Right to Refuse to Kill

War Resisters' International's programme The Right to Refuse to Kill combines a wide range of activities to support conscientious objectors individually, as well as organised groups and movements for conscientious objection.

Our main publications are CO-Alerts (advocacy alerts sent out whenever a conscientious objector is prosecuted) and CO-Updates (a bimonthly look at developments in conscientious objection around the world).

We maintain the CO Guide - A Conscientious Objector's Guide to the International Human Rights System, which can help COs to challenge their own governments, and protect themselves from human rights abuses.

Information about how nation states treat conscientious objectors can be found in our World Survey of Conscientious Objection and recruitment.

More info on the programme is available here.

In Ukraine, on 16 January 2023, Ivano-Frankivsk Appeal Court rejected the appeal of 46-year-old Christian Vitaly Alekseenko against his conviction for refusing call up to the military on conscientious grounds. The organisations signing this statement 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.

In a joint appeal to members of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a broad civil society alliance from 20 countries has called on the European governments to grant protection and asylum to Russian and Belarusian as well as Ukrainian conscientious objectors and deserters. They need immediate protection and asylum.

This Thursday, 1st December, is Prisoners for Peace Day, a day to show solidarity with those activists who have been imprisoned for their work for peace and conscientious objectors imprisoned for their refusal to take up arms.

This year, we want to highlight the situation of many people in Russia and Ukraine that are imprisoned or facing imprisonment for resisting the current war in Ukraine. 

You can find the list of Prisoners for Peace here.

Yekaterinburg-based artist Ivan Lyubimov has been fined three times for "discrediting" Russia's armed forces for protesting against Russia's war in Ukraine with posters with religious themes. Police have also taken him to court twice for conducting an illegal demonstration and jailed him for 30 days. A Moscow court fined 72-year-old Catholic Galina Borisova for pinning a note to the Russian flag outside St Louis' Church. Another Moscow court acquitted district deputy Konstantin Yankauskas, saying that reposting Pope Francis' words on social media had not "discredited" the army.

This Thursday, 1st December, is Prisoners for Peace Day, a day to show solidarity with those activists who have been imprisoned for their work for peace and conscientious objectors imprisoned for their refusal to take up arms. See a list of those imprisoned for their peace activism and conscientious objection here.

We, Israeli youth, refuse to join the Israeli army and take part in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip. We call out to all citizens of Israel to open their eyes and see the policy of oppression over the palestinian people carried out by the Israeli government. We object to the militaristic education forced on us by the same oppressive policies, we object to the educational system teaching us to hate our neighbors, and we object to the social norms that prohibits the educational system from sharing the true reality in the Palestinian territories with children and youth.

Since Russia’s ruler Putin declared a partial mobilisation for the war against Ukraine, men and women who want to flee the country out of fear of military service and state repression have been contacting PRO ASYL by the minute. This is the information we can currently give to those affected.

On 22 September, a Goranboy court jailed 22-year-old Jehovah's Witness Seymur Mammadov for nine months for refusing compulsory military service on conscientious grounds. On 25 July – two days after his 18th birthday – officers seized conscientious objector Royal Karimov and forcibly took him to a military unit in Ganca, where he is still held.

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