|TAXES FOR PEACE NOT WAR!
||We are SEVEN UK CITIZENS who are going to the EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS to claim the right for CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS to have the MILITARY part of their TAXES diverted to a PEACE FUND
|We think this is important because:
Governments should respect the consciences of their citizens, particularly in the matter of deliberately taking human lives.
||Society develops morally when governments take heed of public conscience, ie. abolition of capital punishment, release from military service on conscientious grounds, abolition of slavery.
||A Peace Fund would instal a measuring scale of the public’s conscience which government ought to find useful.
||Such a fund would put a moral pressure on government to try harder to find other ways of resolving conflict than using violence.
||Now more than ever, it is important to bring this moral argument into wider debate.
|Read more about our campaign - click here
< Explore our resources on peace tax and our case
|Our heart felt thanks to all those who have sent donations, but requested no acknowledgement. You are a great support to our campaign.
A SUCCESSFUL CONFERENCE
12th International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns
Friday 5th to Sunday 7th September, 2008 - University of Manchester, Fallowfield Campus
Delegates were warmly welcomed by Conscience in very pleasant surroundings at Ashburne Hall
THE PROGRAMME AND WHAT WE WERE TRYING TO ACHIEVE
The conference committee endeavoured to make a different kind of programme this year:
- More discussion based than informing.
- Encompassing the many different experiences around the world of the relationship between conscientious objection and the money which governments levy from us to pay for their warmongering.
- Seeking to understand the different approaches we use to confront the state’s barbaric methods of dealing with conflict.
- Building stronger bonds between our diverse campaigns.
PLANNING THROUGH THE FORUM
To encourage pre-participation we put a forum on the conference website. A few delegates contributed to this and it was influential in the planning which followed. Although the forum was not a great success in terms of its use, I am convinced that it is a way forward for us to share ideas and encourage each other. The forum is still functioning and will do until October 2009, after which we may move it to a permanent site.
HOW THE CONFERENCE WENT
We welcomed 55 delegates from 15 countries. 30 made the trip from abroad, including, for the first time, one from Ukraine and for a second time from Colombia and Japan.
Judging from the comments received, all the delegates found the conference useful, enjoyable and a success. There were comments for improvement, which will help us improve future conferences.
Paul Rogers gave an excellent speech, outlining an alternative approach to conflict, fit for the 21st century. Entitled Towards Sustainable Security, Paul’s talk made the connection between justice for third world, environmental degradation and war. To find peace we need to address all those issues as well.
We had two sets of four workshop sessions which concentrated on specific topics. Essentially they discussed:
1 Taxes for Peace not War - asking what scope there is for running a campaign to gain wider public support, concentrating on relieving the victims of war rather than (what is often perceived as) salving our personal consciences.
2 Effective Nonviolent Direct Action - different countries have different tax and legal liabilities, how can we most effectively challenge these systems and support war tax resisters?
3 Changing the Way Governments Think - getting to the seat of government to directly negotiate better, sustainable ways of resolving conflict and maintaining human security.
4 Judicial Routes - discussed national and international ways of challenging the system through the law courts. Can you help CPTI gather information about tax cases in your country?
CTPI Legal Committee want to compile an online archive of all case history worldwide to help future international legal action and WTRs who are fighting legal cases.
5 Attracting Young People - not necessarily students, 30 to 40 year olds also badly needed. Can we use the Internet, change the emphasis of our campaigns to ‘better ways of dealing with conflict’ or just make it more fun!
6 Comparison of Different Tax Structures - understanding the different tax structures in the different countries is key to knowing how to challenge them. It is also helpful to the international campaign to know what these differences are.
7 Personal Testimonies of Conscience - a movement in America to encourage individuals to write a ‘Statement of Conscience’ as a personal clarification of their beliefs. At a later date this could be proof of their sincerity to a ‘conscientious objection to taxes’ tribunal or board. Collected together under a Quaker Yearly Meeting or a peace library, they would form a volume of testimony to present to national or international courts and law makers. Have you written your personal testimony yet?
8 Lawful Tax Revolt - there are many international laws and protocols which outlaw war. In principle it is illegal to conduct, aid or abet war. How can we use these instruments to challenge the state’s use of war?
There were four discussion groups which were arranged so that a balanced mix of participants from each of the first four workshops were in each group. This enabled further development of the workshop topics and interaction between them. They were looking at differences and common ground between war tax resisters and peace tax campaigners. They also discussed working together across national boundaries. Many suggestions for collective and international actions arose from these discussions. There were many calls for CPTI to take a more active role, co-ordinating international action.
The next conference, in 2010 will be in Sweden, hosted by Skattebetalare för fred and The Peace Tax Alliance of Norway.
SHINANIGINS AT CAERNARVON CROWN COURT
WHAT IS GOING ON?
On a drizzly day at the beginning of October Sian Cwper and more than a dozen supporters gathered outside Caernavon County Court where she had been summonsed. Sian has withheld 10% of her taxes for five years but this was the first time she had been called to account.
She and her supporters, including Robin who had travelled six hours from Devizes to be there, hung around for more than an hour, talking to reporters from the local newspapers and the local BBC channel. They were told the case had been delayed due to the over run of a previous case. Eventually Sian went and asked what time the case would be heard and was told that HM Revenue and Customs had withdrawn the case. Their reason was that Sian had already paid the overdue amount!
This can happen when you pay 90% of the current year's taxes, it can pay off the 10% you were withholding. What that means then is that you owe double the amount next year - it accumulates. What is outrageous is that HMRC claim that they received her payment in August. So why did they send a summons in September? And why was she not told her debt was settled until she reached court, in October? Is this deliberate antagonism or sheer incompetence?
I suspect the latter. She should never have been summonsed and she is very angry that she and her supporters have been messed around like this. She did get five minutes in chambers with the judge and was able to make her statement to him. He said he respected her views, but is in no position to change the law. This is what she said:
|I have been withholding 10% of my income tax for five years. This is how much I estimate is spent on war. I am a Buddhist, and I don’t believe in killing people. I have taken a vow not to. So I can’t voluntarily give money to the Government knowing that it will be spent on war and preparations for war. I know that a lot of people feel the same, but they can’t do the same because they are on PAYE.
The Nuremberg War Tribunal said in 1950, “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occuring.”
If I gave money to terrorists, I would be held responsible, and punished for helping them in their crimes. I am equally responsible if I give my money to an aggressive government to kill innocent people, and I could be held responsible by an international court in the future.
I am also a member of a group of seven British taxpayers who are taking our government to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, arguing that they are infringing our human rights to freedom of conscience and religion by making us pay for war against our religions and conscience. This group is called the Peace Tax Seven
We have been through the British courts, and have been waiting for almost two years for our case to be heard in Strasbourg.
If we are successful, the British Government, and other European governments will have to change their laws to allow anyone who wants to, to redirect the proportion of their taxes that would have been used for war, elsewhere. We don’t have the right to say where, but it would make sense to use it for non-violent conflict resolution and research into the most effective methods in this field.
If enough people were to make this choice, it could lead to the saving of millions of lives, not only those that would have been killed in wars, but also those who die of hunger, poverty and lack of medical treatment because of the enormous and hideous ammount of the world’s resources that are spend on war. After a little research, specialists in this field, would find that the most effective way to avoid war and bring peace is to ensure a fair standard of living for everyone in conformity with their human rights. This would come a lot cheaper than all the wars and preparations for war that are going on now.
What will we do with the money left over? We could spend a little of it on rehabilitating unemployed ex- arms dealers.
I have received many messages of support, including some from New Zealand, Japan, Spain, France and the United States. Those from Elfyn Llwyd and Jill Evans are amongst them. One friend says she is asking the majority of the Quakers in New York to pray over the case.
Many people have said that I am brave. I would like to contradict this. I do not think that you, honourable judge, are a dangerous person. It is not impossible, even, that you sympathise with my stand. Of course, I assume that you will order a sum of money to be taken out of my bank account. That is your job, and you have no choice. But I don’t see that it takes much courage to stand here in front of you and face such a threat.
The truly brave people are those who oppose their governments, and stand up for justice in countries such as China, Tibet, Burma, and a long and heartbreaking list of other places, where making such a stand means the threat of imprisonment, torture or death.
May the prayers that are focused on this case today be of benefit to such people everywhere.
