Report from the International Week of Action Against the Militarisation of Youth
The 2nd International Week of Action Against the Militarisation of Youth was held between 14-20 November with many activists taking actions and organising events across the world. The week followed the first ever week of action took place last year and a day of action held in 2013.
Throughout the week this year, antimilitarists from different countries organised street actions and protests; held meetings, talks and workshops; and run social media campaigns all of which challenging the many ways militaries engage with young people via the use of public spaces.
Direct Actions and Street Protests
Cuerpo Con-Siente, an antimilitarist group from Colombia, organised a non-violent street action in Bogota, where young people from different parts of the city protested against compulsory military service and the role of military in society. In Catalonia, the green youth group Joves d'Esquerra Verda organised a protest in front of the offices of the Department of Education in Barcelona, which recently invited military to a youth festival organised by the government of Catalonia. In Germany a group of peace activists organised a protest at the job fair azubi-und-studientage in Frankfurt/M where recuritment officers were promoting military positions for the young.
In the USA, War Resisters League took a street action –No War No Violence- and distributed counter-recruitment resources in the streets around City College of New York, which -along with CUNY schools citywide- actively takes part in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program. Another group in the States, School of the Americas Watch based in Washington DC, held three days of nonviolent actions, Resist Empire and Militarization, at the gates of the Fort Benning military base in Georgia.
Information and debate
In the UK, United Nations Association Cardiff and District Branch organised a meeting in Cardiff -Ban Schoolyard Recruitment- with speakers from Veterans for Peace UK and Fellowship of Reconciliation in Cardiff/Wales. In London, activists from Women in Black led a vigil on youth militarisation and handed out leaflets to members of the public. Students from the University of York (UK) did information stalls in their campuses.
In Finland, activists from Aseistakieltäytyjäliitto AKL circulated counter-recruitment materials in front of the military recruitment offices in Helsinki/Finland throughout the week of action. In Germany, activists from the German Peace Society - United War Resisters' (DFG-VK) organised talks with conscientious objectors from Israel in Cologne and Bremen; and held a rally against the militarisation of youth with information stalls and live music in Mainz.
Beyond the Fence- a Radio Show in the Pacific island of Guam, dedicated its episode on 20th November to the week of action against the militarisation of youth, discussing the issues around countering youth militarisation in Guam. Listen the podcast here (Episode 228).
A phd student from the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago (New Zealand) published an article from her research in the Pacific Islands of Marianas: Youth Resistance in the Mariana Islands: Protecting sacred sites from the United States Military. ForcesWatch (based in London) publicised their report on peace education in the UK.
Calls to Action and Social Media Campaigns
We have also seen calls to action and campaigns happening throughout the week. The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY) convened a national call to action, Save Our Civilian Public Education, to demilitarize schools in the USA, which currently continues and demanding your support. The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand made a call to other higher education institutions, schools and youth centres creating their own "Zones of Peace". See more about their call here.
Finally, we have also seen active social media engagement by the activists throughout the week. The Catalan group Desmilitaritzem l’Educació and activists from the Latin American and Caribbean Anti-Militarist Network (RAMALC) took part in the week via their social media campaigns storming Twitter and Facebook with their posts on youth militarisation from their countries.
See here for more photos from the actions/events took place throughout the week.
The week of action was part of WRI's work Countering the Militarisation of Youth. If you want to find out more about this work, please visit WRI's site http://www.antimili-youth.net/, follow us on Facebook, and write to email@example.com if you would like to be involved in direct action for youth militarisation in future.