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THE CASE OF SHMOEL BARUN
THE CASE OF SHMOEL BARUN
Shmoel Barun is aconscientious objector, who has spend more than 120 days in prison until now, in adittion to several months of detentions. i bring here his moving story, in his own words. Shmuel is now back at the training center. he is likely to be sent again to prison soon.
My name is Shmuel Barun, military id. 39154240. on 18.3.2002 I was drafted into the IDF and since then I'm in a constant struggle with the army. 365 days of shifting between detention, grounding, desertion, prison. 365 days during which I hardly saw my home, my family, and the world outside of the army.
By my nature I am a pacifist. I do not believe in any form of violence, physical or verbal, and so I knew I was going to refuse to go to the occupied territo-ries, or to be a combat soldier, or to be a "combat supporting" soldier, but still, I wanted to serve my country. Luckily, the army approached me while I was in high school and offered me a position in the intelligence branch as a programmer. I went through a long chain of interviews and exams, which lasted 8 months, and I was told that I was accepted into that position. I was asked to sigh for KEVA (an extra year or more, for which one gets paid). This service was supposed to be in the center of Israel, without uniform, and without handling weapons or the use of force of any kind. I thought my worries were over. My draft date was post-poned by three months so I can attend an intel-ligence course in time. A week before that date I got a letter with said that due to certain consi-derations of the unit, it was decided that I would not be sent there. They didn't say were I was going or why I was rejected. I Tried to find out many times at the induction center and the unit itself but no one gave me an answer. The drafting date was postponed by three months more, until March 2002. During the long period of time since high school until the drafting, my belief that our country is making a mistake grew stronger. That what the army is doing in the OT's, the abuse of force, abuse of innocent civilians, and the oppression of an other people, is a grave mistake, and contrary to anything I was brought up to believe in. I was brought up in a home where violence was comple-tely forbidden, and strongly condemned. I was taught to believe that one must use his brain to solve conflicts, and not force. I will not, under any circumstances use force against any human being, and I will not support an organization that does such things.
At 18.3.2002 I went to the induction center, and after I drafted I was told I am going to be sent to a training center for combat engineering, and that I'm destined for a combat training. I refused to go on the bus,was put in detention for the whole day, by the end of which I was tried for refusing orders. I was afraid of going to prison, and an officer scared me by saying that I will have a criminal record because of this, and other kind of strange inventions. I agreed to go and got 14 days on probation. She (the officer) told me, after I explai-ned her my problems, that the IDF will help me and I believed her. Only after I got to the training place I realized how bitter my mistake was.
I tired to explain the staff there my problems, but I was ignored and dealt with with contempt. I refused to take a weapon, and refused to join the training at all. I went through a series of groun-dings and detentions, by the end of the four months there the staff made me work in kitchen and cleaning jobs. I hardly saw my home. There was one time when I was grounded to the base for 45 days straight, because I wouldn't take a gun. During these 4 months I was offered to become a "combat support" soldier, but I refused, and I tried to explain to all the staff and officers that I cannot
be such a soldier. I tried to get posted to a new position, one that does not involve handling weapons or the use of force, and does not include serving in the OT's, but my requests met with rejection and a continuous array of trials. After spending 2 months at the training base, the base commander interviewed me. He threatened me that if I continue refusing he will send me to prison again and again and will never release me or change my post to a non combat one. I tried to talk to every possible person: the metal health officer, and all the other people that are supposed to help with such cases, repeated talks with the officer in charge, but all my requests were refused. I was tried again and again for refusing to take a weapon and to join the training.
During my stay at that place, I had the chance to talk to combat soldiers who came there to undergo some training., I was stricken by The horror sto-ries I heard form them, about how they mistreat Palestinians, and the tales of so called "bravery" they heard form their friends in other units, the enthusiasm they showed when they told there stories, the rolling laughter ,and slowly my belief grew stronger that the IDF is making a grave mis-take in the OT's. I became very Angry at the state, which allows these things to happen, but still I wanted to serve my country, in a way that will have nothing to do with these actions.
