In the war against the Russia, Ukraine must preserve the diversity of society, – human rights defenders

The diversity of Ukrainian society is an important asset that strengthens the stability of our nation. That is why it is worth nurturing and protecting it despite the aggression of the Russian Federation, which, in particular, is going to destroy the foundations of the existence of the Ukrainian people, which is tolerance and mutual respect. This was discussed during a briefing for foreign media held the day before.  

The briefing was organized by the Center for Civil Liberties and the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center as part of the “Item 7” project (“Promoting Social Cohesion in Ukraine”), in partnership with Vostok SOS, with the support of the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative in Ukraine (ABA  ROLI Ukraine).

The participants of the briefing focused on the fact that full-scale Russian aggression has become not just an existential challenge for the Ukrainian nation, but also a “window of opportunity. Because right now it is possible to give an impetus to solve many issues that have been gradually brewing in Ukrainian society. This is the issue of accommodation for forced migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and the restoration of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people, as well as the integration of the Roma community into society, the preservation of the Jewish community, and overcoming discrimination against the LGBT community.”

IDPs need complex support: this includes accommodation (that is, they need new housing) and humanitarian, legal and psychological assistance.  In addition, they need the help of the state in the matter of their integration into new communities,” emphasized Anastasia Horpinchenko, communications manager of Vostok-SOS Charitable Foundation, she has been helping IDPs since 2014.

She also emphasized that the most acute issue for internally displaced persons is the provision of housing. According to her, it should be considered in the long term, because many displaced people will simply have nowhere to return after the liberation of the temporarily occupied territories.

Continuing the topic of the impact of Russian aggression on Ukrainian society, Eskender Bariev, a member of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, head of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, emphasized that Ukrainian citizens are from different ethnic backgrounds. And the genocide by the Russians affects everyone.

Let me remind you that the war against Ukraine began in 2014.  Since that moment, we have been monitoring and documenting human rights violations on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea.  According to the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, 247 people are persecuted for political reasons in Crimea, of which 177 are Crimean Tatars.  Currently, there are 133 political prisoners in prisons, 90 in colonies, 43 of them are in pre-trial detention centers, 120 of them are representatives of indigenous peoples,” he said.

He also added that after February 24, a new wave of persecution by the Russian Federation began in the newly occupied territories, namely the Kherson region and part of the Zaporizhia region, where, in particular, Crimean Tatars and Karaites live.

After February 24, we recorded 197 violent abductions, of which 74 are representatives of indigenous peoples.  On the day of the Crimean Tatar flag, approximately 50 people were abducted, most of them representatives of the Crimean Tatar community. In addition to torture, the occupiers carry out so-called “re-education”, forcing people to say that Putin is the president of the world, and Zelensky is a loser,” added Eskender Bariev, emphasizing that this is by no means a complete list of such violent abductions.

Yosif Zisels, president of the Association of Jewish Public Organizations and Communities of Ukraine, emphasized that the main problem of the Jewish community during the new stage of the Russian-Ukrainian war was the high median age of its representatives, which greatly complicated the evacuation of people from the combat zone. In addition, according to him, the Jewish community proved to be useful not only for its community, but also for the entire political nation, and the Jewish community comprehensively solves the issue of helping its representatives who were forced to leave for Russia.

We take care of families who left for Russia and help them leave for Georgia and other countries, and then return to Ukraine,” he said.

Furthermore, Iulian Kondur, coordinator of the Chirikli Roma Women’s Foundation, speaking about the challenges faced by the Roma community, emphasized that the main issues in the future remain the problems of Roma integration into society.  The issue of having identity documents remains the most painful. Thus, according to him, up to 30,000 Roma do not have documents proving their identity, and this is even more relevant now, because it is “access to humanitarian help, housing.”

According to our estimates, about 100,000 Roma have left their place of residence, 50,000 of them have left for the EU, and there is a tendency to return. In addition, unfortunately, we are forced to state that we have lost ties with the Roma from Russia,” Julian Kondur added.

The representative of the Roma community also emphasized that the inclusion of issues of Roma and other vulnerable groups in the reconstruction plans of the regions affected by hostilities will contribute to solving many important issues of representatives of vulnerable population groups.

Andriy Kravchuk, an advocacy expert of the LGBT human rights center “Nash Svit” (Our World), describing the problems of the LGBT community, noted that the issue of cohesion, mutual respect, and tolerance has become urgent for representatives of Ukrainian society of different orientations.

During the four months of the war, we recorded 48 cases of violations of the rights of representatives of the LGBT community, 29 of them we qualify as “hate crimes”, in 13 cases we dealt with violations by law enforcement officers,” he noted.

We quickly rallied to help and are working in two main directions. The first is providing housing: we have organized shelters for LGBT refugees in western and central Ukraine. The second line of work – we organized a fundraiser to help the Ukrainian army. We serve in the army, we being mobilized. Since the beginning of the war, we have not recorded cases of homophobic behavior in the Ukrainian army,” he emphasized.

Andriy Kravchuk added that representatives of the LGBT community are waiting for the legalization of same-sex partnerships, which will eliminate discrimination in terms of the recognition of relationships and, in particular, regulate the material relations of same-sex couples. The criminalization of hate crimes is important for the representatives of this vulnerable population group.
You can familiarize yourself with a detailed analysis of the situation in which vulnerable groups of the population found themselves after the beginning of the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation in a report.

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