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Peace supporters gather for International Conscientious Objectors’ Day

PEACE supporters gathered today to remember those who refused to kill in wars globally and stood in solidarity with people who are still suffering for their resistance.

Campaigners came together in Euston, central London, as well as in Edinburgh, Leicester, Manchester, Bradford and around the world on International Conscientious Objectors’ Day.

The London ceremony took place in front of a memorial stone in Tavistock Square, where events have been held every year since 1998.

Scotland Against Militarism’s Jay Sutherland, 18, who made headlines for challenging military activities in his school in Ayrshire, told the crowd they needed to continue to “fight against the militarisation of society, whatever forms it comes in.”

He said that militarism has always been a youth issue as “the war machine relies on converting generations of young people to believe their politically charged lies.”

Mr Sutherland added: “I saw the army come into my community and try to persuade people who were hit hardest by austerity to keep buying into the very structure and state that had harmed their lives. 

“My generation needs to realise we are the ones that give away our power; the armed forces rely on the disenfranchisement and miseducation of us.

“We need to see that why would we want to be part of a institution that requires that of us, only then we will see the armed forces start losing their power.”

Names of 85 representative objectors were read out, one from as many countries as could be found, while white flowers were laid on the memorial stone. A minute’s silence followed and songs were sung in their memories.

The day marked the centenary of the release of most conscientious objectors who were still in prison in 1919 for refusing to fight in the first world war.

First World War Peace Forum spokeswoman Valerie Flessati said that imprisonment for conscientious objection still happens today.

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