THE PEACE PLEDGE UNION, Britain’s leading pacifist organisation called today on Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman to offer asylum to Russians who refuse to be part of the war in Ukraine.

The call comes as International Conscientious Objectors’ Day (15 May) is marked around the world. The day is expected to see protests in countries that maintain military conscription, including Russia, Israel, Colombia and Finland.

A message from Belarusian peace activist Olga Karach will be played at a ceremony in London at 1.00pm today to mark the day. It is open to anyone to join either in person or online.

Since the invasion of Ukraine began, calls to offer asylum to Russian objectors have been backed by MPs including Labour’s Lloyd Russell Moyle and the SNP’s Tommy Sheppard.

The PPU, which condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine as soon as it began, works with the Movement of Conscientious Objectors in Russia as well as the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement. All these organisations are part of War Resisters’ International.

The PPU applauds the hundreds of Russian soldiers who have already faced trial for refusing to fight, and many others who face pressure and coercion when they speak out. Numbers of conscientious objectors in Belarus are reportedly growing.

The PPU has also expressed dismay that a number of Ukrainian pacifists have been sentenced to prison for refusing to take up arms.

Today’s London-based ceremony will see white flowers laid on the Conscientious Objectors’ Memorial Stone in Tavistock Square as the names of a sample of objectors from around the world are read out. It is organised by a collection of peace and human rights groups, including the PPU.

The day will also be marked with ceremonies and other events in places including Edinburgh, Brighton, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Wokingham.

Geoff Tibbs of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) said: Hundreds of Russian soldiers are questioning orders or refusing to fight. They face threats of violence and psychological abuse. We are calling on Sunak and his ministers to give them the practical help they need and offer them asylum. Rather than pouring fuel on the flames by sending more and more weapons, the government should be supporting those resisting war and welcoming conscientious objectors in the UK.”

* Source: Peace Pledge Union