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

Sunday Morning: Last Plenary Session

Pedro: Good morning. Today I will use Spanish that is quite better than my English. This way we will begin the session of the last day of our 5th Conference. This session would have been used to read the conclusions of the different workshops held along the last days. But yesterday night we didn't get to finish discussing a topic such as War Taxes Resistance and Peace Taxes as a Human Right. So maybe, it would be worth having some time this morning to keep on talking about it. No more than thirty minutes, anyway, or even less if we can get to a general agreement, though. Once we have done this we will start reading the conclusions of the different workshops.

I would ask the people in charge of the different workshops to send us (to our address in Pamplona) a written report with these conclusions for next month, if possible for October the 19th. It would be even easier if they could send their information in a computer diskette instead of printed in paper because that way we could more easily edit the whole report by the end of the year.

Continuing the discussion on War Tax Resistance and Peace Taxes as a Human Right

Pedro: So, as I said, today let's get started from the point where we left it last night; this is: War Taxes Resistance and Peace Taxes as a Human Right. This morning, those four people in charge of the preparatory report have been talking about it, so I would ask any of them to tell us how everything is going and check whether it is possible to keep on working on it. Gerald, please.

Gerald: What do you want me to do?

Pedro: Let's see. Yesterday the discussion was open and the Spanish groups were working until late in order to get a proposal on the same document. I know that this morning you have been talking about this proposal (as an aim). If you think that we have got an agreed proposal on the topic...

Gerald: Yes, OK. Everybody gets the paper? Yes? OK I think everybody needs some time to read it. Two minutes.

The draft as it was Sunday morning:

DECLARATION

made by participants in the 5th International Conference of Peace Tax Campaigners and War Tax Resisters, at Hondarribia, Basque Country, Spain, 16-18 September 1994, concerning

THE RIGHT OF NON COLLABORATION WITH MILITARY EXPENDITURE.

All citizens have rights and duties, both as individuals and as citizens, and they also have the responsibility to hold those rights and duties in balance.

No person must be forced to violate a deeply-held conviction of conscience. Our concern is to contribute to the peaceful solution of conflicts; one aspect of this is our compelling concern for recognition of the right not to be involved, actively or passively, in the killing of our fellow human beings.

Most citizens are educated to defend their country only by military means. But we hold the strong conviction that nobody should support military preparations or actions, either by personal service or by contribution through taxation. We also hold it to be a violation of conscience that anybody should be forced into such support.

We ask that our conscientious right not to be involved in military expenditure be respected by legal measures, with our final aim being to reduce, in a real way, military expenditures. We can then work together with all citizens in building a society in which armies are not necessary and in which all human rights are respected.

Here. There's one thing that has to be ameliorated. The group may not be happy with non-collaboration because collaboration has a pejorative tone. We would suggest to write noncooperation which is more Gandhian.

It's in the title.

I would give a small correction to line number 5 from the bottom. It should read should be forced into giving such support. Thank you.

No objections from the small group. I think. No.

Yes, David?

In the second paragraph, first line, I submit to consideration the word should instead of must: no person should be forced.

In the 6th line from bottom I have a question about either by personal service or by contribution through taxation. In Germany we have other contributions. People are forced not only by personal service or contribution through taxation but, for instance register their cars in the case of war and some of them refuse, or for instance, in the health service, some people are asked to make special courses for the war and they refuse. So this is a sort of personal service but the cars, for instance, is not. I would say: all kinds of support for war, or war preparations should be included here. I don't know what... I have no better formulation but I would prefer a formulation with more flexibility.

Do you agree ...?

I think it's very easy to add either by personal service, by contribution to taxation or other. I repeat: either by personal service, by contribution to taxation or other, or other ways, other means...

...by any other means...

Just one little correction to the English version. I think in the second paragraph no person should be forced to violate one of his or her..., well, we should say any of his, not just one. I think. Is there another version? I haven't had that.

Not any problems? So, there is a great degree of consensus. Great!

I am looking at the paragraph beginning with most citizens are educated to defend their country by military means. I think that with all that has happened in the world we wouldn't have too much trouble because no one would be attacking other countries by military means. Unfortunately I come from a country where defence is really an issue. It's more a question of oppressing other countries through military means, so I would suggest that we make that a little more global by saying: Most citizens are educated to believe that military measures are a necessary part of international relations. Thereby including both enforcing the will of the country through military means as well as defending through military means. Should I repeat that? I would suggest changing the first sentence on the third paragraph to most citizens are educated to believe that military measures are a necessary part of international relations. And then, it would continue, as written: but we hold the strong conviction that nobody should support military preparations or actions.

One more time. Most citizens are educated to believe that military measures are a necessary part of international relations.

I think that there's a couple of words missing in the next sentence. At the moment it reads: we hold the strong conviction that nobody should support military preparations or actions. Do we not mean that nobody should be forced to support?

OK I will say, about this point, what is spoken in the little group was not unanimous. The point is that should support means we don't want anybody support military preparations. Of course, we also have the opinion that nobody should be forced to support military preparations. But in the end we decided to make this formula, and later comes the force: we want nobody to support military action. And later is the point that nobody should be forced; in the next sentence. It's quite a principal point. We have discussed very long about it.

I would like to speak about the first sentence. I just don't like the repetition of the word citizens: all citizens both as individuals and as citizens. I haven't found the solution but I want to point this out. David wants to say...yes...

For the first word citizens, how about using persons?

All persons have rights and duties, both as individuals and as citizens. Is that all right? Nobody objects?

No. I prefer to avoid the use of the term citizen because in many cases, through legal means, people are denied their citizenship. They are living outside their borders or whatever and I think that to deny them because of our official borders is something that we shouldn't support.

But in the sentence both as individuals and as citizens you have two types together: individual, these are community and the person in the community as citizen. So, I don't know how to tackle this objection. Because a person is, of course, also a person in his community and the word citizen is quite normal.

I don't want to argue...

Well, as part of the society instead of citizen.

Yeah. I'm certainly not going to block consensus on the use of the word citizen but we might say as individuals and as members of their community or their society.

That's what we mean, eh? As member of their community. Does everybody agree? As members of their community. OK Thank you. That's better.

I am not quite happy with the last part of the declaration because my final aim is not that military expenditures are only reduced, but abolished. And the other point is that we should not only then work together but we should work together from the beginning. But I have no proposal, how to put it in words because my English is not so good.

