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CO Sahar Vardi, 18, has been sentenced today (25 Aug 2008)

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Published on Aug 25, 2008

Sahar is the third conscientious objector, and the first woman, to be imprisoned among a new group of high school seniors, who signed a collective declaration of refusal to serve in the Israeli army of occupation, and in the work of organising which she has been very strongly involved.
While she stresses the importance of resisting the occupation of Palestine as a motive for her refusal, Sahar's conscientious objection is also rooted in a wider pacifist position. In a letter to the Minister of Defence, declaring her refusal to serve in the military, She wrote:
I have been to the occupied Palestinian territory many times, and even though I realize that the soldier at the checkpoint is not responsible for the wretched policy of the oppressor towards civilians, I am unable to relieve that soldier of responsibility for his conduct ... I mean the human responsibility of not causing another human being to suffer.
The bloody times in which I live (consisting of assassinations, aggression, bombings, shootings) results in increasing numbers of victims on both sides. It is a vicious circle that emanates from the fact that both sides elect to engage in violence. This choice I refuse to take part in.
A demonstration was organised to join Sahar before she goes into the Induction Base to refuse enlistment (see image on the right). About 80 people came, in a not very late hour of the morning. Media coverage was also significant. A small counter-demonstration organised by a pro-military group confronted us (quite violently - head-butting one of the demonstrators on our side in the fact, driving a motorcycle into the crowd and nearly running over an elderly demonstrator). But all in all, Sahar went there in high spirits.
Sahar decided to refuse to wear a military uniform in prison, and has put in the Isolation Ward of the prison. The Isolation Wards of military prisons in Israel are often the cite of various minor or less minor forms of abuse, so Sahar will need a lot of support. She is due to be released from prison on 31 Aug. but is likely to be imprisoned again soon afterwards.

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