Target: Viktor Pshonka, Prosecutor General
Goal: Ensure that the basic human rights of detained protesters in Ukraine are respected
Ukraine was just days away from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union when it suddenly halted its preparations, prompting peaceful protests around the country. Riot police have been called in to break up many of these protests, often with excessive violence. Several protesters in Kyiv have been arrested in connection with a recent protest there, and many of their legal rights have been sidestepped in order to keep them in custody.
Nine of the protesters have been detained “on suspicion of organizing violent disorder,” Amnesty International reports. Their initial detention has been extended for at least two months, and if they are convicted they face up to eight years in prison. However, their cases have been fraught with legal problems that judges have skirted or ignored; police testimonies were accepted without question, despite “obvious contradictions and inconsistencies.”
Additionally, protesters were subject to violence from police. One protester, a truck driver who wanted to participate in what he felt were “historic” protests, was savagely beaten and remains in detention. He suffers from broken ribs and a detached retina and is in urgent need of medical attention. Another man, a journalist covering the events who was trying to help injured protesters, was also beaten.
The ability to peacefully express one’s political views is a basic human right. The detained protesters have so far been accused of nothing more than caring deeply about the fate of their country. If they have committed actual crimes, charge them. If not, then Ukraine must let them go. In the meantime, they must have access to legal representation and sufficient medical care. Sign the petition and tell Ukraine to do right by its citizens.
Dear Prosecutor General,
In the aftermath of the December 1 protest in Kyiv, many Ukrainians have been jailed. Although nine of the protesters have been charged with “organizing violent disorder,” there is little evidence to support the accusation. The protest was, by all accounts, a peaceful one, and police testimonies have been inconsistent and contradictory, Amnesty International reports.
At least two other people present at the protest were savagely beaten by riot police. Vladyslav Zagorovko, a 38-year-old truck driver from Brovary, has several broken ribs and a detached retina, among other injuries; Valery Garutz, a reporter assigned to cover the protest, was beaten as he tried to help injured demonstrators.
The nine protesters have been detained for at least two months, but the prosecution, in direct violation of Ukrainian law, failed to provide any reason why bail, house arrest, or other legal options were not acceptable. Furthermore, Vladyslav Zagorovko is in desperate need of surgery.
The peaceful expression of one’s own beliefs is not a crime. Please do right by these protesters–free them as soon as possible if they are not going to be charged with a legitimate, internationally-recognizable crime. In the meantime, I urge you to ensure that they are provided with legal representation, allowed to contact their families, and are granted adequate medical care. I especially urge you to address the injuries of Vladyslav Zagorovko, and to bring to justice those who beat him and Valery Garutz, among others.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: UP9 via Wikimedia Commons