The case of an Israeli refusenik

Constantin Soskin is one in a long series of young Israelis who have refused to serve in the army. So far more than one thousand Israeli youth have refsued to be conscripted. Thus the term "refusenik" was coined. He is presently serving a jail sentence because of his refusal, together with several others. Constantin Soskin is one in a long series of young Israelis who have refused to serve in the army. So far more than one thousand Israeli youth have refused to be conscripted. Thus the term "refusenik" was coined. He is presently serving a jail sentence because of his refusal, together with several others.

Constantin was born in 1984 in the Ukraine. In 1991 his family emigrated to Israel. Constantin finished his schooling in Tel-Aviv in 2002 and was then supposed to do his military service. For moral reasons he refused to be conscripted into the Israeli Army - he saw in this body an instrument for violence and oppression. Because of this in February 2003 he was brought before a "military ethical commission" that also deals with people that refuse to serve in the army for moral reasons. It's important to note that this commission has never exonerated anyone from their military service.

The commission's decision was delivered to Constantin just two days before his call up date. His request to be exonerated from military service for moral reasons was rejected. Witnesses that had escorted Constantin to the commission reported that in the commission protocols there were falsifications. Constantin then appealed to the commission decision where he pointed out these falsifications. His appeal was nonetheless rejected by the military authorities.

On March 16, Constantin Soskin was imprisoned for 14 days. After this he refused again to serve in the army and he was arrested again on March 30 and sentenced to a further 14 days. After that he refused again and this time his sentence was doubled. Since April 27 Constantin has been in prison serving his third 28-day stint.

While in prison Constantin Soskin has refused to wear a military uniform and for this he was punished by being put into a 2x4 metres isolation cell. Another prisoner has also been put in such a chamber. While in these cells they have no contact with the outside world - no radio and no TV. Conscientious prisoners formally have the right to one telephone call a week. But Konstantin does not even get this.

First Constantin was imprisoned in military prison N 4 in Zirfin near Rishon-Le-Zion, but later he was transferred to the other jail - N 6 near a place call Atelita. It's very far for where his relatives and friends live and therefore difficult for them to visit. During his transfer from one prison to another too all Constantin's books, except for one, were confiscated. This is a brazen violation of this prisoner's rights.

We, the Israeli Marxists, together with other Israeli left, democratic and human rights organizations are calling for Constantin Soskin and other imprisoned refuseniks to be released.

May 19, 2003.

To find out more about the Refuseniks see: http://www.yesh-gvul.org/english/

For an update on the situation of the refuseniks see also: http://indymedia.org.il/imc/webcast/55973.html