OK I think that to replace abolish everybody will agree. We all should work together instead of we can then...

Can I just make a suggestion on this point?

Yes; of course.

The first point should be, I think: and eventually abolish military expenditures. And I think it should be: we must work together with all people in building a society in which armies are not necessary. I believe that unless we work together with all people to build a society where armies are not necessary we won't be able to abolish them.

Please, repeat that because I didn't get it totally.

We must work together with all people in building a society in which armies are not necessary.

OK And the sentence before? You had a suggestion.

I have two suggestions. I don't know which people prefer. I think people probably prefer: with our final aim being to abolish military expenditures.

In a real way...

You don't need those words.

Why not?

Abolish means getting rid of military expenditures. If you abolish military expenditure, there's no military expenditure. That is what the word means. So, you don't need...

Logically you are right, I think, but psychologically not. There are a lot of ways, the military sets people on the wrong leg... on the wrong foot. Das military... How do you say that in English?

Betrays.

That's right. To avoid betrayal in a real way has some psychological meaning. But, what does everybody think about it?

That must be our final aim. I think we must not put it in the real way.

OK Nobody objects to deleting in a real way. Yeah. OK Everybody can agree with the text?

Well, we didn't trust ourselves to say abolish, but, for sure, we are for abolition. We thought we would reach an agreement if we wrote reduce instead of abolish. We are very much for abolition.

Then, the sentence will be: We ask that our conscientious right not be...

Parlo in italiano. I see it difficult that the text that I just heard from my colleague is different from the other.

The first little bit of that sentence gives me some problems. We have conscientious objections but they have not yet been established as a right. But we speak of our conscientious rights. Is it possible that we speak of we ask that our conscientious objections to the military expenditure be deviated by legal measures? They haven't been established as a right yet. And certainly, the citizens we are addressing don't experience this as a right. So, what I am suggesting is we ask that our conscientious objections to military expenditure be respected by legal measures. And then, continue the sentence. Is that acceptable? Take out a few words and specially change the right.

Now, a second point. And that is the title of the statement. I wish to draw to our attention that the word collaboration has a very negative ring about it.

We made it noncooperation.

Because collaboration, in most countries has a very negative tone, and noncooperation is more Gandhian.

There's another version.

Please, in the title, change that: non-collaboration is noncooperation with...

I'll try to make this my last comment. On that final paragraph, the word ask sounds a little timid to me. I would like to suggest, perhaps, insist. We insist that our conscientious objection... or...

Anybody against replacing ask into insist?

I prefer to keep ask because we insist is something... We are trying to ask. We are making an appeal to our fellow citizens, to our fellow people, and if we put ourselves too much on our position... is the same argument as why we changed the right to our conscientious objections. If we put ourselves too much on our position, as sort of saying, you know, from our point of view this is self-evidence. It doesn't bring the right message as such. So, in order to have a best effect, result to this declaration, I think it's best to really appeal to fellow citizenship, and you appeal more if you say we ask than if you say we insist as such.

But I'd like to finish this questions first. Because if not, they are still open ask or insist. We cannot make many points together. We have to...

I find myself closer to the idea of Susan. Being more radical. And I think that the right word, even if I don't know how it sounds in English, is demand, more than insist... We require our right. We demand, both citizens and institutions, our right to...

OK So, after that half an hour we talked about, there seems to be a general agreement on basics. Let's see if we can conclude.

I think that we can compromise because ask is too weak and insist is too strong. We could use demand which is in between and also a very strong word.

I very much agree that if we are asking something from our fellow citizens, let's not use very strong words, but why don't we say what he has said just now? We appeal to our fellow citizens and governments that our conscientious objections to military expenditures, etc.

I will still insist on the fact that you have to be aware of how language functions in a context. If you are in a position to insist, you insist. If you are not in a position to insist, you ask or you demand.

I think demand would be a good solution, too, but appeal would be fine with me too. You don't insist if you don't have possibilities to make your point through. You may be right but if you can't get it, then you just exaggerate, is that the word? Then you don't get your right even if you are right.

For a second I want to speak to the question of demand or appeal or ask or whatever. I prefer, although I am trying to think of a better word... to me, demand is at least as strong as insist in English, anyway. My suggestion would be that we appeal to our fellow citizens and governments that they respect our conscientious objections to military expenditure by legal measures.

Everybody OK?

On the same paragraph but on a slightly different point: with our final aim being to abolish military expenditures, I would put the military way of solving conflicts by force because we don't want just to get rid of military expenditures but we want to get rid of the military conflicts solving and military expenditures are just a symptom. They are needed for military conflicts solving as such. But finally, it should be broader than just limiting ourselves to military expenditures. And this would also fit very well with the next sentence. So, my proposal is to abolish the military way of solving conflicts by force.

Yeah, we did that already at the beginning. Second paragraph, second line. So, in a way, it's a repetition.

It's a repetition but I think it's right to repeat that part here.

I would say it's not necessary because we are here on the text refusal issue but I have no conscientious objections.

As we went through the phraseology of appeal to our fellow citizens and governments that they respect, it was suggested, at that point, by legal measures be inserted next. I just ask which way sounds better, rather than having it at the end ... appeal to our fellow citizens and governments that they respect, by legal measures, our conscientious objections to military expenditures. What do you think?

Perhaps, we may listen to these last two people, then try to write a final formula with all these changes, photocopy it, hand it and, even if there are always some words that not everybody likes, taking a general reading, agree about the general meaning. Then we would move to the workshops. OK?

What I want to suggest is just a very simple change getting over this difficulty of the phrase suggested, by saying: our aim being to abolish military expenditure and activity.

I think legal measures should be at the end because that is the heaviest piece of information that you get in that sentence. We ask our governments to do something for our conscientious objection.

David agrees.

Second line from the bottom. Military expenditures. I propose all military expenditures.

OK It's semantics, I think.

Then, Eric, why don't you go out to write down the final formula and all the rest can start working on the final results of the workshops. When you are through, you may print it, photocopy it... Meanwhile, let's listen to the conclusions of the workshops held along these days.

A letter for the Insumisos

David: I have spoken to Pedro about a letter to those in prison. And my thought was, if I may bring it forth, that sometime, maybe before we hear the reports, I wonder if now...

