Fifth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Hondarribia, Spain 1994

The General Letters

1st letter (1993/2/2)

Dear friends:

I am Pedro Otaduy, a member of the ASAMBLEA DE OBJECIÓN FISCAL of Pamplona-Iruñea. In the recent IVth International Conference of War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns that took place the last November in Brussels, the Spanish group on War Tax Resistance ( Objeción Fiscal, OF) proposed itself for preparing the next meeting. The proposal was accepted and with this letter we send you the first invitation to take part on it.

The meting will take place at the end of September 1994 (it could be 15-17 or 22-24). We have not booked the place yet, but we want to do it in Hondarribia-Fuenterrabia, just in the border between Spain and France, in the Basque Country (to be Spain or not to be Spain, this is a question).

Looking at the notes we took in the Brussels' conference, we can find some proposals for the next one: what's conscience, tax resistance and the armies' new role, the possibility of the extension of tax resistance to other parties of the budget. There are some other topics that will be necessary to discuss about on the meeting: legislation, situation in the different countries,... With this letter we invite you to start working in these ideas and in any other that you wish. Then, send them to us: we will collect all them and resent them to you. We would like to do it before next summer, so let us propose you a calendar:

This is only an scheme that, obviously, can be modified at any moment. It is just the departure of the nest meeting's preparation. We are waiting for your answers. Any suggestion will be kindly remercied and taken into account.

With our best wishes,

Pamplona-Iruñea, February 2nd, 1993

2nd letter (1993/7/25)

Dear friends:

I am Pedro Otaduy, from the group on War Tax Resistance of Pamplona-Iruñea. We have received several proposals concerning the Vth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and peace tax campaigns during the last months. Our first idea was to collect them during May and to send them back to you in June. As you can see, we are in a great delay. There is not any excuse, just that we have been very busy in our campaign that takes place from April until the end of June. We apologize and we are going to do what we had to do two months earlier.

We think that it would be a good idea to start telling you in a short way the ideas we have received:

And most of the people said that all the topics of Brussels were interesting.

In few lines we can say that the people who have wrote us agreed with the mainlines of the IVth Conference. Nevertheless, in some letters we have read two critics: First, there was a lot of emphasis on Peace Tax Legislation (which is fine) but no mention on grassroots organizing to make the numbers of people in the taxes-for-peace movement to grow from the extremely small numbers that we are now, and second, we must have a closer relationship with people who came from outside the developed world. In Brussels we were lucky having with us two friends from India and Honduras who told us about their experiences since their very different point of view. We should do an effort to increase this presence. Some of us have already taken the initiative: the USA's NWTRCC proposes a speaker from the group of Palestinians who are refusing to pay taxes to the Israeli government. They say too that some of them may be willing to help raise some money to get a person from Palestine to the Conference. From Germany we have had notice that in the Netzwerk Friedenssteuer they have set up a travel fund for participants from Eastern Europe and from the Third World. We thought this point very interesting, but we don't know if we are ready to take the responsibility of this. Which are the groups we should invite and help? Perhaps it would be better if the International Committee assumes this task or someone from the War Resisters International who will know about this quite better than we do in Pamplona. We are ready to take note of all these initiatives and if someone accepts this work we will hand him or her all the information.

We received other two ideas that we want to tell you: in Brussels we spent a lot of time deciding about the place for the next conference. Why not deciding about it before the meeting? It could be a good idea. We think that the final decision should be taken in the Conference, but if we know the possibilities in advance, the discussion can be quite shorter. In Brussels we heard three proposals: India (for 1994) and, talking about 1996, United Kingdom and Canada. We don't know if these proposals are still on and if there is any more, but from this moment on we ask you about this: Does your group want to prepare the VIth Conference? Tell us and we will let the other groups know about all the proposals.

The second idea was that in Brussels we spent a lot of time (too) talking about the situation in our different countries and that it is very convenient to hand most of this information in a writing report (as some groups did in Brussels): If every participant can read about what's going on in the different countries before the conference, then you can ask specific questions at the conference and get much further. It also helps to understand each other quicker and better.

We do agree with these two ideas and we are ready to receive your reports and send them to all the groups. We have already prepared a question form asking you for some information about your work. Each group can (should?) do a report in the way it wants, but if you answer the question form it will be easier to know the situation in each country.

Among all the proposals that we have received there is one that we would like to transcribe you. We think that this idea must be known for all of us:

We should decide a declaration of the human right of refusal the tax-money in reason of conscientious objections. I think an international declaration in this matter would have a great public attention.

