By Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist for the Middle East Coordination Group
Natan Blanc, 19-year-old Israeli conscientious objector, was freed from detention on Tuesday and officially discharged from the Israeli army yesterday.
Our last blog on Natan Blanc’s case asked, “What Will it Take for the Israeli Military to Stop Imprisoning Natan Blanc?” We believed it would take Amnesty International members and other activists making their concerns known and taking action – and because you did – Natan Blanc is now FREE after being forced to serve 10 consecutive prison sentences for his refusal to serve in the Israeli military based on his conscientiously held beliefs.
Natan Blanc’s father received a call on May 30th from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision follows a ruling by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not.
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Halil Savda at a Write for Rights event in France on Human Rights Day, December 10, 2011 (Photo Credit: Michael Sawyer for Amnesty International).
This May 15, International Conscientious Objectors Day, is an opportunity to both celebrate the steady acceptance of this fundamental right and to highlight those countries who have not taken the basic steps to protect it.
In Europe for example, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recognized conscientious objection as a protected right in 2011 when, in Bayatyan v Armenia, it ruled that conscientious objection was subject to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. Unfortunately, as an Amnesty statement released today highlights, three European countries, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, still refuse to accept this basic obligation under international law.
Amnesty’s position on conscientious objection is clear:
The right to conscientious objection to military service is not a marginal concern outside the mainstream of international human rights protection and promotion. The right to conscientious objection is a basic component of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion – as articulated in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
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Natan Blanc (Photo Credit: Hagar Shezaf for Amnesty International).
Written by Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist, Middle East Coordination Group
Each year, a handful of courageous Israeli teenagers are imprisoned for refusing to serve in the military on grounds of conscience. Natan Blanc, 19, from Haifa has been imprisoned eight times in four months for his refusal to serve in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Amnesty International considers those imprisoned for total or selective objection to military service for reasons of conscience to be prisoners of conscience. Blanc spoke to Amnesty International about his motivation for objecting to military service in February 2013. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST