PT7's complaint against HM Government has been lodged in the European Court of Human Rights. They have acknowledged receipt and told us that it is in the queue for a court hearing. Our case will be initially be pursued through documentation we have presented them and proceedings will primarily be in writing. They will tell us if we are required to attend the court and we hope to hear more in about six months. Our application has been very well constructed and we are confident the Appeal Court decision will help us over the old stumbling block of Strasbourg's decision of 20 years ago which claimed that cases like ours are not matters of conscience. Our application is supported by extremely thorough statements from Quakers, Anglicans and Buddhists. Full text of all the documents can be found if you click here.
OXFORD GROUP TO WITHHOLD TAXES
A peace group in Oxford have consulted PT7 about withholding the military proportion of their taxes. The were outraged by the war in Lebanon, it was the last straw for them so they asked Simon Heywood and Brenda Boughton to go and talk to them about what is involved. Only a few are in a position to actually stop their taxes going to war, but the rest will support them. Watch this space for further news.
More and more are talking about withholding taxes and it is becoming clear that having a group of committed supporters around each resister is the best way to help the campaign. It is very important to show that there are many people deeply unhappy about paying for deliberate killing but have no choice, for instance because they are on PAYE. Supporters are needed to show up at court, write to MPs, help with press campaigning and public demonstrations, as well as give moral support. Please email if you would like to become more involved - link at page end.
Supporting your local war tax resister is a great way to voice your conscientious objection and give more weight to their case.
STANDING 'SHOULDER TO SHOULDER'
WITH PEACE TAX CAMPAIGNERS IN AMERICA
Robin Brookes went to New York at the end of February to join a special conference on Conscientious Objection to Military Taxes, organised by New York Yearly Meeting of Quakers. He extended his trip to talk to several groups about the PT7 case and to spend some time discussing the peace tax issue and campaign ideas with Alan Gamble, the new Executive Director of the National Campaign for Peace Tax Fund. But first he went to represent PT7 and Conscience UK at Marion Franz's memorial service. Marion was an ardent campaigner who won the respect and friendship of many congressmen and senators. She was the first Executive Director of NCPTF, one of the founders of Conscience and Peace Tax International and attended nearly every International Conference on Peace Tax and War Tax Resistance.
Some interesting facts about the campaign in the USA
There are about 8,000 citizens resisting war tax.
There are untold numbers who keep their income below taxable levels.
War tax resistance has been around in some form since the War of Independence.
There is a bill currently before Congress called "The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill".
It is supported by New York and Providence City Councils, about 200 religious and political organisations and 45 congressmen.
There are several national campaigns and funds to help war tax resisters, most notably NCPTF,National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Council and the War Resisters League.
Many war tax resisters put the money in 'escrow' accounts - legally binding funds to hold on to the money until the IRS can assure them it will not be used for war.
He also attended Dan Jenkins appeal in the Federal Court in Manhattan. Dan was appealing a lower court decision that dismissed his defence for withholding taxes and fined him $5,000. Dan’s basic argument is that he wants to pay his taxes but that he also seeks an accommodation for his religious conscience and faith. Similar to our argument, but they have no Human Rights Law, so this is under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act 1993. Dan has put a new slant on this argument, claiming that the 9th amendment of the US Constitution protects the pre-existing rights ‘of the people’ and that the New York State Constitution has (in the distant past) exempted those persons with religious ‘scruples of conscience’ from supplying armament or personal service to military activity. Apparently the history of this goes back to the war of independence, so it was a novel argument. Dan’s case was supported by New York Yearly Meeting in that they had prepared a 20 page amicus brief detailing Quaker belief about not participating in war or paying for it.
The conference itself was enthusiastically attended by war tax campaigners from across the USA. Their intention is to bring a group case - something like the PT7 case with about 10 plaintiffs of different ages, walks of life, belief and from different states. Useful ideas and information was exchanged between the Americans and Robin. Most of the conference was filmed and it is hoped some will be useful in Joe Jenkins' full length Contempt of Conscience documentary. By the end of the weekend the participants had formed a plan and the bones of an organisation to take it forward. Robin's full report can be read here.