HMRC have now informed Sian that she owes £7000 and if she does not pay she will be summonsed again to Caernarvon County Court. Sian says; 'This is all very mysterious. I hope that one day I will be taken to court, and be able to explain that I am not able to voluntarily hand over money to the Government that I know will be used for killing, because I don’t believe in killing. I am a Buddhist and have taken a vow not to.' We will keep you posted of events
Other strange tales of the way HMRC have chosen to handle cases like ours are emerging. Simon is convinced that his tax code has been deliberately inflated to take into account the likely tax due on his freelance work. The net result is that instead of receiving demands for payment, he is given a rebate instead!
Robin is still waiting for the bailiffs but all has gone singularly quiet. Our belief is that the government does not want to create publicity over this. What would happen if British citizens en masse, start to question whether they should pay for the illegal, futile and destructive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
CONTEMPT OF CONSCIENCE - 50 minute version
Joe has completed the full length version of his highly successful video short which has been a mainstay of our campaign. The project was completed with the assistance of Clarity Productions who are currently sending it on the rounds of film festivals and TV studios. It is hoped that some day soon it will be shown on TV channels here and on the continent. Meanwhile it is enjoying success in Milan and other film festivals. The film can be viewed online (for a one-off £1 fee) here:
THE MASTERPEACE QUILT PROJECT
We are making a patchwork peace quilt, which, when finished, is to be auctioned and all the proceeds given to The Peace Tax Seven. We are hoping that you will join in the project.
The quilt is being made from 7” (180mm) square patches (to represent The Peace Tax Seven). The colour and design of a square is of personal choice an individual interpretation of the concept of peace. The square may be embroidered, appliquéd or patchworked. It should be approx 7 ½” (190mm) square, so that when the pieces are joined together, they form 7” squares. (Please baste your square to 2 oz wadding).
Please join with us in this project.
If you would like any further information, please contact:- Vicki Creek, tel 01286 881479
Love and peace to you all, Vicki.
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2006 AND 2007?
CATCH UP ON OUR ADDITIONAL NEWS PAGES
Click here to read more news items and to get more background to where PT7 are now
PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION
We have drawn up a petition which can be signed online or printed off and circulated. We will continue to collect signatures until we get a hearing, whether it is in the UK or EEC.
Contempt of Conscience - a full length documentary film about our case and about war tax resistance in general, is now finished and being offered to TV companies. We will advertise the date, time and venue of any showings on this front page. You can read more details here.
PEACE TAX SEVEN - WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?
Your taxes pay for killing people
Many of us don’t even think about it! We may in principle object to war and protest when other people are sent to fight them. For instance two million protested in London against the Iraq war and were ignored by the government. But war can only happen because the weapons and the training is paid for by us out of our taxes.
If you paid someone to go and kill an enemy, you would be as guilty of murder as the perpetrator. This is recognised in law and morally. Paying for the government’s killing machine is no different.
We all bear a responsibility in our society and we should not be made to do something we believe is morally wrong. This is recognised in the Geneva Convention, the Nuremberg Principles and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Don't let this continue to happen
When one and a half millions people took to the streets of London in February 2003 to protest at the war against Iraq, hundreds of thousands more signed petitions, attended meetings, held vigils, prayed, wrote letters, emails, dressed up, made banners, role played, lobbied their MP's and made their presence known in every city and town in Britain. The government paid no heed to our concerns and went ahead and executed their war in our name and with our taxes. Help us ensure that a British government never ignores people of conscience again.
What the PEACE TAX SEVEN are doing
We, seven British citizens, are making a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that our rights are violated by a tax system which makes us pay for the deliberate killing of other human beings. We regard this as a form of conscription, the same as military service and believe all tax paying citizens should have the right to conscientious objection to paying tax for the military.
We are asking to pay all of our taxes, but to have the military part placed in a ring-fenced fund solely for peaceful purposes such as health care, education and non-violent conflict resolution. We have each tried to direct our income taxes to be used for peaceful and non-military purposes. In each case we were denied the right, and each of us has faced a dilemma: either to pay our taxes and so become complicit in killing; or to follow our conscience and break the law by withholding payment of a portion of our taxes. Following our consciences has lead us to court or the threat of prosecution.
We object to this financial conscription, and believe that its legal basis is questionable. We are seeking a change of current UK tax policy to allow any citizen who conscientiously objects to paying for preparations for war to divert that part of their taxes to a Peace Fund.
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