Planning and discussing activities: new actions / new ideas
Saturday 30 November 1996, 2-4 pm
Facilitator: Bart Horeman
Scribe: Koen Moens
IntroductionThe workshop was attended by:
Koen Moens, Paul Sheldon, Eva Parell, Jan Birk, Hannelore Mor
genstern, Pedro Otaduy, Alun Davies, Cecile Seetharamdoo, Alessandra
D'Aleo, Giorgina Momigliano, Cesar E. Flores, Dominique Saillard,
Cecily Campbell-Smith, Christa Voigt, Angela Schultz, Bjoerg Berg,
Stephen Warburton, Bart Horeman.
A round was held to make an inventory of existing ideas.
1 Eva Parell explained the '50 Crowns for peace' action.
In stead of withholding the equivalent of the military tax, in Sweden
they started to promote the idea of withholding a fixed amount (50
Crowns) and sending this money to the Taxpayers for Peace. They
collect the peace money and give it to peace pro jects. Because the
amount is relatively small, the tax autho rities are reluctant to do
something about it. In one instance the tax collector even accepted
the tax reduction (by not re sponding to the tax payer s/he had payed
The action has been held for 6 years. About 200 people take part in
the action, the number is still increasing.
In Spain a similar action was done: 7000 pesetas for peace.
2 The Canadian 'loony poll' action was explained. In March/April,
tax collection times, this action is done.
On the streets they give the public one Canadian dollar (a loony) and
ask people: suppose this was your tax money, how do you like to spend
it? They can put the loony in different ca tegories of spending like:
the military, education, social services, the environment etcetera.
It turns out very little people chose military spending.
In the USA they had done similar actions, called 'penny poll'. People
are given the choise of putting the penny in two glass jars: military
or social spending.
In Belgium, they had recently done a similar action at the start of
the Flemish Peace Week. Peaple could vote where money shoudl go to:
social or military spending. There was a massive support for the
social spending. Impressive was how seriously people voted.
In Germany a similar action was done on Kirchentag (Church day). The
public was presented a balance with on one side mi litary tanks and
the other side people could place small paper boxes with peace
messages and indications of what they would like to see their
military tax used for. Symbollically it took a lot of paper messages
to balance the military tanks.
3 Bart explained the Netherlands Peace Coin action.
Some years ago the BWD had offered the Mint a design for a new coin:
a coin that should not be used to pay for war. As this was rejected,
the BWD decided to produce the coin itself. The BWD sells the coin, a
GoldGuilden Peace, to people who sympa thise with the idea that money
should go to civil peace teams, like PBI and Balkan Peace Team, in
stead of the army. The pro fits from the coin go to the civil peace
teams. People who buy the coin are asked to write letters to the
Minister of Foreign Affiars and the Minister of Defense to express
their wish that (part of) military spending should go to civil peace
The first serie of 1000 peace coins have been sold. Also all members
of parliament received a coin. There response was very low. Recently,
the BWD started to investigate the possibility to pay part of the
taxes with the peace coin.
4 Cheques to the president/cheques for conversion.
In Italy they have sent a cheque (with withheld tax money) every year
to the President, but the cheque was always retur ned. Two years ago
they have sent it to the Treasury. They have kept the cheque, but do
not seem to know what to do with it. The cheque has not been cashed.
1 Transferring funds to central coordinating agency and asking for
2 Make donations to NGO's working for peace and claiming tax back.
3 Fund local treasury authority. In Italy a law was passed that
allows financing pece efforts in Bosnia using CO's to military
service (Law 180/92). It works via local authorities that can fund
In Germany on 10 December 1995 they sent 200 postcards and letters
and 15.000 DEM of refused taxes to the Bundespresi dent, asking him
to make sure to spend it on non-military me ans to promote peace. The
president refused the money and re fused an appointment to speak
about the Peace tax concern, because the Bundespresident is supposed
to be political neu tral. Each participant received a letter and
his/her money back from the president.
Similarly, 1600 postcards were tried to hand over to the pre sident
of the parliament (Bundestag), but the president refu sed an
appointment. So the cards were sent by mail.
5 Tax paying together (Spain)
in 1983 they started proportional tax resistance. it was hard to keep
this going over a long period. now the withhold a fixed amount: 7000
ESB (30 GBP).
In 1995 they raised 4.7 mil esb. which was given to the Tur kish
ISKD. The number of tax resisters stays the same: 2000- 3000.
Every May-June, tax resisters all go together to the tax offi ce to
present their tax papers and pay taxes. The newspapers were informed
of this action. Now they closed the tax offices on Saturdays, so less
people can join in at this action.
They want to change the idea of paying tax for good things into
paying tax for bad things.
No-one goes to jail for refusing 7000 esb. They just take it from
your bank account.
6 Leafletting to increase membership
In Britain the action is primarily aimed at increasing mem bership
and becoming financially independent.
They have successfully worked with a leaflet, which resembles a 10
pound note: 10% of your taxes go to the military.
(The Ministry of Finance thought the first design resembled the 10
pound note too much. This led to the destruction of thousands of
leaflets, but also caused a lot of publicity.)
They distribute the leaflet sensibly. They pay other (peace,
environmental, left-wing) magazines to include the leaflet in the
magazine. The leaflets have a code in the margin, so they can monitor
the response from the respective mailings. In the last two years they
got 500 new members solely from the leaf lets. For Conscience this
means both the finances and the lob bying power increase.
A second leaflet is in production. They want to circulate it again,
especially to those who received the first one but did not react. The
leaflet will be focused more on militarism and alternatives to
In addition to the leafletting, every new member receives a
membership pack, full of information, with seperate colored leaflets
what one can do (e.g. how to write to MP's). This actually helped to
By now, they have had a long period of finding out how and why the
leafletting works or not works.
In Belgium they have translated and copied the leaflet, but results
are not clear yet.
7 Alternative tax assessment forms.
In Belgium, the Netherlands and USA they have produced an al
ternative tax assessment form, which everyone can use to find out how
much one contributes to the military by tax paying.
8 Lobbying and other (new) ideas.
In Britain they reach parlementarians by making an appoint ment. When
a MP comes, they go door to door to ask the people to talk about the
military spending with the MP.
In the USA they have had the 10.000 letter campaign. Everyone looked
for 100 people to write a letter.
In Germany every month they go to the parlement to make an
appointment (with 10-20 MPs). Also they try to get into talk shows; 2
times they had success.
In Honduras a president candidate was pushed to promise before tv to
cut down military spending. After the election he was pressed to keep
his promise. The next step is a peace tax fund.
Belgian idea (similar to a British idea): to burn an amount of money
in front of the Ministry and link this to the fact that the military
budget is just wasted.
In Britain there is a tv-program in which people can strongly speak
out on certain issues.
Let War Tax Resistance be an issue in the oecumenial assembly in
Graz, 1997. (The World Council of Churches has initiated a new
campaign against violence.)
Groups dealing with CO in Europe are now looking for new di rections,
because conscription is abolished. War tax resistan ce can be their
Many ideas stem from the 80s, not taking into account the fall of the
Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War.
There are all sorts of archives on conflict resolution: put it on the
Tiedemann's database is on Internet.
We can use Internet (email) to pass communications quickly.