Ukraine

CO-Update 100 is out!

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The latest issue of our newsletter CO Update is out! In this issue, you'll find stories on conscientious objection and conscription from Ukraine,Turkey, Eritrea, Germany, USA, Azerbaijan, Thailand, among others.

The Ukrainian Pacifist Movement condemns Bill No 3553, recently sent to parliament by President Zelensky. If parliament passes the bill, Ukraine will face further bloodshed, crime will rise, and our economy will fall into deeper misery and shadows. Thousands of additional Ukrainian citizens will seek asylum abroad, away from war and violence destroying their peaceful way of life.

WRI affiliate Ukrainian Pacifist Movement (UPM) released a statement condemning a bill introducing “intolerable elements of military dictatorship” in Ukraine. UPM said, Bill No 3553, proposed by the president Volodymyr Zelensky, introduces mandatory military registration for employment, as well as draconian fines and imprisonment for conscientious objectors and those showing solidarity with them.

Contrary to international humanitarian law, Russian continues conscripting men in Crimea to serve in the Russian armed forces. Human Rights Watch has reviewed dozens of judgments from Crimean courts on criminal draft evasion cases and identified 71 criminal draft evasion cases and 63 guilty verdicts between 2017 and 2019.

Russian Federation Armed Forces have conscripted a record-high number of 3,300 local men from the occupied Crimea in its latest conscription campaign, a recent report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stated. According to the report, since 2017, 29 Crimean residents have been convicted of draft evasion, which is punishable up to two years imprisonment according to Russian law.

For many years, it looked like obligatory military service was on the way out. But in the last five years, the picture has changed: Norway has extended conscription for women; Sweden has reintroduced conscription for all; Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and Kuwait have reintroduced conscription for men after short hiatuses; Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have introduced conscription for the first time. We look at why governments are turning to compulsion in filling their armies, and what this means for pacifist movements.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recently issued a report on the human rights situation in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

The report covers the human rights developments in the region from 22 February 2014 to 12 September 2017. As well as various other issues, the report includes rights violations in relation to ongoing military conscription by the Russian armed forces in the region.

Ruslan Kotsaba, a journalist from Ukraine who was earlier charged with high treason for his refusal to military draft, and held in detention for more than 15 months, was released on 14th July following the order of the Court of Appeal in Ivano-Frankivsk region. 

Ruslan Kotsaba, originally a supporter of the Maidan protests, uploaded a video on YouTube to voice his opposition to Ukraine’s warfare in the eastern part of the country in January 2015. In a statement addressing the President Petro Poroshenko, the journalist announced his refusal to be called up, calling on his fellow countrymen to do likewise and make a stand against conscription. In his address, he stressed his view that the ongoing conscription at that time in Ukraine was unlawful since the Ukrainian government had not declared war.1

On 14th July, conscientious objectors Tair Kaminer and Ruslan Kotsaba – in Ukraine and Israel respectively - were released. Journalist and draft refuser Ruslan Kotsaba was freed on appeal, after initially being charged with treason. The judge found that there was no evidence to condemn him, and ordered his immediate release from custody. In Israel, refuser Tair Kaminer was exempted from the army for 'bad behaviour'. She had spent over 150 days in prison for her refusal. CO Omri Baranes is still going through the process of being repeatedly called up, imprisoned, released and called up. Sign up to support her, and other COs, here. Refusing to kill is not a crime.

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