23-5-2019 In Colombia voerde de vredesbeweging rond de 'Internationale dag van de dienstweigering' (15 mei) actie om de positie van weigeraars van militaire dienst te verbeteren. In Colombia is er weliswaar sedert kort een wet die dienstweigering op grond van gewetensbezwaren mogelijk maakt, maar het leger trekt zich daar weinig van aan. Gedwongen rekrutering is nog steeds schering en inslag.
De tekst van de verklaring van de Colombiaanse vredesbeweging:
The mobilization of conscientious objection and antimilitarist organizations for more than 20 years has achieved important changes that can be seen in constitutional jurisprudence, and in some debates and laws issued by the Colombian parliament. Although the ideal conditions for the respect and guarantee of the right to Conscientious Objection don't exist yet, this right has become a reality that young men in the country can pursue.
In addition, after over 4 years of negotiations and peace talks between the former government and the FARC guerrillas, an agreement was finally reached that allowed the return of a large part of that insurgent group. Despite the many gaps in the process, these agreements generated many expectations and hopes of overcoming the armed conflict that has been going on for almost 60 years in Colombia. In spite of this, the elected government, which currently holds power, was against the peace agreements during the peace talks. At present, it is in charge of implementing those agreements and it is making every effort not to do so and to force the country into an armed conflict once again.
In this context, it is clear that the current government's goal is to prioritize and increase military spending and deepen an economic policy based on the extraction of resources, which will affect the population and the environment irreparably, but it will have a large army to defend those interests. Furthermore, the government has made commitments to the US and NATO which involve strengthening its military forces and joining the warlike adventures required by the international agenda.
Undoubtedly, the effects of this for the Colombian population is deepening poverty, the exclusion and violation of their rights, the obligation to remain in the middle of the armed conflict, and the youth being obliged to take up arms to serve the official army or the different armies defending the interests of the powers governing the country.
Thus, what at one point was seen as hope for Colombia is currently proving to be an involution in terms of rights and guarantees for citizens to exercise those rights, including the right to Conscientious Objection.
Antimilitarism is not only a way of defending peace as a way to overcome confrontation and its structural causes, but it is also the way to ensure that the progress made in terms of the recognition and guarantee of the right to objection remain and be can expanded and increased in Colombia.
What do Conscientious Objectors in Colombia demand?
- No more "raids" with invitation! - Young men are summoned by the Armed Forces to resolve their military situation, however, ignoring the law and due process, young men end up being recruited on the first citation.
- That the requests of young objectors be evaluated by an impartial and independent instance! Requests made by young men to be recognized as conscientious objectors are assessed by an "Interdisciplinary Commission". This commission is mainly composed of public officials dependant on the military institutions and with professional backgrounds in the fields of psychology, medicine and active military officials as well as an official from the public ministry. However, this commission doesn't meet the standards suggested by the UN Human Rights Commission in terms of an impartial and independent body. In remote areas of the country, the presence of the public ministry official may be conditioned by the ability to provide the service in that area, which implies that the commissions end up being composed only of members from the Armed Forces.
- "They want me to give up my right and offer me other exemption options". In many cases, when a young man declares himself an objector, public officials try to persuade the young man not to opt for conscientious objection, showing him other exemption options. During the first year of this law being in force, many young men with little or partial information, appearing to resolve their military situation under this right, did not exercise it, decreasing the official figures of conscientious objectors.
- Objectors to declare themselves as such without being subject to pressure! When a statement is denied in the first instance, many young men don't continue through other routes, either because they have not been properly informed or because of psychological pressure exerted by the officers since many young men make their statements inside the walls of barracks.
- That the Armed Forces fulfill their obligation to inform young men of the right to Conscientious Objection established in the law! No information is provided nor are campaigns held as instructed by the law to allow young men to know about their right to Conscientious Objection.
- "The Military Forces use lies to discourage objectors". They say that there will be a war with Nicaragua or Venezuela and in those cases Conscientious Objection is not effective.
- "Military officials deny objectors tax objection". COs are persuaded to pay for the military card, which contradicts the ethical ideals of the objectors, forcing them to contribute economically to the maintenance of the military apparatus and its conflict dynamics.