Manifesto in support of conscientious objection and desertion in Russia and Ukraine

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We are former participants in the antimilitarist campaign that took place at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st. We fought against  Compulsory Military Service and Alternative Community Service in the Kingdom of Spain. Thousands of us, supported by millions of others, formed an unprecedented popular movement that won the right to conscientious objection and achieved the abolition of the “mili”, a shameful form of slavery. This disobedient and anti-patriarchal community faced conscription, court trials, persecution and jail. This community stayed together thanks to the mutual support of its members and, to a great extent, the struggle of antimilitarist women.  We fought yesterday and we fight again today. Today, like then, we demand disobedience to war and a humanity free of authoritarianism and armies. We fight against all types of injustice which are the result of war and to eliminate their causes. 

Whilst states decorate the cruelty of war with their patriotic propaganda, we insist on the universal right to stay away from weapons and to let people act of their own accord. Nobody should be forced to take sides in the slaughter. 

The Ukrainian Government has set up mandatory conscription for 18- to 60-year-old males. This forces the thousands of men who reject combat into clandestinity and allows for their arrest by para-military bands at road controls and city exits.  The Russian Government deceives and intimidates its soldiers so they do not quit the army lines. The European Union denies political asylum to deserters from both sides. It sends weapons to the conflict area and announces an increase in its military budget. The war accelerates the global energy and environmental crisis, further threatening the economy of vulnerable people and impoverished countries. 

We refuse to obey unquestioningly. We refuse to silently sympathise with the victims of war. We reject the model of masculinity based on the figure and myth of the warrior. We reject the patriarchal colonisation of our minds and bodies. We have no wish to become harmful, dangerous people capable of the worst acts of humiliation and abuse. We have no wish to be complicit in sexual violence against women of all ages, nor in the murder of the young, elderly and infirm. Solutions engendering more violence only perpetuate domination. 

We DEMAND that the Russian invasion be stopped and that occupying forces be withdrawn. The inhabitants of all areas of the Ukraine must be free to decide their futures and the rights of all minorities must be protected. 

We DEMAND that the European Union, particularly the Kingdom of Spain, accepts the asylum requests of those who desert from war or escape from mandatory conscription, in compliance with the universal right to conscientious objection. Killing in war is not a “civic duty”. 

We DEMAND that the European Union gives unrestricted asylum to all those who flee any war on earth. We reject the racism and cruelty of borders. 

We DEMAND that no more NATO troops or weapons be sent to the area, that tax havens where European oligarchies and arms industries launder their profits be dismantled and the conflict demilitarised. Previous war crimes on either side do not justify yet another bloody intervention. Adding fuel to the fire is not a solution.

We ENCOURAGE civilians from territories at war to resist social hatred and to assist deserters and soldiers who refuse to take part in the killing. 

We SUPPORT those in Russia and Ukraine who organise themselves in favour of peace, fight without resorting to violence, practise civil disobedience and nonviolent defence and suffer political repression for their opposition to war; particularly antimilitarist and feminist groups from those lands. 

We CALL FOR the creation of a European support network for pacifists and deserters who disobey the war in Ukraine and thus suffer political persecution. 

We shall DISOBEY Spanish and European law once and again to welcome Russian and Ukrainian pacifists and deserters into our homes.

To end all wars is to end the dictatorship of the capitalist economic system which provokes them and benefits from them. The war in Ukraine dates back to 2014. Those who believe that prolonging it could be advantageous are wrong. Making the war last will only bring about more suffering and give succour to fascism in all parts of the world.

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