The appeal to the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, PACE and the European Commission was initiated by the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), War Resisters International (WRI), the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) and Connection e.V. Among the signatories to the letter was “Our House”. We were the only organisation representing Belarus.

The letter says that following international human rights standards, there must be no discrimination against conscientious objectors. There must also be no discrimination between groups of conscientious objectors. Furthermore, the right of conscientious objection applies to those who believe that the use of force is justified in some circumstances but not in others.

The letter emphasizes that the right of conscientious objection should be recognized for conscripts, professional soldiers and reservists. The petitioners note that the legal framework for conscientious objection in both Russia and Belarus, as well as in Ukraine, does not comply with international and regional human rights standards. The Human Rights Council has therefore called on States to ‘consider granting asylum to conscientious objectors who have a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin on account of their conscientious objection where there is no provision or no adequate provision for conscientious objection. For them, Article 9 of the European Union Qualification Directive, which provides refugeeprotection law for those who face persecution or punishment for refusing to participate in a conflict contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations, would apply.

The European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe request the European Commission and the Council of Europe to give asylum to Russian and Belarusian military personnel who have evaded or deserted from military service and military action in Ukraine. In addition, European Union states will develop programmes and projects aimed at providing opportunities for training or further education for deserters and draft evaders.

We are pleased that the European Union has received information that there are soldiers in Belarus who do not want to kill Ukrainians simply because Putin and Lukashenko want this. Now such young people will have the right to protection in European countries, to further life without fear of imprisonment or even the death penalty.