Responding to news that President Vladimir Putin has ordered “peacekeeping operations” to the so called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine, Daniel Balson, Europe and Central Asia Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA said:
“It is abundantly clear the human costs of a full-blown conflict will be devastating to the people of Ukraine. U.S. officials have already recognized this, and Amnesty International has repeatedly stressed the real and immediate threat that an escalation of violence entails for civilians in Ukraine.
“We continue to urge the State Department to take further steps to protect the human rights of Ukrainians at greatest risk. This includes individuals who may face retaliation – such as Ukrainian journalists, political activists, and rights advocates residing in territories that may fall under control of the Russian government – as well as minority groups that have been singled out for abuses by the Kremlin. The State Department must also work with international partners to institute mechanisms to monitor human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law that may arise in the event of further escalation of the conflict.
“Above all, the human cost of potential conflict must be mitigated at every possible step.”
Amnesty International has long documented human rights abuses in territories under Russian occupation and where the Russian military has intervened abroad. In Georgia, the Kremlin’s “borderization” policy has separated rural Georgians from their sources of income and their places of worship. In Syria, Russian military attacks have killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed vital civilian sites including schools, hospitals, and homes.
In Ukraine itself, Russian authorities have stamped out virtually all forms of free expression in the Crimean Peninsula; human rights activists and journalists are routinely pursued and subjected to enforced disappearance and politically-motivated trials. Last week, a prosecutor in occupied Crimea asked a court to jail journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko for 11 years. Mr. Yesypenko, a journalist for the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty service, was initially detained in March 2021.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA URGES THE STATE DEPARTMENT TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS IN UKRAINE AS THE RISK OF FURTHER CONFLICT WITH RUSSIA GROWS (Amnesty International USA Advocacy Letter; February 16, 2022)
Contact: Gabby Arias, [email protected]