Imprisoned refuser pays tribute

IssueDecember 2002 - February 2003
News by Lindsay Barnes

“In prison, when I am forced to salute state and army, I shall, in my mind and heart, be saluting all my brave friends ... all those who sacrifice so much more then I for peace, against the occupation.”

How you can take action

  • Publicise this abuse via email, websites and word of mouth.
  • Write letters of appeal to the media. See for Israeli media.
  • Write to the prisoners: [Prisoner's name], POB 16238, Tel-Aviv, Israel and copy to .
  • Write letters to protest to your local Israel embassy and to Israeli Minister of Defence, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. See web address above for military and government officials' addresses, and a standard sample letter.

These are the words of Haggai Matar, who was jailed for 14 days for rejecting Israel's army conscription. “The voice of conscience and the lessons humanity should have derived from countless similar situations in the past leave me no choice but to refuse enlistment into the Israeli army - which is falsely dubbed a `defensive force',” he wrote.

He is one of eight refusers who were thrown into prison at the end of October, including Dror Beuml (given 14 days; his third consecutive sentence), Niv Goldkin (14 days), `A' (21 days) and `T' (who wish to remain anonymous), Yuval Daphny (28 days), a 23-year-old student handed a second term and Yigal Bronner (28 days).

Avi Ende, a 26-year-old pacifist, was sentenced to 21 days in a detention cell in Sde Dov base, Kanaf 5, where conditions are reportedly worse than a military prison.

The newly convicted refusers joined others serving 28 days' imprisonment: Jonathan Ben-Arzi (his fourth prison sentence), Nir Evron, Uri Ya'akobi (fourth prison sentence), Dani Greenwald, aged 28, Yuval Endurn, aged 28, Avner Avar, aged 21, Ig'al Unik, aged 35, and Idan Eisner, aged 28. Yoni Yehezkel was jailed for 21 days - his third sentence.

Other CO news

A Turkish conscientious objector, Mehmet Bal, who was imprisoned on 24 October, has gone on a hunger strike. Armenian conscientious objector Vagan Bayatyan, a Jehovah's Witness, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.