#ObjectWarCampaign in Italy: Conscientious objection can undermine war

Report from Rome/Italy

by Mao Valpiana

PEACE IN THE SQUARE. The representatives of the Italian associations belonging to the #Object War Campaign deliver the text of the appeal that collected 50,000 signatures to the embassies of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine

They walked in single file from Termini Station to the embassies of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to deliver three postcards, giant format, with the text of the appeal of the #Object War Campaign: "We ask for full respect for the human right to conscientious objection to military service which is universal and non-derogable". They are the representatives of the Italian associations belonging to the international campaign that collected 50,000 signatures, delivered yesterday – International Day of Conscientious Objection – to the European Commission at a public event in Berlin.

They asked the Russian ambassador to transmit the text directly to Putin "free all illegally detained soldiers who refuse to take part in the violation of international law and recognize the right to conscientious objection for every Russian citizen who exercises it." Equally clear is the message delivered to the Ukrainian embassy for Zelensky: "Withdraw the indictments for conscientious objectors who refuse to take up arms. It restores the right to conscientious objection by applying international standards to all citizens." The European Parliament expressed its opinion on this issue on 16 February 2023 in a resolution that ’calls on Member States to protect and grant asylum to Russians and Belarusians persecuted for speaking out or protesting against the war, as well as to Russian and Belarusian deserters and conscientious objectors’.

It is a pity that MEPs have forgotten about Ukrainian objectors who are tried and imprisoned because the presidential decree on general mobilisation does not provide for any exemption from military service and denies the possibility of performing civilian service. Perhaps they did not want to irritate Zelensky engaged in the European tour to Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain to bring home new defense packages and weapons, while refusing the mediation of the Vatican. Instead, Pope Francis recalled this, exalting the figure of the anti-Nazi objector Franz Jägerstätter who "refused enlistment because he considered the war totally unjustified", and pointed him out as an example to young people.

"Conscientious objection to military service is a human right recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Human Rights Council, while the guidelines of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) define the scenarios in which refugee status is provided for refusal of military service".     says Zaira Zafrana, on behalf of the international networks Ifor, Wri, Ebco, Connection e.V. that ask the European institutions for protection for all objectors and deserters.

Although in Russia and Ukraine the phenomenon is denied and censored, thousands and thousands of young people have chosen this path. They are portrayed as "traitors", enemies of the homeland, cowards, but they are actually the only ones who love their homeland without hating that of others, the only ones of the two sides who already talk to each other, work together and implement peace projects. The representatives of the Italian associations participating in the initiative (Nonviolent Movement, un Ponte per, MIR, Giuristi Democratici, Pax Christi Italia, Pressenza, Centro Studi Sereno Regis, Caritas, Cnesc), then held a press conference at the Senate: "We are here to give our solidarity to the victims of all theaters of armed conflicts and support to those who refuse arms because,     as the Constitution says in Article 11, war must be repudiated."

The Campaign of objection to the war has found an exceptional witness in Carlo Rovelli, a physicist at the center of controversy for his pacifist positions: "To stop the war you must not do it, to cease fire you must not shoot. This is why I support the Nonviolent Movement Campaign: for the legal defense of objectors, for the right to asylum and protection for young Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians who seek refuge in Europe. To the delirium of global military dominance we oppose the logic of peace and collaboration".

Mao Valpiana, Il manifesto: L’obiezione di coscienza può mettere in crisi la guerra. May 2023. https://ilmanifesto.it/lobiezione-di-coscienza-puo-mettere-in-crisi-la-guerra.

Keywords:    ⇒ Italy   ⇒ Russia