I had thought we could do it at the end, but if you wish to do it now... please.

My reason for bringing this now rather than after the reports is that I thought we might consider writing a letter to those who are in prison: technically ‘the insumisos’. Perhaps now might be the time since we are communicating to the rest of the world. I wrote this, this morning and may I convey to you some possible words to those who are in prison for conscience. This would be the letter:

To you, insumisos in Spain and those elsewhere who are imprisoned because of their conscience objections to war and the militarism:

We, participants of the Vth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Taxes Campaigns, meeting at Hondarribia, Basque Country, Spain, September 16-18 1994,

Stand with you and support you in your important witness for peace. We recognize and commend your non-violent action in refusing to take up arms, knowing as you do that there are better and non-violent ways to provide for the defence and the welfare of your homeland and your people. We acknowledge that, by the example of your lives and non-violent actions, you are teaching the present and future generations that there is a way of life which is peaceful and which will bring peace to the world.

We hope you feel that we are with you, specially at times of loneliness and difficulty. We extend to you our hands in love and friendship.

(Clapping).

I just wanted to mention that one occasion to send a letter like this would be on December the first which is when some groups that have been observing for prisoners take for Peace Day every year. There is a Peace News published every year with a list of people who are in prison at the time. So if you want to find a list of people in prison with their prison addresses to send this letter or another letter, then, I'd be glad to send the list to you once we have it. It should be about mid to end of November, for December the first.

In my opinion we could send this very letter this week to these ‘insumisos’, as one of the results of these conference, no matter what we all do for December the first, with the different lists of conscience prisoners delivered for that occasion. We ourselves could do it from Pamplona in the name of the whole International Conference.

I agree with that. Let's just do it now. I also think it should be sent to the press.

It will be.

One thought I had was to include in the title: To you insumisos in Spain and those elsewhere who are imprisoned so that the letter really could be sent at any time and does recognize the importance of this Conference now and I am not sure but I think that my handwriting is quite legible and copies could be made in handwriting but you can do as you wish.

May I suggest that you, Pedro and David, sign this letter on our behalf.

OK Let's try to print it with a computer and then those who are interested can sign under it. Whoever wishes to do so with their name and surname. We'll send these names to the imprisoned ‘insumisos’. David and I can sign first, but all those who wish to sign down will be able to do it. OK?

I would suggest also to include the Conference that we represent with our signatures.

Conclusions of each workshop

All right. Then, let's get started with the conclusions of each workshop. So, please, those people working as secretaries in each group, come up here.

Legislation and juridical cases

Number one was the workshop on Legislation and juridical cases and of course, in the usual way, after the introduction of ourselves will lead to the discussion of procedures and cases in our respective countries and environments. And some of the details of the issue, of course, for example Latin America, we have heard of in the Conference so I'll try to highlight just a few examples. In Italy, where they are having many obstacles to their progress both to war tax resistance and to steps towards legislation, they have reminded us of the support even of the church hierarchy for war tax resistance and the non-violent movement generally. The success around the Gulf War which some of us have heard of when they had ten thousand and now it is sadly declining and also, particularly the progress of the law which is nearest to success in Parliament. But they are still, in a certain sense, encouraging though of course, the present right wing government in Italy makes the military very powerful now. And in other places, for example in South America, it may be true that military service is unpopular because people are busy surviving. Bob, from Belgium, reminded us that there has been no conscription since last year and there is a working group on conscientious objection which will soon introduce a new appeal. I hope I got that right. The Spanish group in our workshop crystallised the same old apparent dichotomy perhaps between the absolutists (War tax resistance as a legal arm towards the abolition of all arms) and those advocating the legislation as a first set. We hope it is not a division between us, which we seemed to resolve last night. The Spanish group which there were a number of us in our workshop feel that war tax resistance is not so much a personal question whereas conscientious objection itself is, and as you know, their emphasis is on reduction and eventual abolition of military force and expenditure.

Eric reminded us that you don't pay the tax, so it's a personal question and in most countries, including Great Britain, the government refuses to allow the ordinary citizen to decide personally in which direction their taxes go. The exception here was Germany during the Gulf War when there was a specific military tax which could be refused. Eric told us, finally, of the means of appeal in tax cases up to the European courts (Strasbourg) and beyond that to the International Commission on Human Rights and how easy it is to use these means of appeal.

I must correct you because the taxes for the Gulf War in Germany weren't declared as taxes for that, but were declared a solidarity contribution in order to support East Germany. But if the Gulf War hadn't been there wouldn't have been that expenditure.

I guess it will just be a linguistic problem and what we want to say in one language doesn't mean exactly the same in another. But I would ask not to be called an absolutist because I see military expenditure as a political problem. In Castellano it sounds quite pejorative. I am not an absolutist. Maybe the person who calls me that is an absolutist.

Pedro- I must say that the English word for ‘Insumisión’ is ‘Total resistance’ and there is always a problem of immediate translation. I don't think that when Arthur or anybody else referred to the Spanish objectors as ‘absolutists’ he was thinking of Louis XVI or anything like that.

It was hand written and in my notes it's got inverted commas. It's just a way of thinking about it. That's all.

Perhaps to loose...

Just to say that absolutist does not certainly mean dogmatic. In our country we say total objectors. And maybe we can use that word, because it confuses us if we use this word absolutist. It confuses us absolutely, I'd say!

Thanks, Arthur. Please now, the person in charge of the second workshop:

What's Conscience

I am reporting on the workshop number 2. The question was: What is Conscience? The workshop was facilitated by Gerald, from the UK

The workshop began with the discussion of our personal perceptions of the word conscience. Each of us became aware of the power of our consciences in various life experiences. We indicated that we have been influenced, sometimes, by religious conditioning in our early life and by the society values in which we lived. We went on to discuss that each experience of the condition of conscience pressured on us and made us aware that there are higher values than those held as the norm on our individual societies. We went on to discuss that each experience of conscience is so imperative that it cannot be ignored. We agreed with each other that when we act on the leading of our consciences we reach a higher level in our own development. And ultimately, as more and more people act according to their conscience it follows that the society raises its values which we observe as an evolution of Human Rights. The goal of the War Tax Resistance Movement, we agreed, is to make the absence of war the norm in each society. And it was with that conclusion that we ended the workshop.

