Ukraine: Drop the charge against Yurii Sheliazhenko
Pacifism is not a crime
(05.08.2023) The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), War Resisters’ International (WRI), the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and Connection e.V. (Germany) strongly condemn the fact that Yurii Sheliazhenko, Executive Secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, has been formally charged by the Ukrainian government with the crime of “justification of Russian aggression” with sole “evidence” the Statement of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, adopted at the meeting on International Day of Peace 21 September 2022, entitled “Peace Agenda for Ukraine and the World”. What is more, the statement explicitly condemns Russian aggression (https://worldbeyondwar.org/peace-agenda-for-ukraine-and-the-world/).
We are all shocked that the Security Service of Ukraine broke into the apartment of Yurii Sheliazhenko yesterday, August 3rd 2023, and conducted an illegal search and seizure operation, finding nothing criminal and taking his phone, his computer, as well as some documents of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement. We strongly protest about the harassment of Yurii Sheliazhenko, who is summoned to interrogation on August 7th, 8th and 9th 2023.
We remind the Ukrainian government that pacifism is not a crime. We demand that the charge against Yurii Sheliazhenko is immediately dropped, and that human rights are fully protected, including the right to freedom of expression and the right to conscientious objection to military service, which is inherent in the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, guaranteed, amongst others, under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is non-derogable even in a time of public emergency, as stated in Article 4(2) of ICCPR.
Yurii Sheliazhenko is a well-known conscientious objector, pacifist, human rights defender and lawyer. We strongly condemn all actions of harassment and all attempts of intimidation against him and the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, as well as all cases of forced recruitment and even abduction of conscripts to the in the war in Ukraine involved armies, and all persecutions of conscientious objectors, deserters and non-violent anti-war protestors.
We support EBCO’s request for an urgent meeting with the President of Ukraine in Kyiv on Monday August 7th 2023 to discuss our concerns and recommendations, also in the framework of our joint #ObjectWarCampaign: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine: Protection and asylum for deserters and conscientious objectors to military service.
We also support the petition to the Ukrainian Government which was launched by the World BEYOND War yesterday: Tell the Ukrainian Government to Drop Prosecution of Peace Activist Yurii Sheliazhenko
For interviews please contact:
- Alexia Tsouni, European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), ebco(at)ebco-beoc.org, www.ebco-beoc.org
- Semih Sapmaz, War Resisters’ International (WRI), semih(at)wri-irg.org, www.wri-irg.org
- Christian Renoux, International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), christian.renoux(at)univ-orleans.fr, www.ifor.org
- Rudi Friedrich, Connection e.V., office(at)Connection-eV.org, www.Connection-eV.org
- Yurii Sheliazhenko, Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, yuriy.sheliazhenko(at)gmail.com, http://pacifism.org.ua/
Connection e.V., EBCO, WRI and International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR): Press release, August 4, 2023