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UA 119/92 - Greece: legal concern: Anastasios (Tasos) Georgiades

, N° d'index: EUR 25/005/1992

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: EUR 25/05/92
Distr: UA/SC
UA 119/92 Legal Concern 9 April 1992
Greece Anastasios (Tasos) Georgiades
Amnesty International is concerned about the imprisonment for the second time
on 4 April of Jehovah's Witness minister Tasos Georgiades after he refused
to perform military service. Since 1988 when new legislation on military service
was introduced in Greece, religious ministers of recognized religions have
been entitled to exemption from military service. Tasos Georgiades, whose
case was the subject of an Amnesty International document, "Greece: Religious
discrimination - minister imprisoned" (AI Index: EUR 25/03/92, February 1992),
was imprisoned for the first time on 20 January after his application for
exemption from military service as a religious minister was turned down by
the military recruiting office on the grounds that the the Jehovah's Witness
faith was not a recognized religion. As a Jehovah's Witness, Tasos Georgiades
is opposed to performing any form of military service.
On 16 March Athens Military Court acquitted Tasos Georgiades of
insubordination and ordered his release acknowledging that the Jehovah's
Witness faith was a recognized religion. He was released the following day
on a 15-day leave permit in order to obtain the necessary papers from the military
authorities to exempt him in future from further call-up. On 2 April, however,
the recruiting office informed him that they would not grant him exemption
from military service and called him to appear at Nafplion Military Camp on
4 April to perform military service. He complied with these orders and was
immediately put in the disciplinary section of the camp. He is due to be
transferred to Avlona Military Prison on 14 April. It is likely he will have
to stand trial again but a trial date has not yet been set.
Amnesty International believes that Tasos Georgiades has been imprisoned
for the exercise of his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
and on the basis of discriminatory treatment by the military authorities against
Jehovah's Witness ministers and calls for his immediate and unconditional
release as a prisoner of conscience. It is concerned by the failure of the
military recruiting authorities to abide by the decision of the military court.
Military service is compulsory in Greece. There is no provision for civilian
service for conscientious objectors. At any given time 350 to 400 conscientious
objectors are in prison for refusing to perform military service. The vast
majority are Jehovah's Witnesses. Amnesty International considers all of them
to be prisoners of conscience and has repeatedly called on successive Greek
Governments to release them and to pass legislation which would enable them
to perform civilian service of non-punitive length.
Tasos Georgiades is the fourth Jehovah's Witness minister known to Amnesty
International to have his application for exemption rejected by the military
authorities since 1988. The other three, Daniel Kokkalis, Dimitris Tsirlis
and Timothy Kouloubas, all now released, were adopted as prisoners of conscience
by Amnesty International. In all of their cases the Council of State (the
highest administrative court in Greece) ruled that they should have been
exempted from military service under Law 1763/88 and emphasized that the
Jehovah's Witness faith was a recognized religion.
Page 2 of UA 119/92
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
- calling for the immediate release of prisoner of conscience Tasos Georgiades;
- expressing concern about the continued religious discrimination by the
military authorities against Jehovah's Witness ministers;
- expressing concern that the verdict of Athens Military Court on 16 March
which acquitted him of insubordination and recognized that he was entitled
to exemption from military service as a religious minister has been ignored
by the recruiting authorities.
1) Mr Ioannis Varvitsiotis
Minister of Defence
Ministry of Defence
Holargos (Pentagono)
Athens, Greece
Telegrams: Defence Minister Varvitsiotis, Athens, Greece
Faxes: (+ 30) 1 646 55 84
Telexes: 216780 rkqa gr
Salutation: Dear Minister
2) Mr Antonis Samaras
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1 Akadimias
106 71 Athens, Greece
Telegrams: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Athens, Greece
Faxes: (+ 30) 1 36 09 716
36 24 195
Telexes: 218213 ypex gr
216593-4 ypex gr
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO: Diplomatic representatives of Greece in your
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 21 May 1992.

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