A PETITION for a memorial to conscientious objectors and opponents of war has been recommended for approval by the Petitions Committee of the City of Edinburgh Council.
On Thursday 10 June the Petitions Committee heard what Committee Chairwoman Maggie Chapman and other councillors described as a “moving” presentation from Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre Coordinator Brian Larkin and Andrew Farrar of Edinburgh Quakers.
In his submission Brian Larkin said: “ 2016 will mark the centenary of conscription during the First World War.
“Our hope is for a memorial, probably in the form of a tree and a plaque to be in place by February or March of 2016, the anniversary of conscription. We are exploring the possibility of a statue of some kind to be added at a later date.”
Concern was expressed by one Councillor that the memorial not involve financial costs to the city but it was accepted that fundraising efforts are underway and the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre has undertaken to underwrite any costs not otherwise covered by fundraising efforts.
Council Parks and Greenspace Manager David Jamieson will now work with the Conscientious Objectors Memorial Committee to determine a suitable site in the city centre for a memorial.
The recommendation from the Petitions Committee was for an accessible site that will meet the petitioners’ criteria of proximity to the Mound where demonstrations took place against the First World War, and which will be appropriate for future annual vigils to mark Conscientious Objectors Day.
Nearly 20,000 men refused conscription in the First World War.
Of those, 6000 went to prison and were subjected to harsh treatment and a poor diet. Some were stripped naked or put in solitary confinement for months on a diet of bread and water.
Many also went on hunger strike in protest at conditions and were force fed, and 73 also died.
A concert to raise funds for the memorial will be held at 7:30pm June 20th at the Pleasance. Tickets are available from the Peace and Justice Centre at St John’s Church or online at: comemorial.bpt.me