International Conscientious Objectors’ Day (15th May 2016) 

 

When faced with the prospect of war, many people rally to their country’s call. Patriotic sentiments often act as motivating factors for volunteers to the armed forces. However, when these attitudes lose their appeal and recruiting figures stall, the state may introduce conscription, forcing able bodied men to enlist. This was evident in Britain during the twentieth century as thousands of young men joined the ranks during the First World War, Second World War, and also through National Service during the Korean War and other conflicts.

 

Yet, not all eligible citizens complied with the demands of conscription. Many refused to serve in the armed forces on moral or religious grounds. These individuals were called conscientious objectors. Their experiences were mostly unpleasant and the process of obtaining the right to refuse serving in the armed forces was often difficult. Frowned upon by sections of society, their stories are sometimes misunderstood or neglected. But with International Conscientious Objectors’ Day being held on Sunday 15th May, what better opportunity to re-examine some of these compelling stories and the different social reactions evoked by war.

 

Held at the Richard Burton Archives at Swansea University are several documents relating to conscientious objectors and anti-war sentiments during the twentieth century. Read letters from the First and Second World Wars sent by conscientious objectors detained at Swansea and Cardiff prisons. Cast your eye over an application form in a bid to obtain conscientious objector status during World War Two, or witness various letters of support criticising intervention in the Korean War, as the campaign for global disarmament was championed. See also anti-war leaflets and pamphlets from numerous individuals and organizations, which, when considered collectively, show that discourses of peace often juxtaposed and accompanied rallying calls for war.

 

Diwrnod Rhyngwladol Gwrthwynebwyr Cydwybodol (15fed o Fai 2016) 

 

Pan mae rhyfel ar y gorwel, dewis nifer o bobl yw i rhuthro tuag at y lliwiau ac ymladd dros eu gwlad. Profa teimladau cenedlaetholgar yn bwysig i gymell gwirfoddolwyr i’r lluoedd arfog. Ond pan golla’r gwarediadau hyn eu hapêl, a syrthia’r ffigurau recriwtio, gall y wladwriaeth gyflwyno consgripsiwn gan orfodi dynion abl i ymrestru. Roedd hyn yn amlwg ym Mhrydain yn ystod yr ugeinfed ganrif wrth i filoedd o ddynion ifanc ymuno a’r lluoedd arfog adeg y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf, Ail Rhyfel Byd, ac hefyd drwy Wasanaeth Cenedlaethol yn ystod Rhyfel Corea ac eraill.

 

Fodd bynnag, ni chydymffurffiodd pawb gyda gofynion consgripsiwn. Gwrthododd sawl un i wasanaethu yn y lluoedd arfog ar seiliau moesol neu chrefyddol. Gelwir yr unigolion hyn yn wrthwynebwyr cydwybodol. Roedd ei profiadau yn aml yn annymunol ac roedd y broses o ennill yr hawl i wrthod gwasanaethu yn y lluoedd arfog yn lafurus. Gwgwyd nhw gan rhannau o gymdeithas, ac mae eu straeon weithiau yn cael eu camddeall. Ond gyda Diwrnod Rhyngwladol Gwrthwynebwyr Cydwybodol yn digwydd ar Ddydd Sul, 15fed o Fai, pa well gyfle i ail-ystyried rhai o’r straeon hyn a’r gwahanol ymatebion cymdeithasol sy’n cael eu ennyn gan rhyfel.

 

Yn Archifau Richard Burton ym Mhrifysgol Abertawe mae sawl dogfen perthnasol i wrthwynebwyr cydwybodol a theimladau gwrth-ryfel yn ystod yr ugeinfed ganrif. Darllenwch lythyrau o’r ddau rhyfel byd a ddanfonwyd gan wrthwynebwyr cydwybodol a garcharwyd yng ngharchardai Abertawe a Chaerdydd. Cymerwch gip ar ffurflen gais unigolyn i ennill statws gwrthwynebydd cydwybodol yn ystod yr Ail Rhyfel Byd, a byddwch yn dyst i amryw o lythyrau yn cefnogi beirniadaeth o ymyrraeth yn Rhyfel Corea gan bleidio achos diarfogiad fyd-eang. Arsylwch hefyd ar nifer o dalennau a phamffledi gwrth-ryfel gan amryw o unigolion a fudiadau sydd, drwy eu hystyried yn gasgliadol, yn dangos fod disgyrsau heddwch yn aml yn gyfosod ac yn cyd-fynd â rhethreg rhyfelgar.

 

May 13th, 2016

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