Thank you. I'd like just to object to one word. That's the word conditioning. That sounds very behaviouristic and deterministic, to me. Religious conditioning; I would not accept that for me. Personally I would say, perhaps education because for me it has been a liberating experience and not a deterministic experience.

Yes, I think we agreed, Gerald, that each one of us had such a different childhood in terms of religious or non-religious upbringings that whichever way you looked at it was as conditioning as all social experiences are as we grow up. So it was not intended to be a dogmatic experience but simply one showing our differences. I really think it's a experience, more than instruction. Experience, yes, OK? Take out conditioning and put in experience. Up-bringing is what Gerald suggests. Up-bringing implies, to me, parental disciplines, rather than societal ones. Experience, I think establishes it clearly for me. Agree? However, I think the important thing for all of us is to understand that in our movement we are shaping and driving the evolution of higher values and making great changes in societies everywhere. This is how all Human Rights have been reached in the history of mankind. Reached and established and made the norm.

Workshop number 3, please.

What's on in different countries

Thank you. This workshop was very much about exchanging information and ideas and I haven't done formal words. So, there is nothing for you to... at this stage. I will prepare a full report from my notes, which will be available. I found it very encouraging to hear about campaigns in different countries that were very different. They all used very different approaches. Conscience and Peace Tax Campaign in the United Kingdom has had a few more tax resistors, but a lot of people who support our suggested idea of legislation to enable conscientious objectors to redirect the military part of their expenditure to peace building purposes. We have about two thousand members.

Tulle, from Norway, explained that there's not yet a Peace Tax campaign in Norway but that the Quakers have been lobbying in Norwegian Parliament on these issues and she herself edits a magazine about peace and environmental issues and who is doing what and networking between many organisations.

Pedro told us about the Taxes discount campaign in Pamplona, which is similar in other parts of Spain where resisters choose to withhold an amount, usually about 5.000 pesetas which goes to an alternative project and that they found that when they use this system rather than asking people to withhold a percentage of their tax, they got more supporters because it was easier for people to put aside a specific sum each year and this is not something that is going to be won quickly. It's a long distance race, not a sprint and therefore people need to be encouraged to go at a pace they can manage.

Klaus talked about the network of peace taxes groups in Germany and the publicity they are getting through people going to Court, trying to get the money back from the revenue service. But there's now much less action in the Court and many fewer tax refusers.

Susan explained the work of the National War Tax Resisters co-ordinating committee in the States and of her local group in her area and how they work together and how much... what an enormous amount of federal tax goes on military expenditure (directly or indirectly). It's about half the federal tax. 50%. And their many different forms of resistance. Some people stay below the taxable income level, others withhold a symbolic amount. Some withhold everything, some simply refuse to cooperate with the tax system by refusing to provide information. And she told us about the case of a man called Bill Ramsey who was actually arrested for leafleting on tax rather than for refusing to provide information about his taxes. And he was actually sent to prison for a month. But he organised the local publicity and this year, although he still hasn't provided the information, they are not taking him to Court.

Koen put us up to date about the situation in Belgium, about the backers going to Court in November. The Flemish campaign is promoting a peace tax bill and how some political support, some people withhold some amount and they support various projects.

There was quite a lot of general discussion about the differences between the different campaigns and how some manage to get a lot of people involved and others, a very small. And we are very aware that different things work in different countries because of the differences in the tax system and in the cultural climate.

One interesting point which came out was from Elias who was talking about how important support from the community, from the people around one is. Whether one is going to prison or whether one is simply trying to resist one's taxes, and I feel that this is something that we should perhaps think about. Whether if we provide more encouragement (encouragement more than support) to people who want to become tax resisters, whether more will become involved and whether that will help us build our campaigns.

And B... talked about the need for factual information to persuade people that this is an important issue, that an enormous amount of our money is being spit on weapons and how this relates to the money that is being spent on other things. And it was suggested that we need to collect and send, distribute this information because it's useful to have the comparisons between different countries.

There was the suggestion that perhaps someone has already done this but if not we feel very useful for it to be done, to pull together information on military budgets, on how much different weapons systems cost, on how this relates to the things that the country really needs like schools and hospitals for each country, and circulate it amongst us. But we are very aware that there are practical difficulties in collecting the information, in making sure it is accurate and in keeping it up to date.

I thing I've said quite a lot. I will write a full report for the conference's papers.

Any suggestions?

Just one very quick correction because I think it has significance as a governmental tactic against us. The case of Bill Ramsey in the United States. He was indeed arrested for leafleting on tax day but the significance of his case is that part of his sentence, part of his probatory sentence was that he was ordered by the judge to file and pay all taxes. So the judge was raising a separate issue in a sense, in the trial and that's true that filing and paying that really Bill has been resisting.

Perhaps it can be said also that in the last year one German network got a peace prize that is an alternative prize done every year, one half for an international group or person and one half for a national German group. We got it last year and Kristen made the thanks giving speech from our group. The other, the international part was given to Aristide, this priest from Haiti who was elected as President and who was thrown out and now is waiting to be President, real President in Haiti. (Clapping).

Fourth workshop, please:

UN's Peace Keeping Operations

OK I'm here to report on the workshop number 4. I'm extremely bad on names so I won't bring any. We had a very differentiated discussion, small differences that seemed important to us, and so we only got unanimity on two points: first one is that we can't accept any kind of military intervention, be it peace keeping or be it peace enforcing. The second point is that instead of that we want the foundation of a non-violent force and this brings us to the third: the result of this group, but we haven't resolved the question whether it should be a non-government organisation, whether it should be a UN organisation, or an organisation of the national governments and whether the intervention of this force, or these forces should be exterior or interior. At one point we stopped the discussion to bring together this as the result, so we'll make a long paper with all the arguments but I think this is the essential of the discussion.

Not any comments? No. Workshop number 5:

Lobbying for a Peace Tax Legislation

I'm reporting on workshop number 5, entitled Lobbying for peace tax legislation. We heard about legislative reports from Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and the US and then, later in the day I requested and received reports from Canada Italy and the UK Here is what we learnt: In Germany, reported by Klaus, the Peace Tax Campaign has been introduced to three sessions in the Bundestag (the Parliament). There will be elections for the Bundestag next month and the German peace workers are trying to introduce their bill again in this Parliament. There was an increased amount of effort in regard of legislation and peace work generally for the Gulf War and this has now declined somewhat. One act of peace work that we should notice as something special we have been hearing about is that there's some one hundred members of Parliament in regard to their legislative effort. The members of Parliament in Germany keep an open office, I think once a week, for example on Friday morning, when anyone in the public come in and speak with them and one of the efforts that the peace campaign has made has been to develop a pamphlet about how to lobby if you are a member of Parliament in regard of the peace tax legislation. Certainly, that idea of developing a pamphlet or guides for your own nation seems to be a big help.