The declaration should contain a historical and philosophical explanation of the right of the freedom of conscience. It should also contain the reason why refusal of tax-money does not threaten the state, but this right is necessary in view of the big dangers of technical progress especially in war-technology for the survival of the human kind. Last it should contain a catalogue of demands concerning the installation of this right in national and international law.

A small team should prepare a draft of this declaration as basis for the discussion at the conference in Spain.

We think this is a very interesting idea that we have to assume. Our proposal is to create this small team (we are thinking once again in the International Committee: Its members can accept this task or delegate in some other people that they know they are able to do it). We will send to this team all the ideas that arrive to Pamplona. Later, at the beginning of next spring, this team can have the draft of this declaration ready to be sent to all of us and so, ready to be discussed in our respective countries before the starting of the Vth Conference.

That can be the resume of all the letters that we have received. It's about time to propose you a guideline for the Vth Conference. We would like to keep the structure of the previous meeting, that is, we will work in some moments in a plenary session and in other moments there will be some workshops, no more than four at the same time. We think it should be interesting to hear some experts talking about some topics. The subjects we are thinking on are the armies' new role, disarmament and developing and, last, civil disobedience. The idea is to have a short introduction, 30-45 minutes, and then a discussion about it all together.

We have to tell you that in Spain we usually have the meals in a non usual (for the foreigners) time: Breakfast at 8 am, dinner at 2 pm and supper at 9 pm more or less, so we are thinking in a different timetable for our meeting. We suppose that we will start on Friday afternoon, so our proposal is:

Friday:

Saturday:

Sunday:

We have paid a big attention in this guideline to the declaration because we really think it is a great idea. We will see in your next letters if you agree with us.

As you can see, with our proposal we will have the possibility of attending three workshops instead of two. If there is not a great objection against this, we will try to keep it.

We have grouped all the subjects that you have proposed in four topics:

  1. Legislation and peace tax; lobbying on war tax resistance; juridical questions; Religious bodies
  2. Conscience and non violence in XXIth century; What's conscience; War Tax resistance: a personal attitude or a collective civil disobedience?; Tax resistance to other entries of the budget.
  3. Analysis of the different campaigns; Grassroots level experiences; War Tax Resistance's risks and how to face them.
  4. War Tax Resistance in non democratic and occupied countries; Helping the developing of other countries; War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns: a privilege of the industrialized nations?

These guidelines are fairly open to any further change. We will study all your suggestions about the conference. During the end of this summer and next autumn you can start discussing about all these ideas. Our work will be to prepare the titles of all the workshops, joining two of them when necessary (for example, set b has more than the three titles that it can). We will also start getting in touch in order to ask some of you to be in charge of one of the workshops (that will not be before next October). We have already received some offerings and suggestions that we will keep in mind.

You can send us your suggestions and ideas until the end of November. We will work on them during December and in January you will receive the definitive proposal on which you will be able to work.

Please, take note of our new fax number. In September we will open in Pamplona a Peace House that is, a new residence for our group that will be, by the way, a public library on pacifism, ecology, antimilitarism,... We have been working for it during the last two years and it seems that it will be ready in a couple of months. If there is not any change, the fax number will be 34/48-21 05 30.

You have received with this letter a question form. Please: try to send it back to us in a short time. It s processing can be harder than it seems and we want to do it before December.

With our best wishes,

Pamplona-Iruñea, July 25th,1993

Question Form:

  1. Personal data: Name and family name. Year of birth. What year did you start being involved in War tax resistance and Peace tax campaigns? When you started, you did it...
    1. by yourself
    2. following a group's strategy.

    Nowadays you do it...

    1. by yourself,
    2. following a group's strategy
  2. Group's data: What's the name of the group you are involved in, in your mother tongue, in English?
  3. Group's address in your town. Is there any kind of national coordination in your country? If yes, address of it. Is there a national coordinator? If yes, who is her or him? How many national meetings do you hold every year? Which are the slogans you use for your campaigns? What year did people start working on War tax resistance and Peace tax campaigns? When did your group born? When did the national coordinating group born?
  4. The way to do war tax resistance and peace tax campaign: What kind of tax do you use for your War tax resistance and Peace tax campaigns: Income tax, VAT, Other(what?). The money you divert is the same for every one or is a percentage of something. What is the amount/percentage diverted? Why? With the diverted money, every person decides about it, the group decides about it, the group proposes and every person decides. Tell us briefly about what you have done with the money in the last two years.
  5. Some economical data: A billion is for you: 1.000 million or 1.000.000 million. Give us, in ECUs or dollars, the next economic data of your country, saying us of which year they are, please. Gross National Product (GNP)? National budget. Military budget. Population. Explain us briefly the formal way to pay your taxes: Do you present a tax form or does the Government prepare it for you, do you have to pay the whole of your taxes at the same moment or do you pay them every month as a part of your salary,...
  6. The results of your campaigns: How many war tax resisters and peace tax campaign holders have you been in your country in the last years? How much money have you diverted? What happens to war tax resisters and peace tax campaign holders when the Government notices what have they do: nothing, fines, seizures of bank accounts, seizures of goods, prison?
  7. Some juridical aspects: Is there any law related to war tax resistance and peace tax campaigns in you country? If yes, explain briefly. Does your country's Constitution talk about :Conscientious objection, Conscientious objection just to the military service, the right to freedom of conscience, the respect for Human Rights, the degree of allegiance to International Treaties on Human Rights
  8. What should we ask but we don't?

