By Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, July 13, 2023
Tired of Pentagon-funded murder-glorifying violence-normalizing video games?
Here’s something different from World BEYOND War Board Member in Ukraine Yurii Sheliazhenko:
No To War: The Game
Evade the meat grinder of war profiteers!
Play here: https://notowar.itch.io/
Your mission: quit the corruption game and survive!
You are a young pacifist from Odesa, a city in Ukraine. After the brutal Russian invasion you call for nonviolent resistance and diplomacy instead of bloodshed. People think you are crazy or a traitor, because the media has told them to hate pacifists. Your government plans to wage war indefinitely until all invaders are killed. All men in the country are subjects to conscription, even against their will, for armed defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Borders are closed: nobody should escape military duty. Scared by conscription, many of your peers sit home because people get draft cards mostly in the streets. It is not an option for you, though, because you must sustain your family.
You are deprived of your right to refuse to kill. You will be treated as cannon fodder, unless you evade a draft. When you meet recruiters with a draft card, you must pay for deferral or they will stuff you into their van and transport you to a frontline military unit for certain death. You are caught in a vicious cycle of corruption, forced to hand over almost all your humble earnings to greedy and cruel military recruiters all the time. The only way to escape from war profiteers is to buy on the shadow market a relocation scheme, get smuggled across the border, and start a new peaceful life in a new place.
How to Play:
- movement: ← → ↑ ↓
- Pause: <space>
- Touch the screen to move on smartphone or tablet.
- Deferral: $ 3,000.
- Relocation: $ 10,000.
This game reflects in satirical form a real story of a military commissar of Odesa, local high officer in charge of recruitment, and his conscription methods. When he was in charge, young people were abducted on the streets, stuffed into vans (one of which was even camouflaged as an ambulance) by teams of brute recruiters and transported to military units. Some of his underlings and accomplice military medics were arrested for extortion of bribes for exemptions or deferrals from numerous draft evaders. Journalistic investigation revealed that a wife of the military commissar bought a luxury villa in Spain, and after the scandal President Zelensky ordered to him fired. Harsh and rotten conscription enforcement is widespread in Ukraine.
Despite the apparent popularity of the army and war effort in Ukraine (unsurprising, because of the cruelty of Russian invaders), many people don’t want to die for the Fatherland. They don’t dare to doubt a notion of war propaganda that mass killing of enemies at the battlefield is a best way of self-defense. But they think, frequently with a bit of naïve egotism, that the place where they could be most useful for their country is in the rear of the army and that it is the job of someone else (the professionals, the poor, the unbelievers, the illiterate, the men, etc.) to defend the country with a gun.
There are a few consistent pacifists ready for nonviolent and selfless resistance to war and militarism. They refuse to support any kind of war, both aggressive and defensive, and strive for abolition of all causes of war, since their conscience demands to cherish the sanctity of life and forbids to tolerate killing of innocents, inevitable during any war. Consistent pacifists practice, learn and teach nonviolent way of life as their duty for common good and in hope that once in the world where everyone refuse to kill there will be no wars.
In Ukraine the army denies human right to conscientious objection to military service in time of war, contrary to the country’s obligations under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Conscientious objectors risk years in prison as punishment for draft evasion or desertion; there are attempts to challenge such policies in courts, but results are still uncertain and mostly judges and lawyers are skeptical. It is hard to advocate or even discuss publicly the right to refuse to kill: like in Russia, in Ukraine it is taboo from Soviet time (when death penalty for draft evasion during war was practiced) till today. If people have any doubts in official propaganda of war and infallibility of army, they fear to speak up frankly because such perceived lack of patriotism causes hateful and even violent reactions of omnipresent radicals, it makes you associated with the enemy and entails serious problems. Besides, freedoms of speech and assembly are restricted due to martial law (though radicals behave like they above the law).
This game is a part of the educational work of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement advocating human right to conscientious objection to military service, raising awareness of human rights violations and corruption related to conscription in Ukraine.
Here’s a video of the game being played: