ISSUE 51 SPRING 2006
    

Peace Matters Index

a park named arndt

ONLINE contents

- a real champaign moment
- a park named arndt
- life imprisonment for desertion
- homeland security
- military lessons
- second coming
- close the deso
- remembering Harry and Allen


- compled issue pdf


Last month Helsinki city council decided to name a park after Arndt Pekurinen, a pacifist and leading figure in the original War Resisters section in Finland.

Arndt Pekurinen first refused military service in 1926 and was repeatedly imprisoned between 1929 and 1931. The 1931, alternative service law kept him out of prison but the law only applied in peacetime. As war came Arndt was again convicted and eventually sent to the front where he was executed for refusing to wear a uniform or carry arms. The first two soldiers ordered to shoot him refused.

After the war, there was an inconclusive investigation into the circumstances of his execution and for over 50 years he was forgotten. A book, Courage: the life and execution of Arndt Pekurinen, published in 1998 revived interest and following a campaign by the Committee of 100 in Helsinki resulted in the naming of the park.

Arndt was inspired by Jonathan Swift: 'As people are not eaten, butchering them is of no use.'

Meanwhile in Canada in response to the US war on Iraq peace activist Issac Romano had the idea of a peace monument in Nelson. Remembering the 100,000 draft age Americans who crossed the border to Canada during the Vietnam war years, many of who still live in the area, he proposed a monument - 'The Welcoming' an 18 meter peace sign in a water pool over which would flow a water arch indicating the US/Canada border under which Americans from one side are welcomed by open armed Canadians on the other.

Perhaps unsurprisingly American veterans groups protested and threatened to boycott Nelson. The town relies on tourist dollars so the plans for the monument were turned down. Undeterred Romano is now organising a reunion for war resisters old and new, American and Canadian.

         





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