The letter writing campaign: in one area some four hundred people wrote letters to various members of the Parliament, particularly in the two most promising parties.

K.. from Belgium spoke to us and said that in Belgium they had the same Parliament as was in power in Brussels two years ago. So, as I have understand there hasn't been big changes in legislation in that Parliament. There will be elections in 1995. The last time the bill was introduced by members of the Green party and it's hoped that in the next Parliament it will be able to have an introduction by at least two parties: perhaps the Greens and the Socialists.

The peace tax movement there in Belgium has a growing number. They have been trying to find a staff member and there's been some difficulties. There's a little bit of fund. There are a number of people who have free time, but finding somebody who is knowledgeable and committed to these issues that we are here for, and who is willing to commit time and so..., I guess if any of you know anybody who is in the neighbourhood of Belgium who might want some work, then get in touch with the Belgian folks... Somebody who is knowledgeable, committed, hard-working and so forth...

In regard to Netherlands, K... reported that the BWD. office has moved. Hans who was there until fairly recently, I believe, has moved to other work and Trix Van Vougt as we heard, is there now. We all send him our greetings and best wishes, I'm sure. (Clapping).

One of the projects from the BWD was to prepare a kind of do-it-yourself tax form in which each citizen could figure out his or her own... the amount of money that they were spending for military taxes, and that's a helpful way to sensitise people on how much of your money does go for military taxes. They are going to do that again next year and I hope they come closer to tax day, April first, (it was mentioned that it was April's fools' day) but apparently it is so in Netherlands also.

K... mentioned that WILPF has been particularly active being in touch with Women in Black, the group in Croatia, and a translated form of the Netherlands' bill, translated into Croatian, I believe, has been sent to the Women in Black group.

An important event was when K... had the opportunity to speak in person with the Prime Minister of the Government in the Netherlands. Unfortunately in May 1993 that party, as I understand, went out of power (so there was a change in Government) but still that must have been an important meeting that K... had.

I'd like to say that Lina from Spain, while she was speaking on their resistance campaign, she was with our group and I want to take note of her report to us about the Total Conscientious Objection, of those who are in prison and on the efforts of those in the peace movement going to schools and telling about resistance to militarism, consciences objection, a few points about tax resistance, they would often go repeatedly to schools and they reached a receptive audience. And this is certainly an important educational effort to be taken note of.

Marian reported about the United States, where peace tax legislation was first introduced in 1972. At the present time there are 37 sponsors in the House of Representatives and 3 in the Senate which is not a huge number but it's a number there. But there's another larger group of supporters who are silent supporters. Marian, following the important hearing that we had, that you heard about it, in Brussels two years ago, following that, Marian went and talked with all the members of the House and Senate Finance Committee, which is a large number of people and other members also, and Marian reported to us that there are many in the House and Senate who are silent supporters. That is, they will not kill the bill as it comes out for a vote or as the expression goes, they may take a walk when the vote comes up. They'll be somewhere else so they won't have to go in front of their constituency having voted against it, but Marian has found out, and it's hard to find out, that many members stand on this, and she does report that there is a lot of silent support and for anybody doing legislative work in any nation, it will be important to find out not only who is sponsoring, who signs under the bill but who is there and who will not oppose it. There seems to be a reasonable hope of getting a hearing in the Senate, both in the Judiciary Committee and the Finance Committee. There's a program to generate 100,000 letters from constituents around the country so that people understand, and the House of Representatives will know and feel the support there is for this legislation.

There is an interesting development as a result of the major attendance that we are trying to make in regard to health care legislation. You are probably aware, those of you who are here who have the good fortune of having universal coverage and so forth, that the United States has a lot of improvement that we could do. Anyway, we've been working hard to try to have changes. And in the course of that, a good deal of attention has been paid to, we hope, improve women's reproductive health, and in regard of that, the issue of abortion has come up. You'll be well aware that there are some very strong feelings, very conscientious feelings in regard to people who are opposed to abortion, and that group of people have become sensitised to have strong or conscientious feelings to killing and war. So it has been possible to create some linkages to quite a large group of people who have that opposition and who move ahead with the idea of conscientious objection to killing. There is an important Supreme Court decision that occurred several years ago in our country, that very badly damaged the principle of religious freedom. That case then was pursued by an important legislator decision in Congress. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act...

(Change of tape)

Thank you. Marian reported that there had been some major changes in the bill about a year ago. One of those was to point out that the bill will actually generate some revenue. We had an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office who pointed out that it would actually do that and that's been good news and there's been working in the bill now that will indicate that one of the purposes of the Bill is to increase revenue and that's always good news for congress people. Another step was to discontinue or do away with the Board of trustees and seven rather general purposes for which the money might be used to state instead that moneys will be used for four specified name Peace Related parts the Government. It's a complex issue, it has to do with the shifting of funds but one way I believe of thinking about it is that not with my dollars, you don't do that even though there's somebody else's dollars to do it. It's a complex issue but that was a change we felt important to make.

We feel that with the changes in the bill it's still very important to note the advantages of the bill. If it passes it would be for the first time. We would see which nation does it first, but which ever nation gets legislation established it will for the first time establish the legal right of conscientious objection to the payment of military taxes or taxes allocated for military purposes. Further more, in our country as the bill was designed, it would have a major education effort because the bill directs that on the tax forms that go out to some 160 million people will tell about this choice that every citizen tax payer has and will encourage them to think about that and that is a major development if that happens. And thirdly, it will serve as a referendum to the whole public and to the members of Congress of how people in the country feel. So that if the bill is constructed would do those things.

