3rd International Week of Action held with events organised across the world

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The 3rd International Week of Action Against the Militarisation of Youth was held between 14-20 November with the participation of various groups taking actions and organising events across different countries. This year it has been the third time War Resisters' International called activists from all around the world for actions and events raising awareness of, and challenging, the ways violence and military values are normalised for young people.

Throughout the week we had street actions, workshops, vigils and other public events all which were touching upon those many ways young people's minds and bodies are recruited by militaries and other war profiteers.  

Direct Actions and Street Protests

Aseistakieltäytyjäliitto AKL from Finland organised street actions in front of the military recruitment centres in Tampere and Helsinki, together with Women for Peace and PAND - Artists for Peace groups. AKL has also circualted anti-recruitment resources in front of the recruitment centres in both cities throughout the week.

In Israel, two activists, Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze'evi, declared conscientious objection in front of Israeli military's (IDF) Tel Hashomer induction base outside Tel Aviv. Tamar and Tamar, imprisoned the same day, were accompanied by around 80 supporters from Mesarvot -a network of activists supporting political conscientious objectors in Israel- carrying supportive signs and calling out slogans demanding the pair's release and the end of occupation. Following this action, Mesarvot, together with War Resisters' International, has also organised a Global Day of Action on 1st December Prisoners for Peace Day supporting Alon and Ze'evi. Both refusers keep serving in prison with repeated imprisonments. Keep updates and further solidarity events on www.wri-irg.org. 

On 17 November, Granny Peace Brigade from New York (USA) organised an action across 12 high schools throughout New York City's 5 boroughs. As part of the action, activists provided parents with information concerning non-military options for students after high school as well as points to consider when military recruiters call or meet with youth.

German Peace Society (DFG-VK) activists organised street actions in different cities in Germany, including Würzburg, Bargteheide (Holstein), Erlangen, and Frankfurt/M throughout the week. As part of their actions activists have circulated counter-recruitment leaflets in front of job fairs where the German military, Bundeswher, was holding recruitment/information stalls. Aside from those actions, DFG-VK activists have also publicised a case about military propaganda for kids. They were on trial in Stuttgart for publishing photos showing children (faces pixelated) handling weapons at the military propaganda event "Day of the Federal Forces" (Tag der Bundeswehr). They were ready at the court to answer questions and to underline the problematic nature of military propaganda for kids, as well as the importance of documenting and stopping these sort of propaganda events for kids. In New Zealand, Auckland Peace Action activists organised the Week of Peace with a number of nonviolent street actions including a blockade of the weapons expo in Auckland and a 'peace flotilla' surrounding the navy ships in city harbour.

In London, Women in Black (London) led a vigil on youth militarisation and handed out leaflets to members of the public in central London. In the leaflets they were calling out the citizens to write to their MPs and other responsible official bodies in ensuring support for non-military youth facilities, as well as raising the recruitment age in the UK, which is now 16.

 

Information and debate

Centre Delas from Catalonia organised a panel session with presentations from two recent publications on youth militarisation:122 acciones fáciles (y difíciles) para la paz and Mentes Militarizadas. Besides, throughout the week, Centre Delas together with the campaign network Desmilitaritzem l’Educació, has sent letters to the officials responsible for organising educational events in Catalonia in order to ensure that they will no invite the military to any of the educational events. They have also organised a meeting with political parties within the Catalonian Parliament, which has issued a resolution urging the government to limit military presence at public spaces, including schools, and to avoid promoting the military industry in Catalonia.

National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY), together with War Resisters' Leage, from the USA has launched the campaign Winning the Peace, which will be an ongoing and multiyear intervention against U.S. military's intrusion into the public school system for the purposes of supporting its wars. NNOMY keeps calling for volunteers for its project. For more information contact NNOMY via winningthepeace@nnomy.org.

On 16 November, NESEHNUTÍ from the Czech Republic organised a public workshop in Brno on arms trade and its links to the militarisation of society in Europe. Throughout the week, NESEHNUTÍ has also promoted a new documentary on the militarisation in Czech society, in which they took part in. You can find more information about the film here.

On 17 November, ACOOC – Colombian Collective Action of Conscientious Objectors organised a workshop on nonviolent social protest and alternatives to militarisation at the Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogota. As part the workshop ACOOC activists has introduced a role-playing game, Compa, which simulates situations of social protest and resistance to police violence. Another event in Bogota was organised by CUERPO CON-SIENTE with a 2-day workshop on alternative approaches to social transformation with the participation of youth.

Starting from 18th November, Foundation for Active Nonviolence (Stichting voor Actieve Geweldloosheid- SVAG) from the Netherlands organised a non-violence training, Towards a Nonviolent World, in London for youth workers from various countries in Europe. WRI activists also presented a session on nonviolence and countering the militarisation of youth in the training.

In Turkey activists from Conscientious Objection Association have participated in a panel session where they have dedicated their presentation to the Week of Action. On 12th November, War Resisters’ International office held an information stall at Veterans for Peace conference in London, circulating leaflets on countering youth militarisation in the UK.

Publications

Aside from these actions and events, we have also published articles as part of the week of action. Dr. Victoria Basham, senior lecturer in International Relations at the University of Cardiff, wrote on the militarisation of youth in the UK with a specific focus on the UK Government's mainstreaming the idea of “military ethos” at schools. You can find Dr. Basham's piece here.

David Scheuing, WRI activist and a graduate student of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Marburg, wrote for antimili-youth.net on gender mainstreaming in the advertising strategies of the German Military (Bundeswehr) with examples. You can read Scheuing's piece here.

The week of action is organised part of WRI's Countering the Militarisation of Youth work. If you want to find out more about this programme, see here, follow us on Facebook , and write to cmoy@wri-irg.org if you would like to be involved in direct action for youth demilitarisation in future.

 

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