Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh (Photo: Centenary News)

Edinburgh petition for centenary memorial to conscientious objectors

Posted on on 30 March 2015
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Campaigners are calling for the creation of a memorial to conscientious objectors in Edinburgh in 2016, the centenary of Britain introducing conscription during the First World War.

Edinburgh City Council is being petitioned to provide financial support and a permanent public space for the project in Princes Street Gardens, the park in the heart of the Scottish capital.

Supporters of the campaign, launched by the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, include church groups.

They want the memorial to be 'facilitated' by February 2016, marking the 100th anniversary of the UK Parliament passing the Military Service Act which introduced conscription in 1916.

Unlike the other great European powers, Britain relied on voluntary enlistment in the first eighteen months of the war.

The petition states: "With the Centenary of the First World War there is a feeling that there should be a memorial in Scotland’s capital city to conscientious objectors and opponents of wars which would henceforth provide a public focus for those who wish to gather to remember all those, past or present, refusing to participate in or opposing wars.   

"Taking this stance meant considerable hardship for those who refused to participate in or support the First World War and their families, that over 300 British “Deserters” were shot, and Conscientious Objectors were subjected to harsh treatment by the military, in prison, and in their communities and 73 First World War conscientious objectors died in or following imprisonment. 

"Their courageous stance cleared the way for improved recognition of the right to oppose war and to refuse to take part in wars and helped lay the foundations for the promotion of peaceful means for the resolution of conflicts and for achieving a just peace."  

The petition can be found on the City of Edinburgh Council website.

Source: Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News