Extreme right-wing groups attacking minorities in Ukraine

By agency reporter
June 2, 2018

Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has made the following statement on the situation in Ukraine:

"We call on the Ukrainian authorities to act urgently to protect minority groups, including Roma communities and LGBTI activists, in the wake of a number of serious acts of violence and harassment against them in recent weeks.

"We are aware of at least four attacks against Roma communities since 21 April.

"On the night of 21 April, members of an extreme right-wing group reportedly used rocks and tear gas to force Roma people living in Kyiv’s Lysa Hora neighbourhood to flee, before setting fire to their homes. On 10 May, more than 30 masked men assaulted several Roma families living in temporary shelters in the Lviv region of western Ukraine. Again, they forced the inhabitants – five adults and 10 children, including a two-month-old infant – to leave before setting their homes on fire.

"On 22 May, about 15 assailants set a Roma camp on fire in the Ternopil region of western Ukraine. And last week, on 24 May, in the Kharkiv region, a lawyer representing the families of a person killed and others injured during a 2017 attack on a Roma settlement in Vilshany village was reportedly violently attacked and threatened by a local prosecutor and three men wearing military camouflage. They reportedly beat the lawyer, searched his office and stole money. They also warned him that he would be killed if he did not drop the case.

"To date, no one has been held accountable for any of this violence.

"There have also been attacks against other people advocating for the rights of women and LGBTI individuals, including on 8 March in Lviv and Uzhhorod, on 10 May in Kyiv, and on 19 May in Chernivtsi.

"We urge the Government to pay closer attention to the actions of extreme right-wing groups throughout the country. In a number of cases, they have claimed responsibility for the recent attacks and intimidation against Roma, as well as the LGBTI community, and individuals promoting gender equality. The attacks, coupled with widespread social media posts that may amount to incitement to hatred and hate speech against Roma, the LGBTI community and other minority groups, are indicators of growing intolerance. This should be immediately addressed to prevent further violence against minorities in Ukraine.

"The lack of accountability for attacks against minorities and evictions of Roma in previous years has fuelled an atmosphere of impunity. We urge the Government to demonstrate zero tolerance by publicly condemning such acts, by investigating all attacks against minorities, by bringing perpetrators to account and by guaranteeing the right to non-discrimination and equality."

* OHCHR http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Pages/Home.aspx

[Ekk/6]

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