Pacifists Celebrate Conscientious Objectors’ Day

May 16th, 2022 - by Ukrainian Pacifist Movement


Ukrainian Pacifists Celebrate
International Conscientious Objectors’ Day

Ukrainian Pacifist Movement

(May 15, 2022) — On the International Conscientious Objectors’ Day 15 May 2022 Ukrainian pacifists made a statement, discussed the peculiarities of conscientious objection to military service in Ukraine under martial law and shared stories from life. Ruslan Kotsaba described how his faith and hope helped him to survive imprisonment for refusal to kill.

Yurii Sheliazhenko informed that greetings from Ukrainian pacifists were read today at the ceremony near the Conscientious Objectors Commemorative Stone in Tavistock Square in London, and outlined the legal aspects of exercising human right to conscientious objection.

Ilya Ovcharenko told how he was called to the Security Service of Ukraine and explained during his interrogation Leo Tolstoy’s anti-war worldview. New members of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, Oleksandra and Yevheniy, solemnly proclaimed the WRI Bilthoven Declaration.


Ukraine celebrates the International Conscientious Objectors’ Day on 15 May 2022, at the difficult time of Russia-Ukraine conflict escalation because of brutal and illegal Russian invasion, when the desire to continue war indefinitely for power and profit turned people into hostages of the death machine.

We call on all belligerents and those who provide them military support to make every effort to achieve agreement on immediate ceasefire and further settlement of the conflict by peaceful means, in accordance with the UN Charter.

We demand of the state full and real guarantees of the human right to conscientious objection to military service and the right to freedom of leaving the country to seek asylum abroad in accordance with international and national standards of human rights and humanitarian law, enshrined, inter alia, by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. Human rights violations during military mobilization should not be allowed.

Together with the War Resisters’ International, we express our solidarity with Russian and Belarusian objectors to military service and demand immediate cessation of all repressions against them.

Wars will end when all people refuse to kill each other. It is our legal right and moral duty. Let’s stop the war together!

Conscientious Objection to Military Service
Is a First Step to a Nonviolent Future

Yurii Sheliazhenko / Ukrainian Pacifist Movement

(May 15, 2022) — Dear friends, Ukrainian Pacifist Movement congratulates you with the International Conscientious Objectors’ Day. We celebrate this day in Ukraine too, and it gives us a hope that once no man will dare to kill somebody and there will be no war forever.

We are moved and grateful to all war resisters in the world protesting against bloodshed in Ukraine, showing solidarity with conscientious objectors to military service in our country, as well as conscientious objectors and deserters in Russia and Belarus. These countries, as unwell as Ukraine, are poisoned by militarism haunting people from the birth to their death in forms of military patriotic upbringing, propaganda of war, military registration, conscription, various forms of official and informal punishment and bullying of evaders from military service.

This Moloch of war, this war machine allowed autocrats, demagogues, and war profiteers to mobilize populations for pointless and senseless mass killing for their personal gain and for perish of peace and welfare in Europe and in the world.

Some brave citizens here and there openly challenge militarism, but mostly people resort to passive resistance. After years of repressions and implantation of violent ideologies, new fragile sprouts of the peace movement need special care. Those who refuse to kill need to feel they are not alone, they have a hope and they have a future.

Conscientious objection to military service is a first necessary step towards creation of nonviolent society, and we should foresee and explain to the people the next steps after this commitment as well as possible consequences of indulgence to delusions of good war and justified violence.

How can they say that peace belongs only to the most powerful and wealthy, to those who can protect themselves by killing others? Do they ever think, what a difference between peace and war, between right and wrong, and what would prevent us from risk of nuclear apocalypse as final suicide in fear to lose some sort of absolute power? The absolute power which was a bad fiction from the beginning, which nobody in reality can have, which no good person or nation should even ask.

Jailed Ukrainian nonviolent resister 

Peace is not a war without end, it is a wonderful dynamics of life free from violence, it is tradition free from repeating tragic mistakes, it is democracy free from angry mobs, and it is economy free from stealing life and happiness of others.

All of this is coming in our life with gradual transformation of the dominant culture of war and violence into a developing culture of peace and nonviolence. Perhaps it is not quite a nonviolent revolution, the dream of many war resisters, and I grant that there are not only moves forward but obvious backlashes too. Maybe today the war machine went out of control, but have no doubts that people can and should stop it.

Many people now can live more peacefully than in the past but still drift between archaic culture of war and progressive culture of peace. This makes more valuable a work of those who understand clearly that peace will not be established spontaneously, that peace is a product of good choices and lot of well-organized efforts, that peace is based on refusal to kill and that peace is not utopia, because it is evidence-based, embodied by effective and realistic models.

Many people successfully lived and continue to live good without violence allowing no power to compromise their principles, no matter how great such power considers itself.

Exercise of human right to conscientious objection is living proof that no power can be absolute, that militarist dystopia have nothing to do with reality, that people know about fraudulence of promised miracles of violence and will not tolerate it.

Let’s remember: this Conscientious Objectors Commemorative Stone in Tavistock Square, dedicated “to all those who have established and are maintaining the right to refuse to kill,” is a cornerstone of better future for all humankind. It is a cornerstone for nonviolent and happy life of all people on Earth.

Once all humans will learn how to be courageous and wise enough to do no harm to ourselves, others, and nature.

We should learn and teach practical ways of nonviolent life and we should refuse to kill, because war is a crime against humanity, and therefore we should not support any kind of war and we should strive for the removal of all causes of war.