In the framework of the #ObjectWarCampaign (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine: Protection and asylum for deserters and conscientious objectors to military service), the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), War Resisters’ International (WRI), the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), and Connection e.V. (Germany), call for actions at the Ukrainian and Russian embassies from the 23rd to the 27th of February 2023 to protest against the forced mobilisation and to express solidarity with Ukrainian and Russian conscientious objectors and deserters.
The four organisations denounce all the cases of forced and even violent recruitment to the armies of both sides, as well as all the cases of persecution of conscientious objectors and deserters.
The organisations highlight the case of 46-year-old Christian conscientious objector Vitaly Alekseenko who was convicted to one-year imprisonment sentence by the Ivano-Frankivsk Appeal Court on 16 January 2023 for refusing call up to the military on conscientious grounds. "I told the court I agree that I have broken the law of Ukraine," Alekseenko told Forum 18, "but I am not guilty under the law of God." Ivano-Frankivsk police told him "to be ready to be taken to prison" on 20 February 2023.
The four organisations consider the conviction of conscientious objector Vitaly Alekseenko a blatant violation of his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, guaranteed under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is non-derogable in time of public emergency, according to Article 4.2 of ICCPR.
The organisations express their full solidarity with Vitaly Alekseenko and urge the Ukrainian authorities to drop all charges against him immediately. The organisations underline that his conviction occurs in the context that Ukraine has suspended the right of conscientious objection in the current emergency and call for the relevant decree to be immediately reversed.
The organisations also recall their strong condemnation of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, and call on the soldiers not to participate in hostilities and on all recruits to refuse military service. They also demand Russia to stop prosecuting and release all anti-war protestors who non-violently oppose their government's war of aggression against Ukraine. The organisations as well as call on the Belarusian government to restrain from participation in and complicity with this war.
The Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian governments should safeguard the right to conscientious objection to military service, including in wartime, fully complying with the European and international standards, amongst others the standards set by the European Court of Human Rights. Moreover, Ukraine is member of the Council of Europe and needs to continue to respect the European Convention of Human Rights. As now Ukraine becomes candidate to join the European Union, it will need to respect the Human Rights as defined in the EU Treaty, and the jurisprudence of the EU Court of Justice, which include the right of conscientious objection to military service.
Furthermore, the organisations emphasize that thousands of men and women on all sides are trying to flee their countries to evade the crimes of war. They are all our hope for overcoming violence. Therefore, the European Union should grant protection and asylum to all deserters and conscientious objectors! The Union should urge the Ukrainian government to stop persecuting conscientious objectors to military service and to guarantee them a full right to conscientious objection! And the European Union should open the borders to those who oppose war at great personal risk in their country!
More info to Vitaly Alkeseenko: UKRAINE: Conscientious objector told "to be ready to be taken to prison" - Forum 18, 15/02/2023