3rd letter (1994/1/30)

Dear friends of War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns:

We have received a lot of letters since our last one of July 25, 1993. It's time now for refunding all the ideas and suggestions we haver received and resend them to you. At the same time, we will ask you to filling in the registration form for the Vth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace tax Campaigns. This is the last general letter we will send and after it only those who send us this form will receive the preparation material for the Vth Conference.

The place and the date.

The Vth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace tax Campaigns will take place in Hondarribia (Fuenterrabía) from September 16th to September 18th. We will meet in the Juan Sebastian Elkano youth hostel located over the bay of Txingudi.

Hondarribia is on the corner of the Biskay gulf. It is in the Basque country, just in the border between Spain and France. It's close to Irun and Hendaya, which have international railway stations, and in the same village is the San Sebastian- Fuenterrabia airport and quite near is the Biarritz airport. The international motorway that links Madrid and Paris passes trough Irun too. It is and old fishers village fairly well conserved. Nowadays it's a touristic village, but tourism has not damaged it too much (four of its new buildings are horrible, but the others are quite all right).

Hondarribia is the Basque name of the town and, since not long ago, the official one, but in Spanish language it's called Fuenterrabia. You will find this one in the maps, but if you come by car you will find sometimes one, sometimes the other.

Is Hondarribia Spain? Officially, it is in Spain and if you ask to any Spanish people they will tell you so, of course, it is Spain, but if you ask the Basque people some of us will say that, of course, it is Spain and some of us will say that, of course, it is not. That's a consequence of what we call the national problem, but it's out of doubt that this topic is not a subject for our meeting, so let's go.

The program.

We proposed you a program with its timetable in our last letter. We have read all the suggestions you have done in your answers and with all them we have prepared a definitive program. This definitive program can be modified (excuses for our contradictions!). The only thing that we can not change is the meal's time table: we must accept the habits of the hostel. As you have suggested, we have reduced the number of lectures to one and we hold the possibility of attending three workshops along the conference. And in our first proposal we forgot to give the International Committee time to tell us what they have done this two years (and we can assure you that it has been a lot). The program, so, will be:

Friday, September 16:

Saturday, September 17:

Sunday, September 18:

It could seem too much, but we think that if we have just 48 hours to be together we should make an effort and profit from them as much as possible.

The sets of workshops are:

    1. Legislation and juridic cases.
    2. What's conscience?
    3. What's on in different countries.
    4. UN peacekeeping operations (the armies new role).
    1. Lobbying for peace tax legislation.
    2. War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Funds as a human right.
    3. Facing the risks of doing War Tax Resistance.
    4. War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns: a direct effort to reduce military spending.
    1. Religious bodies.
    2. Analysis of different cases of civil disobedience in different parts of the world.
    3. Increasing the number of wartax resisters and peace tax funds supporters.
    4. War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax and the dichotomy North-South.

Each workshop will have a resource person who will decide if is necessary a chair person (and, if needed, who will be).

The presence of people not from the north world.

All the friends that have written to us agree with the idea of hearing some friends from other countries than the north world. In Brussels we met with Arya Bhardwaj, from India, and César Flores, from Honduras. The suggestions we have received in your letters talk about about people from Eastern Europe, former Yugoslavia, Palestine and Latin America. By the way, USA's NWTRCC has started getting in contact with a group of Palestinians who are refusing to pay taxes to the Israeli government. We think that this could be a great opportunity for knowing something about tax resistance in a fair different situation than ours.

