ACOOC – Colombian Collective Action of Conscientious Objectors

acoocDespite the ongoing peace process, the Colombian government clearly stated that it has no intention to reduce its armed forces. Today there is still no guarantee for the right of conscientious objection and detentions with the goal of recruitment (“raids, round ups”) continue as a systematic practice, mostly affecting youth from marginalized urban neighborhoods between the ages of 16-30. Learn more about Conscientious Objection in Colombia.

ACOOC supports conscientious objectors in their struggle against discrimination and to achieve recognition by the Colombian government, advises young people who are victims of illegal recruitment practices by the military and is working towards the recognition of conscientious objection by the Colombian government.

Colombia is the only South American nation with an ongoing internal armed conflict where military service is obligatory, requiring all 18-year-old young men to serve for one to two years – with no option of an alternative civil service. The military identification card let is still obligatory condition to work in public sector and remains a mechanism of social control.

Committed to nonviolence, ACOOC also works towards demilitarization of society by using creative means such as films and street theatre to highlight the degree of militarization of Colombian society. Through various campaigns the group tries to find national (universities, civil society organizations) and international political support for their concerns.

ACOOC is educating young men about their rights concerning conscientious objection. In cases of forced recruitment of a conscientious objector by the state military, ACOOC activates a network to seek his release from the battalion/military prison. ACOOC also organizes both young men and women to develop critical positions in Colombian society and create cultural spaces that challenge militarization and recruitment by both legal and illegal groups.

FORPP is accompanying ACOOC mostly by political accompaniment, raising concerns with the national military, as the rights if the youth are systematically being violated by the Colombian armed forces, and raising awareness on international level. As an organization FOR as large trajectory and affinity to conscientious objection.