Reporting now on Canada, the legal case of Dr. Gerald and Prior Vs Canada after their Supreme Court denied Dr. Prior a hearing in 1992. She then presented her case along with her council to the UN Humans Right Commission who denied her hearing saying it's a tax case and therefore not a Human Rights case, they say, and I guess some of us would raise that question but that's where it stands. Joy noticed maybe Dr. Prior's chances would be better now in the UN Human Rights Commission, because the UN has now included conscientious objections to the Humans Rights' agenda and that's a major step forward. Dr. Michael Petrini of Ontario Canada has his tax case -this is a question not legislated but judicial- before the first level of jurisdiction, the Tax Court, and he is waiting for a notice of trial. The Canadian Peace Tax Bill has been rewritten by Conscience Canada in collaboration with the member of Parliament Svend Robinson, the NDP party, and he has tabled it -I think that means submitted- into the House of Commons. It will wait there until it's elected by a lottery process and then it will move ahead for debate before it's accepted or rejected. If accepted it will follow normal procedure through the two houses of Parliament as does every bill. The new Canadian Bill has raised the concept of asking for a separate peace tax fund and instead it asks that the government use the money which has been redirected from the defence budget in any or all of the projects which can fit into the category that we in Canada are calling live affirming, just to list several of those: affordable housing projects, international concern of humanitarian nature, government sponsored organizations to promote peace and security,... The Canadian group is raising the question whether some of the money for peace keeping and security might better flow through non governmental organizations and that's where that stands.

Monica Frish has brought to my attention and any of you who have this can summarise it but I just hope to be brief and conveying the news about the introduction of the UK peace Tax Bill in their Parliament on Wednesday, January 1994 who Neil Garret of the Labour Party introduced Peace Tax legislation on the house of Commons also sponsored by two from the ... - it must be a Welsh party, I believe- and nine members from the labour party the Peace Tax Campaign has been mobilising support along with the Quaker Peace Section sending out hundreds of information packages to encourage lobbying around that bill and the early day motion. Sounds like early rising in London but there's a standard technical term I take it. The early day motion is a parliamentary petition number 0304, more action is needed, they want more signatories but it is a way of expressing the publics view and there are efforts in that regard. What happens next is to keep pressure on the MPs asking them to sign the early day motion so forth and there was a good response from the media in regard to the introduction of the bill.

Finally comments from Italy by Alberto L'Abate from Florence. I may not have it quietly correctly and if I get it entirely wrong I hope that Alberto will speak but there was a new law that was passed by the majority of their Parliament, some seventy percent, which would take recognition of contentious objection to military taxation. Then in regards to some tax resistance funds from Italian tax resisters of whom there are many, those tax resisters funds enabled to create a school which would promote peace education and I hope you'll have a chance to speak with Alberto more about that. There is another new project in Parliament. The following is judicial but I will mention it. There have been seventeen trials for war tax resisters. All those have been decided affirmatively in favour of those people who have been on trial. It was a complex trial process but all of them were acquitted. Very important to note that a decision at the constitutional level was made in the Supreme Court that it was possible, I think we heard about this in Aosta, but I repeat it because it's important, that it is possible in Italy to defend the nation without weapons. The final point from Italy is that there has been a penalty if you are conscientious objector doing alternative services, it was twice as long as a result of efforts made it was made equal and currently, the regular draft is down to six months and efforts are on their way to be sure the alternative service will also be six months.

Thanks David so we must go on, please the speaker from the workshop number six:

War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax as a Human Right

I must apologize, I didn't know I was supposed to present something now, I thought I was taking notes for the conference papers, so I'll try to hide my lack of preparation by being very short and also by saying that a lot of what we talked about was also talked about yesterday night in the debate so it's probably not worth going all over it again, but ..

We started the workshop having a few people reporting on the previous workshop and two points that came up were that conscience is something that can evolve over a person's life and also somebody mentioned that maybe conscience was a composite thing that there is a natural element and a cultural element that maybe the natural element was the same for everybody, every body has some conscience of some sort, but that the cultural one was the one that makes the difference between different people and different countries.

We talked a little bit about humans rights that are not only rights but that also should be a responsibility and in that case it would probably be useful to think of a human right as something that is not only individual but it's also collective, because it could be dangerous to say “I decide not to pay for war but I don't mind if the person next to me pays for war”.

Then we mentioned that Human Right would have to be not only for our generation but for future ones.

We also had the usual discussion about whether we should go first a narrow interpretation of a Human Right or a wider one. That went on for quite some time and there where a lot of arguments put forward. There were several people in our group thought for pragmatic purposes. It would be useful to really know what we are talking about when we are presenting something to our parliaments and maybe we should go for what's more easy to obtain and also that it would be important to increase the impact of the War Tax Resistance Campaigns to be able to influence Parliament and other legislative bodies. So it was very important to get more people involved, but at the same time we also recognised that there was a need for some sort of a broader issue about human rights.

We also had a discussion whether this human right should be discussed in the UN context or national or both. Again there was pretty much an agreement that both ways would be useful but that different approaches should be pursued according to whether is the UN or the National Bodies and maybe discussion at the UN level would have one advantage that is to bring in people from other countries and from non-western countries, so that people from the western world don't always push for their own interpretation of what a human right is, but that also appeals to non-western and non-Christian people, placing a lot of emphasis on community value rather than our own way only, to put more emphasis on individualistic values.

So this is a really short summary and I probably forgot a lot o things.

Thanks, Workshop number seven:

Facing the risks of War Tax Resistance

Like many of the other workshops number seven which was on taking the risks of war tax resistance, was primarily based in relating our own experiences our own course on war tax resistance, the risks that we had taken in following that process. I think what came out of that discussion was that some of us, the initial step that we took felt very risky for some of us and it was quite difficult to take it. For others we eased in to it and things seemed very safe at first and become more and more challenging or frightening.

There were a couple of different ways in which we approached the topic of risk once we had each given our own experiences. One of the things that we discussed was the fact that when other people are putting themselves in a situation of risk, be it facing a large financial burden, perhaps the seizure of a home or perhaps imprisonment, this is time that really focuses the attention on the issues that we are trying to raise, the antimilitarist agenda, so number one it's a very important thing in terms of inspiring other people to action and is also very important that any risk taken within our movement is supported as effectively as possible so people don't suffer for taking those risks and this is not to say there won't be any suffering but that it be supported as well as we can do so. One of the things that we ended with was trying to figure out how could we support each other across national boundaries when people are in the spotlight for taking a risk and of course from one country to another this will take a different form, cases it might be a trial and in another case it might be a house seizure, and we'd like to suggest one way out of this conference of supporting each other across national boundaries.

