Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Descendants will honour the conscientious objectors of the First World War


Thursday 15 May 2014, London

Descendants of 50 First World War conscientious objectors will take part in this year’s International Conscientious Objectors Day commemoration in Tavistock Square, London WC1, on 15 May. In all there were an estimated 20,000 COs to the First World War, many motivated by religious faith, many by political and socialist convictions, and often by a combination of these beliefs. Some of these descendants are daughters and sons of men who endured repeated imprisonment and force-feeding for their anti-war convictions, or worked with Friends’ Ambulance and War Victim Relief services. 

The ceremony at 12 noon will include the naming of each CO by family members who will bring their photographs and lay flowers at the granite memorial to conscientious objectors.

To include a speaker from a German branch of War Resisters’ International, and one from Quaker Peace and Social Witness who will talk about how conscientious objectors are still being imprisoned in some countries today.
The CO ceremony is being organised by the First World War Peace Forum – a coalition made up of Conscience, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Network for Peace, Pax Christi, Peace News, Peace Pledge Union, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, the Right to Refuse to Kill group and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Some related London events on 15 May (see also previous post)

10.30am – Launch of Quaker online project ‘The White Feather Diaries’ - telling the stories of Quaker First World War COs - which will go live on 4 August 2014.  Friends House, opposite Euston Station, NW1 2BJ

11.30am to 3pm there will be an exhibition in Friends House Library of rare artefacts and diaries belonging to imprisoned COs.

4.30pm – launch of two books about the First World War conscientious objectors will take place in Friends House Library:
Comrades in Conscience: the story of an English Community’s Opposition to the Great War by Cyril Pearce (c.pearce@btinternet.com)
and Objection Overruled: Conscription and Conscience in the First World War by David Boulton (Quaker History Society).

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