After 4 months of trials and hard labor, 4 months of disrespect and contempt, I was told I am going again to a combat training on August 2002, to 4 more such months. I didn't know what to do and to whom I can turn for help, I lost hope and I stayed home. I didn't go back for two and a half months, and during that time I caught up with the world news, and especially the news from home, which I wasn't able to get at the training center. The horrible images and news of the violence on the OT's, and conversations with my close friends, have helped me to realize that will no support In any way an organization like the IDF, not in a non-combat position, or in any other position. I thought about it for 2.5 months and I made my decision that will not, under any circumstances serve in the army of Israeli occupation, which brutally oppres-ses the Palestinian people, and which gives it's soldiers a free hand to humiliate and abuse innocent civilians.
I turned myself in to prison 4, was court martialed and sentenced to 52 days. During my stay in prison I met other CO's, as well as other combat soldiers spending time for abuse or for using excessive force against Palestinians. After many conversa-tions with these people my belief that I'm doing the right thing grew even stronger and I decided to take it all the way through. I gave back to the prison guards my uniform and military i.d. card, and was put in the isolation ward. The prison commander has added 28 days more to my original sentence (a total of 80 days) for my refusal to wear a uniform. Most of that sentence I spent in the isolation wards of prisons 4 & 6, and I was subject to mistreatment, abuse, shouting and living conditions that are worse that those of murderers and rapists. During that time I refused to work or do anything, which is useful to the army. And for that I was tried over and over. After my sentence was over I went back into the training center, wearing civilian clothes and with a clear mind and conscience , knowing fully well that I am going to refuse to be a part of the IDF, and that I am willing to suffer the consequences of this refusal. I explained to the commanders were things stood with me, and was answered with a humiliating attitude. They refused to let me eat until I wear a uniform, and only by complaining to the local "city officer" did I finally get some food.
I was tried to 14 days im prison, which I spent at the isolation ward of prison 4. when that period was over I went back to the base, was sentenced again to 28 days for refusing to wear a uniform and to carry a gun. I Spent those days in the isolation ward as well. Now I am about to return to the base, to be tired again. to go back to the isolation ward, and so on.
When will this misery end? Is one year of torture not enough to understand that a person will not serve in the army, no matter how hard the army will try to break or ruin him? I already spent a total of 120 days in prison, and the end is not in sight. Is there no one who can solve my problem? Doesn't anyone care about the yearlong suffering I went through? I demand to see the "unsuitability committee" , so I can finally end the torture and all these attempts to break my spirit, which ruin my life, and the lives of other young men who refuse to serve in the army for reasons of conscience, and spend long and hard periods of imprisonment in military prisons.
When will this end?
soldiers who are at the front assisting combat soldiers, but do not fight them-selves, such as drivers.
every city has an army officer through which the public and families of soldiers can reach the army
this committee exempts soldiers form servise, because they are "not suitable" for military service. Usually CO's got exempt this way, but during the past seven month the army refuses to let CO's access to this committee, therefore leaving them with no route out of the army.
We recently became aware of another objector, Shmoel Baron, who already spent several prison terms. Shmoel is a pacifist who is struggling, for a year now, to get released from the army. A year ago he enlisted, because he was promised a service without uniform or weapons, as a computer pro-grammer. However he was sent to undergo combat training. He has refused to carry a weapon, or to undergo the combat training, and has already spent more than 120 days in prison, most of that time is the isolation ward. Shmoel has written a very moving and detailed account of his past year of struggle. The letter is too long to be brought here, so I attach it as a text file. At the moment, and for the next couple of days, Shoemel is home, because of illness, however, he is expected to be imprisoned again when he returns.
In this case the most effective action is to write to the commander of the training base, and ask that Shmoel will be allowed to see an "unsuitability committee". It is always recommended and more effective to use the sample letter as a source of inspiration only, and to send your own version.
The address is:
BSIS TIRUNIM HANDASA KRAVIT
Military post 02302
Fax: +972 8 6352273
A sample letter:
To: Lieutenant Colonel Binyamin Shik,
I am writing to express my concern about a Shmoel Baron, i.d. 7172763, so is currently under your command. Shmoel is a pacifit , who does not believe in violence, and is not capable of harming another human being. He refuses to take a weapon, and to undergo combat training. While you would expect that such a person, who wants to serve his counry, would be sent to a post where the use of arms or force is not required, Shmoel's such requests were answered with imprisonment over and over again. until he has spent more that 120 days in prison, most of that time in the isolation ward, where conditions are very harsh. How long will this continue? . I feel that Shmoel is not the kind of person that can become a soldier. I there-fore urge you to let Shmoel see an unsuitability committee (VAADAT I- HATA'MA).