Should we celebrate those who refuse to fight in Ukraine?
The war in the Ukraine war is largely being fought by conscripts on both sides, and Ukraine and Russia need to increase the flow of men into the armed forces as the huge number of casualties climbs.
The government of Ukraine is trying to clamp down on men of between 18-60 (considering fighting-age) from avoiding conscription by enrolling as students. According to the Kyiv Post, the number of Ukrainian men enrolled as students over the age of 25 has ballooned from 40,000 in 2021 to 106,000 following the Russian invasion in 2022.
Likewise in Russia, starting next year, those ages 18 to 30 would be required to serve; currently, it is 18 to 27. The new law also prohibits men who have been conscripted from leaving the country, an attempt to cut down on draft dodging, says the New York Times.
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Organizations have emerged to assist “conscientious objectors,” or those who refuse to fight because of non-violence beliefs or other reasons.
To highlight these often controversial campaigns being mounted by peace groups on the ground in Ukraine, Russia, and neighbouring Belarus (a Russian ally), the International Peace Bureau is nominating three of them for the Nobel Peace Prize. The peace groups are the Russian Movement of Conscientious Objectors, the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, and the Belarusian organization “Our House”.
“We are humbled and honored to nominate these three remarkable movements for the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Phillip Jennings, IPB Co-president
In an announcement, the IPB stated, “The decision to nominate these three organizations is a testament to their unwavering dedication in advocating for the right to conscientious objection to military service and promoting human rights and peace in their respective countries.”
It is a dangerous business advocating for conscientious objectors and their allies, as PeaceQuest readers will know. Last month we told you about Belarusian peace builder and human rights defender Olga Karatch who is under threat of deportation by NATO member Lithuania to Russia-allied Belarus, where she could face execution.
“We are humbled and honored to nominate these three remarkable movements for the Nobel Peace Prize. Their courage in championing the right to conscientious objection and their tireless efforts to promote peace and human rights serve as an inspiration to us all,” said Phillip Jennings, Co-President of IPB.
- Read “The International Peace Bureau (IPB) Has Announced its Intention to Nominate Three Remarkable Organizations with a Focus on the Right to Conscientious Objection for the 2024 Nobel Peace Prize,” published August 3, 2023 by IPB.org
(Cover: Irpin, Ukraine – 5 March 2022: Ukrainian soldier stands on the check point to the city Irpin near Kyiv during the evacuation of local people under the shelling of the Russian troops. Via Shutterstock.)