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BORIS JOHNSON must ensure that the new Armed Forces Bill gives personnel the right to leave the military, especially if they develop a conscientious objection to war, peace campaigners said today.
The Bill was promised in the Queen’s Speech earlier this week.
Former sailor Michael Lyons, who was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment in 2011 after he developed a conscientious objection to the war in Afghanistan but was refused the right to leave the Royal Navy, has backed the call by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU).
Members of Britain’s armed forces have the right to apply for discharge if they develop a conscientious objection.
But Mr Lyons warned that, in practice, conscientious objection can lead to harassment, death threats and incarceration.
“We must listen to the unique views and experiences of those military personnel who choose to stand up and speak out if we are ever to find a way out of perpetual war,” he said.
The PPU will join other peace and human rights groups in Britain in an online ceremony at 4.30pm on Saturday to mark International Conscientious Objectors’ Day.
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