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British recognition of CO spreads

Ceremonies to mark International COs' Day on 15 May are becoming more widespread in Britain, having taken place in at least seven cities this year. The day was established by War Resisters' International in 1982, and has since been a focus of anti-militarist events worldwide each year.

In Edinburgh, a ceremony involving both Green and Scottish Socialist MSPs included reading a list of Scottish COs who had suffered for their principles in the last two World Wars.

In the Peace Garden near Manchester's city centre, white flowers were laid commemorating, one by one, dozens of individual COs through the ages, each from a different country.

In Birmingham, at the city's Peace Garden at St Thomas's church in Edgbaston, white flowers were also laid in memory of COs from around the world. The speaker at the event was Joyce Millington, who - in Bristol in 1942 - became the first woman objector to appear before a CO tribunal during the Second World War.

A wreath of white flowers was laid at the Temple of Peace in Cathays Park, Cardiff, during a ceremony involving members of various peace organisations include CND and UNA.

In London, a ceremony took place at the CO Commemorative Stone in Tavistock Square. The stone was sited there in 1992 and has been a focus for London events ever since. Involving peace campaigners from a range of organisations, not only at the pacifist end of the movement, as well as people from both religious and secularist groups, the event included songs, the laying of flowers dedicated to named COs from around the world, and a speech by Angela Sinclair, a Second World War conscientious objector from Britain.

An inspiring and timeless example of the case for objection - the statement by Arthur Creech Jones to his First World War court martial following forcible enlistment - was read out at a ceremony in Exeter.

Contact: Peace Pledge Union, 1 Peace Passage, Brecknock Road, London N7 (020-7424 9444; enquiry@ppu.org.uk).

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