Contempt of Conscience – a documentary about the Peace Tax 7

by Outreach ~ December 7th, 2015. Filed under: News.

At our Peace Agenda event on the 30th of November we screened Contempt of Conscience, a documentary about a group of military tax resisters who were taken to court, fined and threatened with prosecution for following their consciences. The group fought against this injustice and campaigned for their right of conscientious objection to be recognised in the UK tax system – a key aim of the Conscience campaign.
They began by attempting to get a judicial review of government policy, arguing that the government is in breach of article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights – which is the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. They failed to get a hearing on the grounds that it wouldn’t have a chance in domestic courts, and was a case for the European Court of Human Rights.

The group needed no persuasion in accepting the challenge and raised an incredible £50,000 to get them to Strasbourg. Again, they were met with the same answer, refusal of a hearing.

Theirs is an inspirational story, one that fosters enthusiasm for the battle that has yet to be won. The film gave the audience an in depth history of the peace tax movement, its accomplishments, and times it has been unjustly shelved. It provides great motivation for the effort that this campaign needs to continue, so as not to let the hard work already put in be lost or left unfinished.

After the film we had a brilliant discussion with Robin Brookes, war tax resister and member of the Peace Tax 7. Everyone was very encouraged by the bravery of the Peace Tax 7 in failing to give up on challenging the violation of our right to freedom of conscience. One member of the audience wrote to us afterwards to say,

‘A really inspiring video and the talk/Q&A afterwards even more so. I would certainly love to get more involved, most definitely!’
sicourtIn our discussion we all came to the concensus that awareness of this campaign needs to be raised around new groups. Filmed with the backdrop of the war in Iraq, the documentary made the links between taxes and war so blatant, the moral complicity so clear, the violation of freedom so obvious, and the need to challenge the system so urgent.

All of these factors led us to conclude that the campaign needs to be strengthened by those who have not yet considered the relationship between their taxes and war, or paused to challenge the system which takes military tax for granted. Those who, if they knew about the campaign, would confront their passive acceptance and campaign for their individual right to declare ‘Not in my name, not with my taxes’.

The film screening was such a success that we have decided to show it again in January, this time at a venue in Dalston called Passing Clouds, which works to foster activism and support local campaigns that seek to make change at all levels.

The screening will be on January 10th, so if you missed it the first time make sure you come along to this one!

Click here to read statements of conscience from the Peace Tax 7.

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