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Ukraine

    November 23, 2019

    Transgender rights activists were able to hold a march on November 23 in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. Police officers successfully protected the event, known as Trans March, allowing up to one hundred activists to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. We believe that the actions taken by Amnesty activists as a result of an Amnesty Urgent Action as well as advocacy by Amnesty Ukraine contributed significantly towards ensuring the protection of the 2019 Trans March. Organizers of the Trans March have thanked activists for their support.

    The successful protection of the Trans March comes in striking contrast to a similar event in 2018, when police failed to protect participants, did not take action against members of violent groups who attacked the march, and instead forced transgender rights activists into a nearby metro station effectively terminating their peaceful assembly.

    November 22, 2019

    Amnesty International representatives are attending the March and are available for interview

    The Ukrainian authorities must ensure the safety and security of all participants in the Trans March taking place in Kyiv tomorrow, Amnesty International said, warning that participants are at serious risk of violent attacks. In 2018 the police failed to protect participants in a similar peaceful rally from violent groups who hurled abuse and threw smoke grenades.

    “Last year the Ukrainian police showed inexcusable inaction in the face of homophobic and transphobic attacks. Groups advocating hatred and discrimination took full advantage of the police’s failure and subjected peaceful marchers to severe abuse,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty International Ukraine’s Director.

    September 19, 2019

    Film director Oleg Sentsov, who was released on the 7th of September as part of a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia, has thanked activists from Amnesty International for writing letters of support during his time in the remand centre and the penal colony.  Sentsov, who was arrested in 2014 and whose release was achieved through the many efforts of Amnesty International and other human rights organisations, gave a press conference alongside Alexander Kolchenko in Kiev.

    “Of course, I received many letters from Amnesty International. Thank you very much”, said Sentsov. According to him, the activists from Amnesty have contributed greatly to the international campaign for his release.

    August 09, 2019

    Vitalina Koval, one of the human rights defenders featured in Write for Rights 2018 is an LGBTI advocate who was met with violence on International Women's Day. She posted this note to her Facebook page after taking home her letters from Amnesty supporters worldwide: 

    "'Rebel! Love! Don't give up your rights!' – is the kind of messages I receive from all over the world. Yesterday I received all the Amnesty International's Write for Rights letters and I am reading them today. Thank you Amnesty International Ukraine for collecting and delivering them and for everything!

    March 27, 2019

    Responding to news that Russian security forces in occupied Crimea have conducted extensive searches and detained ethnic community Crimean Tatars, Oksana Pokalchuk, Amnesty International Ukraine’s Executive Director, said:

    “The crackdown on the Crimean Tatar community, whose members are regarded as disloyal to the de facto Russian authorities, has continued unabated for five years.

    “The Russian authorities will use any means to suppress any dissent, real or perceived, casting their net wide to target the Crimean Tatar community and silence dissenting voices. The latest crackdown is one of the biggest acts of brazen intimidation of the whole community in recent months.”

    According to the de facto Crimean Directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the law enforcement agents conducted searches and detentions to investigate the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a religious group banned in Russia as “terrorist” but operating lawfully in Ukraine.

    Background

    June 21, 2018

    Vitalina Koval, a 28-year-old LGBTI and women’s rights activist—and a central figure in the LGBTI community in Ukraine—has been attacked, harassed, and is in need of protection.

    March 14, 2018

    In response to the recent attacks on women rights activists and ahead of the expected trial of one of those activists, Olena Shevchenko, on Thursday, Amnesty International Ukraine’s Director, Oksana Pokalchuk, said:

    “By prosecuting Olena Shevchenko, the Ukrainian authorities have underscored just how far they are willing to pander to the far-right groups whose threats and violence marred International Women’s Day protests across the country".

    “The ugly scenes we saw in court once again prove that the Ukrainian authorities are failing to protect women rights activists from far-right violence, whether coming from organised movements, informal networks or individuals. It’s giving rise to a deeply troubling situation where radicals believe they can assault, threaten and humiliate women with total impunity.”

    Background

    This year in Ukraine, the Women’s Marches on International Women’s Day were marred by extreme right-wing violence against peaceful demonstrators. The attacks took place during and following the demonstrations in Kyiv, Lviv and Uzhgorod.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    September 27, 2017

    Today’s conviction of Ilmi Umerov, a prominent critic of the Russian occupation and leader of the Crimean Tatar people, is the latest encroachment on fundamental rights and freedoms on the peninsula, and must be immediately quashed, said Amnesty International. Ilmi Umerov was sentenced by a de facto court in Crimea this morning to two years in a penal colony.

