Ukraine: Release peace activist Yurii Sheliazhenko and drop all charges against him

poster for the press release in support of Yurii Sheliazhenko

The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), War Resisters’ International (WRI), the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and Connection e.V. (Germany) strongly condemn the fact that Yurii Sheliazhenko, a well-known conscientious objector, pacifist, human rights defender and lawyer, Executive Secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, has been placed under partial house arrest by the Solomyanskyi District Court of Kyiv on 15 August 2023.

Yurii Sheliazhenko is a prisoner of conscience detained simply for peacefully expressing his genuine pacifist views, and should be immediately and unconditionally released and all the charges against him dropped. The Ukrainian authorities should respect the right to freedom of expression and stop the crackdown on Yurii Sheliazhenko and the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, which reveals their growing intolerance for dissent.

We remind the Ukrainian government that pacifism is not a crime in democratic states. We demand that human rights are fully protected, including the right to conscientious objection to military service, which is inherent in the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, guaranteed, amongst others, under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is non-derogable even in a time of public emergency, as stated in Article 4(2) of ICCPR.

We strongly condemn all actions of harassment and all attempts of intimidation against Yurii Sheliazhenko and the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, as well as all cases of forced recruitment and even abduction of conscripts to the involved armies in the war in Ukraine, and all persecutions of conscientious objectors, deserters and non-violent anti-war protestors in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and elsewhere.

We support the IPB intention to nominate three remarkable organizations with a focus on the right to conscientious objection for the 2024 Nobel Peace Prize; the Russian Movement of Conscientious Objectors, the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, and the Belarusian organization “Our House”.

Press pack – Chronology & Resources:

11 August 2022: Criminal proceedings open against Yurii Sheliazhenko, Executive Secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, on the pretext of anti-Ukrainian character of his human rights defending activities, notably legal aid consultation text "human right to conscientious objection to military service".

21 September 2022, International Day of Peace: The Ukrainian Pacifist Movement meets and adopts the Statement entitled “Peace Agenda for Ukraine and the World”.

3 August 2023: Yurii Sheliazhenko, Executive Secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, is charged with the crime of “justification of Russian aggression” with sole “evidence” the Statement of 21 September 2022, which explicitly condemns Russian aggression. The Security Service of Ukraine breaks into the apartment of Yurii Sheliazhenko and conducts an illegal search and seizure operation, finding nothing criminal and taking his phone, his computer, as well as some documents of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement.

3 August 2023: The World BEYOND War launches a petition to the Ukrainian Government entitled “Tell the Ukrainian Government to Drop Prosecution of Peace Activist Yurii Sheliazhenko”.

4 August 2023: The IPB announces its intention to nominate three remarkable organizations with a focus on the right to conscientious objection for the 2024 Nobel Peace Prize; the Russian Movement of Conscientious Objectors, the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, and the Belarusian organization “Our House”.

4 August 2023EBCOWRIIFOR and Connection e.V. publish a Joint Press Release in the framework of the #ObjectWarCampaign, entitled “Ukraine: Pacifism is not a crime in democratic states! Drop the charge against Yurii Sheliazhenko, #FreePeaceSpeech”.

4 August 2023IPB publishes a Press Release entitled “Justice for Yurii Sheliazhenko”.

5 August 2023: EBCO President meets with Yurii Sheliazhenko and his advocate Svitlana Novytska during her human rights monitoring mission in Kyiv.

7-8-9 August 2023: Yurii Sheliazhenko is summoned to interrogation.

7 August 2023: EBCO President meets the Senior Investigator of the Investigative Department of the Security Service of Ukraine, but she is not allowed to attend the interrogation according to the Ukrainian law.

7 August 2023EBCO publishes a Video Interview with Yurii Sheliazhenko in Kyiv.

8 August 2023: The Senior Investigator of the Investigative Department of the Security Service of Ukraine with the agreement of the Prosecutor of the Kyiv City Prosecutor's Office submits a request to the Court on the application of a preventive measure in the form of 24-hour house arrest for 60 days to Yurii Sheliazhenko.

15 August 2023: The investigating judge of the Solomyanskyi District Court of Kyiv in an open court session partially satisfies the request and orders to place Yurii Sheliazhenko under house arrest, prohibiting him from leaving his place of residence in the time period from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next day until 11.10.2023 inclusive, excluding the need to leave this home during an air raid and emergency medical assistance. He also imposes on Yurii Sheliazhenko until October 11, 2023, inclusive, the following duties: to come to the investigator, prosecutor, investigating judge, court at every request; to deposit with the relevant state authorities his passport(s) for traveling abroad, other documents giving the right to leave Ukraine and enter Ukraine (if such documents are available); notify the investigator, prosecutor or court about a change of residence and/or work; refrain from communicating with persons identified by the investigator as witnesses. Employees of the National Police, in order to monitor his behavior, have the right to appear in the house where he is under arrest, to demand oral or written explanations on issues related to the fulfilment of his obligations. The decision is subject to immediate execution and can be appealed directly to the Kyiv Court of Appeals within 5 days.

#ObjectWarCampaignRussia, Belarus, Ukraine: Protection and asylum for deserters and conscientious objectors to military service.

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