Conscientious objection

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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.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has urged Turkey to stop prosecuting conscientious objectors and take the necessary measures to address the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights. Since 2006, the ECHR has ruled against Turkey multiple times regarding the treatment and status of conscientious objectors. 

A network of antimilitarist activists from East and North Europe has launched an online event called Antimilimarathon. For 42 consecutive days, starting on 1st June, they will share and post in social media a variety of events, workshops, discussions and webinars, promoting antimilitarist art and culture. If you want to participate in this marathon use the hashtag #Antimilimarathon.

PRO ASYL and Connection e.V., both based in Germany, released a report criticising the German government for its record of denying refugee status for asylum seekers from Eritrea. In their report, the organisations detailed the ongoing oppressive practices of the Eritrean regime, despite a peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea in July 2018. They called on German authorities and courts to provide necessary protection for Eritreans fleeing the oppression and indefinite conscription in Eritrea in accordance with the UNHCR guidelines and Geneva Convention.

Since 2016, US Congress has been having an extended debate to expand the current draft registration to women. However, it decided to delay its decision and assigned a Military, National, and Public Service Commission (NCMNPS) to study this issue. In March of this year, the National Commission presented its final report in which it recommended to extend the draft registration to women. There are two bills pending in the Congress at the moment: to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System or to implement the National Commission recommendations including requiring women to register for the draft.

Ruling party deputy Siyavush Novruzov told parliament on 30 March that an Alternative Service Law should be adopted. Parliament's Defence Committee is handling this, he told Forum 18. The government has not made public any draft. Azerbaijan committed to the Council of Europe to have alternative service by 2003 but failed to meet its obligation.

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.

On this International Conscientious Objection Day (CO Day), we drew particular attention to those who have had to leave their country of origin due to forced recruitment, and who are looking for protection in other countries. Following the CO Day, War Resisters’ International is organising a webinar on the same subject with contributions by campaigners and conscientious objectors.

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