When we were talking about it in the workshop we had hoped that perhaps the international body that was established last night would be a good mechanism for that. It seems it's going to be specifically oriented towards the legal procedure so we thought it may not be to difficult to set an alternative to that which would be if each country could volunteer one information hub for that country then whenever in any particular country something came up where international support was required that information could be sent to that spokesperson and then relayed to one person in each other country where there is war tax resistance or even general antimilitarist movement and that the spokes person would be responsible to get out that information the best they could to anyone willing to give support moral or economic or any other form.

So we wanted to make that proposal here today to see whether it might be impossible to name the people today because it may be whose not out of the conference to fill that function but at least with in the next week or to as we go back to our homes. If we could decide in each country who would best serve that function and Pedro has agreed to make up an international list of contact people that would go out with the minutes of this conference so in the next couple of weeks we could each send address phone fax if possible for a central contact person for each country and be aware that that would be a possibility if cases come up that we get the information out and that we do our best to mobilise response for those critical moments of risk taking.

Maybe the best way of doing this is telling Susan at the end of the meeting who could be the ones Susan hands it over to us and with the briefs we print the names address and phone number of those persons.

OK. I guess the only question would be if there is anybody who objects to the idea of forming such a list and if not we will proceed outside of this. I just want to make sure that the information of this Risk Response Team would be for urgent action not newsletters, but specific happenings.

I think it's very important to distinguish this team from the NGO we created last night. It would also be important to use e-mail to do this effectively and quickly. I would prefer the name International Support Group (It is accepted)

We prepared our files with a field for e-mail, but only one group has filled it so... Thank you. Workshop number eight, please.

War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns: A direct effort to reduce military spending.

The subject was Taxes for Peace or War Tax Resistance Campaigns. The subject was the relation between Tax Peace Campaigns and War Tax Resistance Campaigns and other pacifist actions of civil disobedience.

The discussion was centred on Tax Peace Campaigns with a strong critic to the fact that they leave military budgets without any change and give false hope. Through the criticism came a more clear picture of what a campaign should really be, not forgetting its educational side....

A small accident

(In this part of the transcription we had a small accident with the computer and we lost, we really don't know why, several pages. It continues with the end of the report of workshop number eleven. We hope the writing reports that appear in these proceedings will supply this lack) ... Workshop 11

Increasing the number of war tax resisters and peace tax funds supporters

.............Another idea was to search for the existing paths in the present legal system to achieve our purpose. One point that was felt important was the use of new methods for the development of our campaigns, that is to promote, develop, insist on the activities we do in our campaigns. Among the different ideas we shuffled were to define a precise objective when talking to the people. It's also important to design the messages according to each population sector. We must also spread the information about the actual military expenses to be known at street level. A way to reach the people would be to use the key persons among the communities to give out the information. It's also important to contact other groups like religious, ecological, with certain degree of sympathy towards us. In the campaign we saw that if the use of the Peace Tax Fund was for near by projects the population would be more supported.

Then we talked that if the individual amount for Peace Tax Fund was less this has helped in certain countries to increase its number. I would also be important to push forward the non violent defence and civil disobedience. Finally we should try keeping our identity as a group in the street.

Thank you. Now it's time for Workshop number 12 .

War Tax Resistance: A privilege for Industrialised Nations?

We had representatives of eight countries. I don't know if any where from the so called non industrialised or under developed countries, but we had a very lively discussion and exchange of information. I command you to read the notes. We won't go in to that. We basically have five proposals or recommendations that I'll go over.

Number one is about the ‘Fifty years is enough’ campaign, The Others Voices of the Planet that will be held in September in Madrid in regards of the financial institutions that give the rich countries their wealth, the World Bank, the GATT, the IMF.

Number two was about different kinds of taxes, sales taxes. In our industrial countries we have income taxes but there are other ways in which we support militarism. We are going to do a collection of that information, and we'll be handing around paper on that, for example in the US state taxes are going to support the growth industry of the 21st century which is prisons.

Number three is about the conference... It's clear that in this five conferences 95% of the representation has been the industrialised and so called developed countries, so one of the proposals is to be making efforts to have other people represented at the conference. One way is that each countries thinks about their countries close to them.

Number four is the invitation in four years to be the conference in a developing country.

Number five is supporting the non proliferation treaty that will be discussed in the UN in April 95.

So if I just can go back to Number one I will just read this if I may...

(Reading of the document written for supporting the Madrid Conference that you can find in its report)

(Comments on semantics and linguistics and meanings...)

What we would like you to do is to send information to us (Steve) on three points. One is are there indirect taxes, sales taxes, VAT in your country? Are there such taxes that can be identified as being used in any way going to any found whatever related with military use? And, finally, if you have histories of resistance to these taxes.

Another recommendation was about invite other countries to the next Conference. The German groups will use their funds to bring someone from Eastern Europe, Canadian people will try getting in contact with the Pacific area,... But we have to be careful that who comes to the Conference will have time enough. About the Conference in four years... the specific language was we strongly recommend the conference four years from now be held in a non-industrialised country, possibly Palestine, Asia, Africa... Preferably in a country with a war tax movement. We welcome invitations we're open to invitations, but of course the decision will be made two years from now.

So the last point is paper on the non proliferation extension review conference that's going to be held at the UN in April of 1995. I'm just going to hand this out. We had not time to discuss it in the Workshop, but it is very deeply involved on North-South issue. It's important to have notice about it.

I just wanted to add a little bit to one of those points of this workshop and that is the networking arrangement with countries in the other parts of the world that are not presently represented in this conference. The suggestions given show there was involuntarily made at that workshop in some countries suggesting that it would find it easy to network with other war tax resisters. We from Canada will research peace organisations in the Pacific rim (China, Korea,...)

Since part of this contacts involve inviting people for the next conference, I think that it would be good to send letter to the British Peace Tax Movement so they have the addresses. There were several addresses on the proceedings of Brussels' Conference that we can kept in mind.

In the proceedings of Brussels' Conference there are many reports about the situation in different countries. If some country hasn't do it, it would be nice if it does it, because the details about what's happening in different countries are very important for all of us. So we asked to every country to write and to send it to Pamplona-Iruñea so it will be possible including it in the proceedings of this Conference.

