A Sacred Duty

By Yurii Sheliazhenko, for Pax Scotia, the newsletter of Pax Christi Scotland, March 24, 2022

Three months ago, when the world celebrated Human Rights Day at the conference organized by National University Odessa Law Academy, I spoke about violations of human right to conscientious objection to military service in Ukraine.

I told about lack of access to alternative service, bureaucratic obstacles and extortion of bribes, discriminatory demands of membership in religious organizations approved by the government, and non-compliance of Ukraine with recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee. My presentation was received well; other participants shared their experience of countering arbitrary detention of conscripts.

And then professor Vasyl Kostytsky, former MP, made a remark that it is commonly said that service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine is a sacred duty of every man.

I knew that professor is a dedicated Christian, so I replied to him that I can’t remember any such sacred duty among the Ten Commandments. On the contrary, I recall it is said, “you shall not kill.”

This exchange came to my mind now, when my home in Kyiv is shaken by explosions of Russian shells nearby and air raid warning sirens several times day and night remind that death is flying around.

After the Russian invasion to Ukraine, martial law was proclaimed and all men in age from 18 to 60 were called to take arms and prohibited from leaving Ukraine. You need permission from the military to stay in a hotel, and you risk to be conscripted when passing every checkpoint.

Ukrainian government neglects human right to refuse to kill, and so does the Russian government sending conscripts to death and lying it doesn’t.

I admire those Russians who massively protested against warmongering lies and against the war, and I am ashamed that Ukrainian people failed to insist on nonviolent settlement during eight years of war between the government and separatists and even now are supporting war effort more than peace talks.

And still I believe that everyone, including the government, shall not kill. War is a crime against humanity; I am, therefore, determined not to support any kind of war, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war. If all people will refuse to kill, no war will ever happen.

4 Responses

  1. Thanks for the comments and prompts. At the top of the piece is a photo of a stone tablet relating to CO’s. Can you direct me to the location of the plaque, it’s origin, and it’s sponsoring organization? I would very much like to obtain a clear photo. Thanks.

  2. Vielen Dank, besonders auch dafür, dass Sie diesem Professor widersprochen haben. Zu morden kann niemals eine heilige Pflicht sein!
    Lüge, Hetze und Krieg müssen aufhören. Überall!

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