    Last week, the same court handed Ukrainian journalist Mykola Semena a two and a half year suspended prison sentence. Both men stood accused of threatening territorial integrity of the Russian Federation on account of their public opposition to the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea.

    “The sentencing of Ilmi Umerov, who is 60 and has Parkinson’s disease, marks yet another stage in the de facto government’s lengthy persecution of him. His imprisonment follows a series of politically-motivated trials, arbitrary arrests and intimidation against critics of Russian authorities in Crimea. It is a clear violation of freedom of expression,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Director of Amnesty International Ukraine.

    September 11, 2017

    Akhtem Chiygoz, a Crimean Tatar leader should be immediately released, said Amnesty International today as he was handed an eight-year sentence following a 13 month long sham trial.

    “The unfair trial of Akhtem Chiygoz tops a wave of spurious and demonstrably false criminal and administrative cases instigated by the occupying Russian authorities against members of the Crimean Tatar community. It epitomizes the ongoing persecution of these activists whose only ‘crime’ is to vocally oppose Crimea’s annexation by Russia,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Director for Amnesty International in Ukraine.

    May 12, 2017

    The Grand Finale of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv on 13 May is a key opportunity to shine a light on Ukraine’s outstanding human rights concerns, Amnesty International said.

    “Millions of people across the world will revel in this dazzling music event which is associated with the values of peace, democracy, tolerance and human rights solidarity. While Kyiv is preparing for its big event on Saturday, it is crucial to keep in mind the pressing human rights issues that are being swept under the carpet. The Ukrainian authorities have a chance to demonstrate to the world their commitment to addressing these issues and to act for positive change,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, Director of Amnesty International Ukraine.

    Amnesty International spokespeople are available for interview on the human rights situation in Ukraine, including:

    • Discrimination against LGBTIQ people across Ukraine. Despite the first-ever successful and violence-free Pride event in Kyiv last year, other parts of the country see ongoing discrimination and hate crimes.

    August 30, 2016

    “Thank you [Amnesty International] for the work that you are doing. I didn't believe I can get justice in this country. I thought I'll never be free and that one day they will just lead me out and shoot me. It is so great to see my family again.” Dmytro Koroliov 

    Former inmates of a secret detention facility in Kharkiv, Ukraine, have been released – thanks to pressure from Amnesty and its supporters.

    The release of Dmytro (pictured above with his mother Iryna Koroliova) and 12 others recently followed concerted pressure from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. 

    In July, our teams flew to Kyiv to meet the Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoly Matios as we published a joint report, “You Don’t Exist. Arbitrary Detentions, Enforced Disappearances and Torture in Eastern Ukraine”. 

    August 29, 2016

    Fresh details of secret detention by the Ukrainian authorities have emerged following the release of 13 people from a Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) compound in Kharkiv, said Amnesty InternationaI and Human Rights Watch today.

    The release comes after Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch exposed the use of torture and secret detention by both Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian separatists during the conflict in eastern Ukraine in a joint report “‘You Don’t Exist.’ Arbitrary Detentions, Enforced Disappearances, and Torture in Eastern Ukraine” published on 21 July.

    The organizations have now written to the Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine with fresh details of secret detention in Ukraine including detailed testimony from some of those released, as well as the details of five who are still being secretly detained in the compound.

    July 21, 2016

    Both the Ukrainian government authorities and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine are holding civilians in prolonged arbitrary, and sometimes secret detention and torturing  them, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in a joint report released today.

    The report “‘You Don’t Exist.’ Arbitrary Detentions, Enforced Disappearances, and Torture in Eastern Ukraine,” is based on interviews with 40 victims of abuses, their family members, witnesses, victims’ lawyers, and other sources. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented nine cases of arbitrary, prolonged detention of civilians by the Ukrainian authorities, including some cases of enforced disappearances, in informal detention sites and nine cases of arbitrary, prolonged detention of civilians by Russia-backed separatists. Most of the cases detailed in the report took place in 2015 and the first half of 2016. 

    July 20, 2016

    This morning’s killing of prominent journalist Pavel Sheremet by a car bomb in central Kyiv is a reprehensible act that has sent a shockwave for freedom of expression in Ukraine, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said.

    Pavel Sheremet, who writes for the country’s top internet news site Ukrayinska Pravda, was driving to work when his car exploded at 7.45 a.m.

    “This attack on a journalist is a heinous crime and the ultimate violation of the freedom to expression. Pavel Sheremet's killing must be thoroughly, impartially and independently investigated and those who are responsible must be brought to justice in a fair trial,” says Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International. “We call for better protection of journalists in Ukraine that has sad record of violence committed against media workers.”

    Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Khatiya Dekanoidze, head of Ukraine’s National Police has said she will personally supervise the investigation.

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