Greece

The conscientious objector K.K., whose 2003 application for CO status and to perform an extremely punitive alternative civilian service of 30 months (instead of 12 months of military service) had been rejected by the Minister of National Defence, as well as his appeal by the highest administrative court, and who was facing trial by military court at the age of 45 for insubordination, was finally acquitted.

A 45-year-old conscientious objector who, 17 years ago, had applied and was denied to perform an alternative civilian service of 30 months (instead of 12 months of military service), is summoned to trial by a military court on October 26th, 2020.

K.K. had applied for CO status for ideological reasons and to perform the then extremely punitive alternative civilian service, back in 2003. His application was rejected in 2004 by the Greek Minister of National Defence, after recommendation of a 5-membered special committee which by that time included 2 military officers.

The Omega Research Foundation has identified a range of different “less lethal” weapons being used by Greek authorities – including potentially lethal tear gas - being used against migrants by Greek security forces at the Turkish/Greek border.

This year has been perhaps the most crucial year for conscientious objectors in Greece since the establishment of alternative civilian service in 1997-1998. After years of efforts, there was an opportunity for significant changes. Certain improvements in the legislative framework were achieved but the most important one, the reduction of the length of alternative civilian service was quickly annulled after the summer general elections by the new right-wing Greek government.

The Greek Government has announced a draft bill proposing minor changes that affects conscientious objectors. Despite the proposed minor improvements, the draft bill fails to offer much-awaited changes for conscientious objectors that ensure a non-punitive and non-discriminatory legislation and practice. Conscientious objectors in Greece reported to WRI that if the draft bill passes in parliament in its current version, it would be a missed opportunity, and it's a crucial time to pressure the Greek government to ensure a legislation that meets international standards for conscientious objectors.

On 26-28 May, activists from Greece, Israel, Russia, Turkey, and Cyprus (both south and north) gathered in Nicosia (Cyprus) for a 3-day training, Gender and Countering Youth Militarisation, organised by War Resisters' International. During the training, participants explored gendered dimensions of youth militarisation within their societies as well as discussing how to work internationally to counter these processes.

Bearing in mind the scandalous fact that despite numerous appeals, Greek authorities have, for several decades, violated the human right of conscientious objection to military service, the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection and War Resisters’ International support the renewed call for a boycott of the Conscience Examination Committee (the special advisory committee which examines applications for conscientious objector status), which has been issued by the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors.

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