Target: Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov
Goal: Demand Crimean authorities stop abduction and abuse of journalists and activists
Self-defense units in Crimea are becoming increasingly responsible for the abduction and abuse of journalists and activists. Crimean authorities are allowing these illegal and unidentified self-defense units free reign to commit crimes against human rights activists and local and international journalists — offenses that go largely unpunished or ignored. Urge Crimean authorities to reign in these hateful bands of human rights violators.
Attacked, harassed and even abducted, these self-defense units, comprised of former policemen, army veteran officers and Afghan war veterans, are responsible for conducting violent demonstrations, unlawfully searching vehicles and people at the Crimean border, and harassing citizens for no reason at all.
Although Ukrainian law allows citizens to participate in promoting and maintaining law and order without the use of firearms, these self-defense units have been known to carry deadly weapons — including AK-47s and other automatic weapons.
The groups are also abducting innocent activists and attacking journalists. Since the beginning of its reign, more than six well-known activists have ‘disappeared.’ As for journalists, four have reported violent mistreatment to Human Rights Watch; including Anton Goloborod’ko, a journalist for a Ukrainian online newspaper, who was strangled with his press ID and taunted with an automatic weapon.
The Crimean police and military have an obligation to protect its people’s liberties and security from the wrath of these savage self-defense units. Demand that Crimean authorities end the crimes committed by these paramilitary groups.
Dear Sergey Aksyonov,
It has come to my attention that self-defense units have been running rampant across Crimea — committing crimes, abducting human rights activists, attacking and harassing journalists and intimidating innocent citizens. Crimean authorities have failed to protect its people’s liberties and allowed these politically extremist vigilantes to override jurisdictions and violate the law.
These self-defense units act as though they are above the Crimean authorities. Shamefully, the Crimean authorities have acted apathetically and out of fear — allowing these paramilitary groups the freedom to unlawfully conduct searches, disperse violent demonstrations and even overrun police offices.
This unfortunate discrepancy of power must end before things get out of hand. It is said that more than 11,000 men have signed up as members of self-defense units. Crimean authorities have also shown to have little to no coordination with or control of these units either. With that being said, it is only a matter of time before these sensationalists pose a real threat to the livelihoods of the Crimean people.
I urge you to launch an investigation into the crimes committed by these self-defense units — especially the situations involving activists who’ve ‘disappeared.’ Crimean authorities should be protecting its people, not caving to the injustices of criminals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mstyslav Chernov via wikimedia