Member states and the European Union must grant humanitarian protection and political asylum and protect the rights of freedom and speech to the peace leaders Olga Karatch (Belarus) and Yurii Sheliazhenko (Ukraine).
Member states and the European Union must grant humanitarian protection and political asylum and protect the rights of freedom and speech to the peace leaders Olga Karatch (Belarus) and Yurii Sheliazhenko (Ukraine). The solidarity of the Italian Peace and Disarmament Network.
Olga Karatch, journalist and women’s and human rights activist fled Belarus to avoid arrest on terrorism charges, for which a death sentence hangs. Lithuania, where she took refuge, rejected her request for political asylum and protection.
Yurii Sheliazhenko, (photo) legal advisor and secretary of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, is under house arrest, with a withdrawn passport, accused of ‘being a supporter of the Russian invasion’ and faces five years in prison.
Olga and Yurii (whose organisations are nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the International Peace Bureau), are being prosecuted for the same responsibility: supporting the right of Belarusian and Ukrainian youths to conscientious objection and helping deserters and draft dodgers to evade compulsory conscription and special mobilisation, to refuse the army, not to take up arms, not to kill.
Olga and Yuri attended the World Peace Conference in Vienna on 10/11 June to reiterate the call for a ceasefire and a political solution. They, like all of us, condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine and together we call for a ‘cease-fire’, for the international community to take responsibility for negotiation and bring all the resources of diplomacy and politics to bear.
Freedom of thought and conscience, including the right to conscientious objection to military service, is one of Europe’s core values, also recognised by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Calling it into question, either in an EU country or in a country that would like to accede to it, would call into question the very foundations of our common membership.
We demand that our government take immediate action with the European institutions to grant political asylum and protection to Olga Kharatch and all Belarusian and Russian conscientious objectors and to demand that the Ukrainian government respect the right of conscientious objection and freedom of thought of Yuri Sheliazhenko and all Ukrainian objectors.
Rome, 19th of August, 2023