the level of a society these concerns lead to human rights for all citizens. These rights are unconditional and include the right to life, liberty and security."
"Any violence against people, including war and suppression is not compatible with either my beliefs or the human rights of these people regardless of the purpose of the violence. Fundamental values and rights cannot be traded off against seeming or real advantages for certain individuals or states."
"Where all this holds true at all times, it is particularly relevant in a time where Britain is actively engaged in war as was the case at the time of my first letter to the IR requesting the redirection of a proportion of my taxes. This war was illegal. It violated the UN Charter which allows the use of military force only in cases of self defence or as an action authorised by the Security Council. Pre-emptive strikes have no basis in International Law. This war cost the British taxpayer several billon pounds and thousands of innocent Iraqis their lives."
"The right to object to the conscription to military service has been recognised in most civilised countries including in the UK in 1916. However, in an age of sophisticated military technology, it is not so much people but financial resources that are conscripted for war and its preparations. Therefore compulsory financial service of all citizens is a prerequisite for war. The right to withhold taxes for military purposes is a logical extension of the right to refuse to take part in military activity itself.
Conscientious objectors’ taxes should be put into a non-military security fund and used to help prevent and resolve conflicts. This view is shared by 65 MPs who support the call for a bill to introduce the right of conscientious objection to taxation for military purposes. The Human Rights Act which came into force in Britain in autumn 2000 in Article 9 recognises the freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Freedom of conscience is the basis for the right to refuse military service and I believe that denying me the right to redirect my taxes towards peaceful rather than military purposes breaches these rights."
"I am a doctor. I chose this profession to help people and to alleviate suffering. Contributing to war directly or indirectly by paying taxes which are used for weapons that kill people is not compatible with my professional values. We could have built many new hospitals and employed much needed additional staff for the cost of the attack on Iraq. Every doctor should think twice before giving their money to this government."
What have her conscience led her to do?
2003 January - Joined Conscience
March - Made out cheque for £129.40 (requested as balancing payment under Inland Revenue Schedule E) to Department for International Development.
December - Court hearing (Manchester City Magistrates Court); Birgit Appealed against payment order.
2004 January - Informed by Manchester City Magistrates Court that judicial review was the only legal recourse
February - Accordingly, joined Peace Tax Seven applying for judicial review