Prisoners for Peace Day Date in the current year: December 1, 2024

Prisoners for Peace Day Prisoners for Peace Day is observed internationally on December 1. This annual campaign was launched by War Resisters’ International (WRI), a global anti-militarist and pacifist network founded in 1921 and consisting of more than 90 affiliated organizations in 40 countries.

The history of wars is as old as human history. Even today, in our supposedly civilized world, hundreds of thousands of people die in wars every year. Who could have thought, for example, that one European country could invade another in the 21st century? Yet Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Of course, there have always been people who refused to fight in wars. People who claim their right to refuse to serve in the military on the ground of religion, conscience, or freedom of thought are called conscientious objectors. The first conscientious objector that we know of was Maximilianus (canonized as Saint Maximilian of Tebessa), who refused to enlist in the Roman army on the grounds of being a Christian and was beheaded for it.

In addition to individual conscientious objectors, there are entire anti-war movements that have existed since at least the American Revolutionary War. The main difference between peace movements and anti-war movements, according to some activists, is that peace movements are often linked to the goal of achieving world peace, whereas anti-war movements usually strive to put an end to or prevent a particular conflict or war. Anti-war movements have occurred in response to every major war in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Many conscientious objectors and anti-war activists have faced imprisonment or other penalties for refusing to serve in the military or campaigning against wars. Around the globe in countries like Eritrea, Israel, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the United States, and others people are imprisoned simply because they want to break the cycle of violence and refuse to kill others.

In 1921, a group of conscientious objectors and anti-war activists who had been involved in the resistance to World War I founded War Resisters’ International in Bilthoven, Netherlands. Ten years later, the organization adopted the broken rifle as its symbol. WRI links together anti-war organizations, groups and individuals from different parts of the world. From its headquarters in London, it runs three major programs: Countering the Militarization of Youth, the Nonviolence Program, and The Right to Refuse to Kill. WRI also coordinates Prisoners for Peace Day.

Prisoners for Peace Day has been observed every December 1 for more than six decades. Its main goals are to show solidarity with imprisoned conscientious objectors around the globe and to highlight the stories of anti-war activists who were imprisoned for taking non-violent actions to disrupt preparation to war.

How can you observe Prisoners for Peace Day? There are many ways. You can check out WRI’s list of prisoners for peace and write letters or send cards to some of them to show your support, donate to WRI or another organization that supports anti-war movements, and, of course, spread the word on social media with the hashtags #PrisonersForPeaceDay and #PfPDay to raise awareness of the campaign.

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Prisoners for Peace Day, international observances, War Resisters’ International, conscientious objector, anti-war movement