Do we need more speakers than the Palestinian? To have more would bring us to face two problems: The money we have to help them in their travels and the time we have to hear them in Hondarribia. As you can see, we have reserved Saturday from 12'15 to 13'30 for these speakers and the time table is quite full. If more people from not north countries come, they will have to share this time. That's possible, perhaps, for two speakers, but we don't think so for three or more. Anyway, there still being the workshops and the free time for sharing the different experiences. We must say you that we hope a Paraguayan representative will attend the conference.

The budget.

We are not experts in such economic works but we have worked out a budget for the Vth conference. We estimate that we will be 60 participants (we hope we will be more than this).

Expenses (in pesetas):

Preparation works:

Conference:

Proceedings:

Total Plus unexpected expenses 1.500.000

As income, we only have what all the participants will pay. Their/our lodgement will cost something less than 7.000 peseta and if we charge 1.000 peseta more in concept of material that means 480.000 peseta.

As you can see we are thinking of a deficit of more than 1.000.000 peseta. It's too much, The Spanish group on War Tax Resistance has dedicated to the conference 150.000 peseta in 1993, money that is taken up from the national fund for War Tax Resistance campaigns. This is an open fund in which all the war tax resisters can put some money for supporting our campaigns. We had this money in 1993, but we don't know how much we will have in 1994. We would like to have the same amount, but we can't assure it. Let us suppose that we reach it: we will still be needing 700.000 peseta.

Looking at the financial report of the Brussels' meeting, we see that there were some gifts for an amount of 164.516 BEF, that is, 550.000 peseta more or less. If we receive the same economic help, the final deficit will be of 150.000 peseta.

We don't know what to do. We accepted the task of preparing the Vth conference, but that does not mean the necessity of our economic crack. We have two ideas for reducing costs. The first one is to reduce all the mailing to just one person per country and organisation. The stamps for international mail are really expensive so it would save a lot of money either in the preparatory or in the post-conference works (the first one is done, but we can learn for next meetings). The second one is quite evident: the interpretation equipment is really expensive and it's used in few times (in the plenary sessions, no more). We are not the UN, not the EP and we have to assume that in this kind of meetings is necessary a common language for all of us. Nowadays, Esperanto is just an idea and we must realise that English is a real possibility. It should be absolutely possible to find someone who speaks English in each organisation, more than one. We should think about this and decide in Hondarribia for next meetings.

At this point we have to ask you if you or your group can help us to get the money we need. If yes, tell us as soon as possible in order to decide about our expenses. We are trying to find some other financial sources, for example, the tourism bureau of Hondarribia and the cultural department of the local government, but the Spanish economical crisis doesn't allow us to be optimistic in this point.

Other activities.

Time is quite full between Friday 15'00 and Sunday 14'00, but it's possible to do something before and after this time. As we have said, Hondarribia is a nice place to spend your holidays (it has a beach, and close to it there are San Sebastian and Biarritz and some easy mountains), but we are thinking about the possibility of doing a one-day trip to Gernika. Perhaps it's a little bit far away from Hondarribia (100 kilometers more or less) but it could be interesting for us to visit a town that suffered in such a direct way the effects of war. It could be the day before the conference starts. If you have another idea, let us know.

We ask you:

We apologize to you:

We thank you:

We hope we will meet next September all of us in Hondarribia

In Pamplona-Iruñea, January 30, the International Day of Non-Violence and Peace, 1994.

Economical report

* We received another gift from a woman not attendant to the Conference. Its amount, 475.567 PTA, was so high that we decided not to accept it on the whole. We were really impressed by her generosity and the confidence she showed in our work, but we think it was no fair to accept that a single person paid the third of the total cost of the Conference. We talked about it the last day in Hondarribia. So we have not consider it in this box. We will use a part of it to pay the deficit we have got and we will give her back the other part.

As we have said in the paragraph before, this deficit of 74.441 PTA will be covered by this extremely generous gift we received.

We received some other financial helps for the travel funds for the people from the not western world. We failed in our efforts for having with us representatives from the Nigerian Peace Committee so we didn't use this travel fund. We will give back these gifts to those who did them.

There is a expense that is not very accurate. It is Office material. During this time we have been using the material of the Movement on Conscientious Objection (MOC). We share with them the office, Bakearen Etxea, and they don't ask us anything in change. But this time has been special. We have paid directly the bill of telephone and fax of August and September, when we did the most especial work by phone, but we have used quite more things along these two years, not only the phone but their material too (paper, envelopes, phone, portfolios,...) So we have thought that it should be fair to help them with some money (I have to recognise that I'm a member of the MOC too, but I think it is just. Pedro).

Once again, we want to thank you for the help you gave to the Conference.

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