Olga Karatch

Olga Karatch

We can win in this war only if we agree NOT to fight in it

Speech of Olga Karatch, Belarus, to the International Day of Conscientious Objection 2023

(15.05.2023) Today a unique war is going on. It’s not a war for a territory. Russia has so vast territories that it’s stupid to launch a war for new ones.

No, this is a civilizational war, it is a war for values. It is a test of our resilience and courage: will we give up our views and values, or will we not?

Today, men and women from different nations and different countries stand up together against the war and for the peace in Ukraine. Today we are taking the signatures of supporters of peace to the European Commission with the demand to help men of Belarus - and not only of Belarus - to avoid participation in this war.

Today, it’s a great honor for me to be part of one large anti-war movement of the whole world and participate in the campaign #ObjectWarCampaign.

Today, it’s an inspiration for me to see how many people support with their signatures our desire NOT to take up arms, NOT to fight, NOT to serve in the army and NOT to make part of militaristic state systems.

We can win in this war only if we agree NOT to fight in it, only if we DON’T speak the language of war and the language of hate, only if we DON’T agree with the notion that human rights mean nothing, that they are not universal.

We can win in this war only if do not give up our values, only if we do not agree with the narrative that a real man is only a man holding a weapon in his hands, only if we do not agree with the narrative that a man without weapons is weak.

We can win in this war only if we never return to objectifying women and to perception of women as a trophy in the war that has no voice and no influence on the process of decision-making.

We can win in this war only if we DO NOT agree that all other issues, like struggle for ecology and against climate change, struggle against nuclear plants, fight for gender equality, for the LGBT rights, for the rights of other minority groups, are not important because there is a war going on.

We do not agree with that! We refuse to be on the side of supporters of war!

Men in Belarus have the right not to take up arms and not to join the army!

Men in Belarus, same as women, have the right to say NO! to militarization and weaponization!

Women of Belarus have the right to be themselves and build their life as they wish, and not to be a war trophy or a state slave of Lukashenka!

Men of Belarus are all real men, especially those who hate war and who don’t want to join the army for reasons of conscience!

Today, men in Belarus are subject to repressions for their refusal to take up arms.

About 400 criminal cases have been open in Belarus for evading military service. Unfortunately, for now we do not know the names of our heroes, of those men who found strength to say NO to the army and NO to taking up weapons, in spite of terror, in spite of repressions, in spite of pressure of their relatives and in spite of threats of torture.

Since February 21, 2023, in Belarus, a person faces death penalty for deserting the army, although the charges brought against such person are called “High Treason”.

However, the real High Treason in our country today is to agree to go to the army, agree to take up weapons, agree to participate in the war.

The most impactful contribution of Belarus into ending the war in Ukraine would be NON-participation of Belarus in this war on Putin’s side.

And Belarus will not participate in this war if Lukashenka does not have soldiers for the war.

Men in Belarus do not want to join the army, and they need help in their fight for the right to refuse the military service. We need humanitarian corridors for Belarusian conscientious objectors and deserters. We need political asylum for them, and we need support - any support we can get: political, financial, informational, or organizational.

We need to unite around the pacifist sentiments of the Belarusian nation, and help Belarusians to withstand and defend their pacifist views even under the onslaught of the two militarists like Putin and Lukashenka.

Starting from the 1st of July 2023, tactical nuclear weapons are going to be deployed in Belarus, and starting from the 1st of July 2023, new escalation of the conflict in the region is going to begin.

I am here because I want you to help us, help Belarus to avoid participation in the war.

I am here because I want humanitarian corridors for Belarusian conscientious objectors and deserters.

I am here because it is high time to activate the UN Resolution 1325 on active participation of women in peace-keeping and peace-building processes

I am here because I am against the war and against the militarization.

And I know that you are here, because you are for peace, too!

Olga Karatch, Nash Dom (Belarus): Speech to May 15, 2023 in Berlin