Yahel Avigur (ISR14709), a pacifist conscientious objector to military service from Qiriat Motzkin, near Haifa has been sentenced on Sunday, 27 February 2005, to 28 days in military prison. The charge against him was that he refused to wear military uniform. He was not imprisoned immediately. Rather, he was detained yesterday in the Beit-Lid military base, and is due to be transferred to Military Prison No. 4 in Tzrifin today (1 March). He is due to be released from prison on Friday, 25 March 2005. It is very likely that he will be sent to prison again soon afterwards, probably several times. In fact, the officer who sentenced him, one Zeev Sharoni, took bother to tell Yahel so at the time of the 'trial'.
This is the second prison term for Yahel. He has already spent 14 days in prison in late October and early November 2004, but at the time he asked us not to give publicity to his case (which is why it was not reported back then). Yahel has decided to refuse to perform military service already after he has been formally enlisted. After his first prison term, he was allowed to appear before the internal military Conscience Committee. The committee summoned to hear Yahel's appeal was not the Conscience Committee in its present make-up, which also includes one civilian member, but rather the Committee in its older make-up, with military career officers alone as members. This committee has turned down his request for exemption from military service on grounds of conscience, but no formal notification of that decision, nor any statement of the grounds for rejecting his appeal have been given to date. It should be mentioned that appeals by soldiers to this committee have practically always been rejected.
In a statement he has made shortly before his second arrest, Yahel Avigur writes:
"...The procedures that might have led to my discharge from the army have been exhausted. Although I have made my intentions clear and have proven their sincerity, my right to be discharged has not been recognised. All I can do now is to refuse to obey any order given me, and to spend some time in prison, until the military system realises it is unreasonable to continue my incarceration.
I believe that in every person there is the potential to live a life of peace and love to others and to oneself; a potential to comprehend the basic identity between oneself and every human being - for we are all born, breathe and die. We are saddened by the same things: we all fear decay and death, failures, disappointments. Every person has the potential to understand that one is part of a huge interrelated system, all of the components of which are essentially the same, as they are manifestations of life. I see how we are drawn away from realising this comprehension by forming barriers and borders between ourselves and 'the other', by believing we are different than the others and even hostile to them. Thus we create ever more suffering - for ourselves as well as for the other.
I see how humanity acts increasingly to entrench this perception. Wars and borders between States, inter-class alienation, viewing the environment as a mere resource, which I should exploit for my own personal benefit - these are some of the manifestations of this perception, and they to are gaining strength. Today there is no doubt that this way leads to the destruction of the human species and perhaps of the whole world. Weapons of mass destruction, in the hands of thousands of people willing to destroy everything in the name of this perception. A collapsing ecological system, which we all consume in the name of this perception, lead us towards certain death.
Violence is fed by this perception, which presents me as different from the other. The willingness to harm a creature perfectly identical to oneself can only come out of a denial of this basic identity, and of a belief that an essential difference exists between the two. Thus, the use of violence blinds our eyes to seeing the other and feeds this false and destructive perception.
Violence spreads ever further. A person who has been the victim of violence would internalise it and turn it towards the other. A person who has used violence internalises the alienation from others and the willingness to use violence against them. The use of violence would only bring further violence. A solution for violence can only come out of nonviolence. Only the complete abolishment of violence, and replacing it with a sense of equality, listening, empathy and love as the forces taking hold of the mind, may bring violence to a stop and allow us to live in peace, us and the others. Only an attempt to actually fulfil what clearly needs fulfilling, only liberation from the perception counter-posing one human being to another, may turn us around and lead us away from the brink of an abyss.
In the name of these beliefs I have chosen not to fill the ranks of the army.
I love many people. My family, my girlfriend, my friends ... my tutors. They all taught me to love everything, to love myself, to love every human being. This is all I want. This is my only statement. This is the only reason for doing what I do.
I love you all very much.
20 Feb. 2005
War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Yahel Avigur.
Yahel Avigur (Military ID 7379352)
Military Prison No 4
Military postal number 02507
War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to Israeli authorities, and Israeli embassies abroad. An email letter can be sent at http://www.wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20050301a.html.
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of Yahel Avigur and all imprisoned conscientious objectors.
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Commander of Military Prison No 6
Military Prison No 6
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[ on conscientious objectors facing repression ]
01 March 2005
Conscription and Conscientious Objection Documentation
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