Everything we receive before the end on November will be included in the proceedings. We will try to finish the edition of the proceedings before the end of the year (Note: What a joke! I'm finishing the revision of this part, the very last one of the proceedings, in May 5)

It will be nice, but looking at the future it's better to do it in advance to any conference. Will it be possible for the next one? That's what we decided in Brussels.

The Steering Committee

Now I request Dirk to give us information about the steering committee. Please, I think I can't do it as well as you.

Well I didn't even bring my notes but there are some items. The first thing is the place of the next conference. There were two invitations one from Britain and one from India. The one form Britain has been written down, it was in the preparatory documents of this conference, the other one was an oral invitation made to Pedro by Arya. We propose that we accept the invitation from the British Campaign and we ask you if you agree.

Just to extend a little on this it was touched on the reports just now as well. One of the criterions we used when we made this recommendations and the recommendation to go to Britain is the following: We are a Peace Tax and War Tax Resistance Movement quite specifically and each time an International Conference has been organised it is in a country where there is a well locally rooted war tax resistance campaign. The country that offers the invitation is not only to host but also to organise it and prepare it as the Spanish group has done, as the Flemish group has done, as the Italians have done so we said from that perspective, so that is why I'd earlier agree to go to Palestine in four years than to India. There is no specific war tax movement.

We are not going to repeat here the whole discussion we had in Brussels. We looked it in the Steering Committee and now we are asking whether you agree that next conference will be held in London or not. Any opposition? Everybody agrees.

The Conference agrees, so the Sixth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns will be hosted by the British Peace Tax Campaign .

I would like to say that in India there was some years ago a big resistance movement against military places for experiment missiles and an important part of it was a tax resistance movement, but at this moment there is not such there an organization with this specific purpose, but in Palestine there is. So my option is to go in four years to Palestine.

Excuse me, but I think we are going forward too quickly. Elias was going to make an offer in few moments but we have already talked about it. So I think I should give the word to Elias:

I would like to say I agree with what have been said here and to convey a proposal from Palestine to host and organise the VIIth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns

That's great, so in 1996 we will have a proposal to think about it. Continuing with the report about the Steering Committee, second item was our international projects. We heard a short report about the Sri Lanka project, we contributed a fair amount of money, almost 20.000$ which is more or less the same we contributed to the Innuit project. Only six movements contributed.

Now some people came up with a new proposal for the next year but we only have four or five. There was one from Liberia, which we dismissed early in the discussion. It was a completely new project and we had the impression that it would need more people as well. Then there was the former Yugoslavia. There were two proposals which coincided partly one from Yolanda, related with the movement Women in Black, and other from Joy, who has recently been there. And three a proposal from War Resisters International to create a joined consistency fund. Very often there is an emergency somewhere and then everybody calls War Resisters International to do something that would mean that of the three paid staff members one full time and two part time persons one has to drop everything his doing and go into that situation and study it and propose a campaign, and propose actions,... Of course that is very detrimental for the work of WRI because all the on going work has to be dropped, so the proposal is to have a fund so that on an emergency basis somebody can be hired to whatever is necessary, go to the place, study the place, take contacts, propose campaigns, organise the actions. This is a joint initiative between WRI, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and Peace Brigades International.

I must convey to you the uneasiness to choose, many people felt that women in black deserved that support, and at he same time the others. There was a slight majority which inclined to this WRI's proposal. Now is up to you if we accept this one. Of course, if accepted the organisation will be very easy because WRI itself would take the care of the money. Of course their would be bank accounts for the other projects.

Does the meeting agree on WRI, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and Peace Brigades International and to request to receive where to send the money?

Yes, it does, so the next international project will be the Joint Contingency Fund proposed by War Resisters' International, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and Peace Brigades International. When should we sent the money collected? Next year before December 10? OK.

The adoption of the Declaration of Hondarribia

Thanks, Dirk. To finish we have left the declaration on Conscientious Objections and Peace Tax Funds as a Human Right. Erik and Yolanda have been trying to put all the ideas collected before in a new final version. I ask the Assembly to read the document and understand that is not possible to fulfil each individuals point of view. The question is that if it can be accepted in its globality by this Conference. Read it carefully, please...(Reading of the document...)

Just about English. In the third paragraph the ‘a’ should be put there. And in the last sentence...(comments on grammar...)

Does the Conference agree with the document with these last corrections? (Yes, it does)

So we adopt this Declaration of Hondarribia in the next terms:

DECLARATION

made by the participants in the 5th International Conference of Peace Tax Campaigners and War Tax Resisters, at Hondarribia, Basque Country, Spain, 16-18 September 1994, concerning

THE RIGHT OF NON COOPERATION WITH MILITARY EXPENDITURE

All persons have rights and duties, both as individuals and as members of their community, and they also have the responsibility to hold those rights and duties in balance.

No person should be forced to violate a deeply-held conviction of conscience. Our concern is to contribute to the peaceful solution of conflicts; one aspect of this is our compelling concern for recognition of the right not to be involved, actively or passively, in the killing of our fellow human beings.

Most citizens are educated to believe that military measures are a necessary part of international relations. But we hold the strong conviction that nobody should support military preparations or actions, either by personal service, by contribution through taxation or by any other means We also hold it to be a violation of conscience that anybody should be forced into giving such support.

We appeal to our fellow citizens and governments to take legal measures to respect our conscientious objections to military expenditure. Our final aim is to abolish all military expenditure and activity. We must work together with all people in building a society in which armies are not existing any more and in which all human rights are respected.

Hondarribia, September 18, 1994.

Final words

And with this last act we have arrived to the final point of the Conference. Before finishing we would like to make a public acknowledgement of the work done by Donatella, José and Konrad. Without them the Conference would not have been possible. (Ovation)

May be this is a good moment for beautiful words, a good moment to say a lot of things and feelings about these days we have spent together, about these two years and about the future, about the work we have to do in the future. We can be, we are very happy by the work we have done here in Hondarribia all together. The real result of this work will be seen in the next years. We are sure that Conscience and Peace Tax International, the Declaration concerning the Right of Non Cooperation with Military Expenditure and all the different ideas we have got here will be useful tools in developing our work. This should be a good moment for beautiful words, but we are not strong enough to do it, so let's go.

Go ahead, still working: it's necessary to work hard against militarism.

And you know: we will meet again in the United Kingdom in two years time.

Thanks, eskerrik asko.

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