Ukraine

For many years, it looked like obligatory military service was on the way out. But in the last five years, the picture has changed: Norway has extended conscription for women; Sweden has reintroduced conscription for all; Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and Kuwait have reintroduced conscription for men after short hiatuses; Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have introduced conscription for the first time. We look at why governments are turning to compulsion in filling their armies, and what this means for pacifist movements.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recently issued a report on the human rights situation in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

The report covers the human rights developments in the region from 22 February 2014 to 12 September 2017. As well as various other issues, the report includes rights violations in relation to ongoing military conscription by the Russian armed forces in the region.

Ruslan Kotsaba, a journalist from Ukraine who was earlier charged with high treason for his refusal to military draft, and held in detention for more than 15 months, was released on 14th July following the order of the Court of Appeal in Ivano-Frankivsk region. 

Ruslan Kotsaba, originally a supporter of the Maidan protests, uploaded a video on YouTube to voice his opposition to Ukraine’s warfare in the eastern part of the country in January 2015. In a statement addressing the President Petro Poroshenko, the journalist announced his refusal to be called up, calling on his fellow countrymen to do likewise and make a stand against conscription. In his address, he stressed his view that the ongoing conscription at that time in Ukraine was unlawful since the Ukrainian government had not declared war.1

On 14th July, conscientious objectors Tair Kaminer and Ruslan Kotsaba – in Ukraine and Israel respectively - were released. Journalist and draft refuser Ruslan Kotsaba was freed on appeal, after initially being charged with treason. The judge found that there was no evidence to condemn him, and ordered his immediate release from custody. In Israel, refuser Tair Kaminer was exempted from the army for 'bad behaviour'. She had spent over 150 days in prison for her refusal. CO Omri Baranes is still going through the process of being repeatedly called up, imprisoned, released and called up. Sign up to support her, and other COs, here. Refusing to kill is not a crime.

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UPDATE: on 14 July Ruslan was released on appeal, the judge finding that there was insufficient evidence to support the charge of treason. Read the news here.

Ukrainian court of appeal acquits journalist sentenced for high treason

Read more on UNIAN: http://www.unian.info/politics/1417986-ukrainian-court-of-appeal-acquit… Ukrainian court of appeal acquits journalist sentenced for high treason

Read more on UNIAN: http://www.unian.info/politics/1417986-ukrainian-court-of-appeal-acquit… PDF

Conscientious objector and journalist sentenced to 3½ years in jail

Ukrainian journalist and CO Ruslan Kotsaba is on trial in Ivano-Frankivsk. Ruslan has been in detention for almost a year, charged with treason and obstructing the military.  In a video addressed to the Ukrainian President, he declared his refusal to be drafted, saying he would rather go to prison for five years than turn a weapon on his "compatriots in the east".

Draft Law 4020 has been adopted by the Ukrainian government. The law, instigated by President Poroshenko, allows the President, in 'special circumstances' e.g. during military mobilisation, to give only one months' notice of the draft. Notice is given in the media.

However, conscientious objectors who wish to apply for an alternative service need to apply two months before their call up. So in theory, if this practice is applied, it may make it impossible to take advantage of the right of alternative service.

Ukrainian journalist and CO Ruslan Kotsaba is on trial in Ivano-Frankivsk. Ruslan has been in detention for almost a year, charged with treason and obstructing the military. In a video addressed to the Ukrainian President, he declared his refusal to be drafted, saying he would rather go to prison for five years than turn a weapon on his "compatriots in the east". He called on his fellow countrymen to refuse to be drafted. Ukrainian law does allow individuals to refuse military service, but this right is confined to a small group of religious minorities. He could face 15 years in gaol. Observers from DFG-VK were present, and rallied outside the court. The trial is ongoing.

German Peace Society – United Antimilitarists – State Associations of Berlin, North Rhine Westphalia and Hesse, and Connection e.V.

Visit www.Connection-eV.org/article-2228 for further information on this story.

The case brought against the Ukrainian journalist and conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba continued today in Ivano-Frankivsk. It was the first day on which the hearing was observed by a delegation of antimilitarist organisations from Germany. Mr Kotsaba, aged 49, has been held in detention ever since he was arrested almost a year ago on charges of treason and obstructing the military. If sentenced, he faces 15 years in jail.

In the trial of Vitaliy Shalaiko, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Ukraine’s high court has affirmed the right of conscientious objectors to refuse to be drafted to the army even in times of war. COs will be allowed to do alternative service instead of being drafted. Also in the Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko has declared that the age of conscription will be increased from 18 to 20, and that the conscripts will not be required to fight in Anti-Terrorist Operation zones. He added that the army would move towards having more contracted soldiers.  

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