The recent appointment in Ukraine of Oksen Lisovyi as Minister of Education and Science has raised the very harsh reaction of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, which has sent an in-depth report to UNESCO; this report gives a troubling view of the militarization of culture in Ukraine.

Indeed, in a video dated October 14, 2022, the new minister says Ukrainians must learn to live with war forever: “This war is not a one-day war. We will have it for a long time…I have been waiting for this war all my life. I knew its time would come and I was afraid that a minority would go to the front (as has happened in the past). That is why, despite the huge number of casualties, the pain of tens of thousands of families, the destruction and losses, I am happy.”

“Oksen Lisovyi is the opposite of everything an education and science minister should be,” says Yurii Sheliazhenko, Ukrainian nonviolent movement contact person, conscientious objector and university professor.” He is not a civilian professional of unquestionable integrity with a plan and an attitude to build a peaceful future based on knowledge, or at least to give students, teachers and scholars a space to hope, trust and contribute to a better future… He is not an academic but rather a soldier… He makes no secret of his intentions to turn education into a weapon, to teach all Ukrainians to coexist and participate in an endless war, to make combat skills part of the compulsory school curriculum without exception for conscientious objectors, and to involve young people in the development of military technologies.”

The Ukrainian Pacifist Movement’s complaint goes on to call for Lisovyi’s dismissal not only from his position as minister, but also from the leadership of Ukraine’s Junior Academy of Sciences, which he retained even while volunteering in the war. “Lisovyi’s militaristic public image, his stated desire to enlist young students in the army and to build a ‘society of combatants’ is in no way consistent with the fact that the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine is a center of scientific education under the auspices of UNESCO – an anti-war cultural organization whose task is to prevent wars and create defenses of peace in human minds.”

Under his leadership, Sheliazhenko again denounces, the Academy instead “works for the military-industrial complex, supports and aids the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and makes anyone who dares to criticize the Ukrainian military or NATO be perceived as ‘enemies’ or ‘traitors.'” Lisovyi should be removed, because “only civilian professionals of unquestionable integrity have the moral right to administer scientific and educational institutions so that future generations learn to live without war.”

“The values of the culture of peace and nonviolence,” the report adds, “and academic integrity have fundamental significance for education and science…The culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes, traditions, and ways of behavior and lifestyles based on respect for life, rejection of violence, and the promotion and practice of nonviolence through education, dialogue and cooperation, as stated in Article 1 of the Declaration on the Culture of Peace (United Nations, 1999).

So one wonders what interests are behind military aid to Ukraine today and to whom such aid really ends up. What are the real goals? To end the war as soon as possible or to continue it indefinitely?

Worrisome in this regard is the militaristic culture that is also taking hold in our country, where army meetings in first and second-grade schools and student internships in barracks have been proliferating for some years now. With what goals, if not to promote a militarist and war-mongering culture and encourage the enlistment of volunteers?

War is a crime against humanity.

Let us take Peace into our own hands because our future depends on the choices we make today.