Protect Ukrainian peaceful protestors

Members and partners of the Human Rights House Network condemn in the strongest terms the excessive use of force by Ukrainian authorities to disperse peaceful demonstrations, following the refusal by Ukraine to sign the European Union association agreement.

In their joint letter [download on the right], member and partner NGOs of the Human Rights House Network (HRHN) also call upon President Viktor Yanukovych to immediately revoke measures aiming at using force against protestors and release all protestors and journalists detained, and ensure that relatives of injured and arrested protestors and journalists were informed of their situation.

The 29-30 November 2013 demonstration on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv’s Independence Square, essentially of students and activists, was peaceful until the police used excessive force to disperse it. The NGOs call upon Ukrainian authorities to undertake an independent and transparent investigation on the unlawful dispersal of the peaceful protest, and bring those responsible to justice, as requested by one of the members of the Human Rights House Kyiv, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Another member of the Human Rights House Kyiv, the Information Centre for Human Rights reports that 52 journalists were injured by police forces or by stones and grenades thrown by violent elements. The Centre for Civil Liberties, also a member of the Human Rights House Kyiv, is coordinating the legal aid “EuroMaidanSOS” since Sunday night. The Centre has received around 200 phone calls during the weekend. So far, they have registered 75 complaints related to arrests, beatings and people who were temporarily taken away from the 29-30 November demonstration. This does not include clashes with the police in front of the Presidential Administration Sunday 1 December. The NGOs call upon Ukrainian authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against peaceful protestors and journalists, release and compensate all of them, and ensure that they can carry out their work.

According to “EuroMaidanSOS”, 14 people (youth activists and students apparently) have disappeared, since the police intervention on 29-30 November 2013 at Maidan Nezalezhnosti. “EuroMaidanSOS” and human rights groups have called hospitals but not found information allowing them to trace back to the disappeared people. The NGOs call upon President Viktor Yanukovych to ensure that law enforcement authorities inform relatives of injured and arrested protestors of their situation. Ukraine has the obligation to protect anybody from being a victim of an enforced disappearance, even more so when injured or arrested by law enforcement authorities at a peaceful protest.

In their joint letter, the NGOs call upon you President Viktor Yanukovych to follow advice from Ukrainian civil society, including by:

  • Taking concrete measures aiming at stopping the use of force by police to disperse protestors, even if they occupy governmental buildings, and to publicly acknowledge the right of anybody to peacefully protest and the duty of the State security forces to protect peaceful protestors;[1]
  • Undertaking an independent and transparent investigation on the unlawful dispersal of the peaceful protest of 29-30 November 2013, and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice and do not enjoy impunity;
  • Immediately and unconditionally dropping all charges against peaceful protestors and journalists, release and compensate all of them;
  • Ensuring that law enforcement authorities inform relatives of injured and arrested protestors of their situation, protecting everybody from being a victim of an enforced disappearance, including by immediately investigating the cases of 14 people disappeared following the police intervention on 29-30 November 2013 at Maidan Nezalezhnosti;[2]
  • Ensuring that human rights NGOs and journalists are able to monitor assemblies and report on police violence without fearing retaliation, and that human rights defenders and activists are not charged for participating in peaceful protests.[3]

Signed by:

Human Rights House Kyiv (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Center for Civil Liberties
  • Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation
  • Ukrainian Helsinki Human rights Union
  • Human Rights Information Center
  • Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
  • Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement (Association UMDPL)

Azerbaijan Human Rights House (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Women’s Association for Rational Development
  • Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety
  • Society for Humanitarian Research
  • Media Rights Institute
  • Association for the Protection of Women’s Rights in Azerbaijan after D. Aliyeva
  • Legal Education Society
  • Azerbaijan Lawyers Association
  • Public Union of   Democracy and Human Rights Resource Centre

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House in exile, Vilnius

Human Rights House Belgrade (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
  • Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM)
  • Belgrade Centre for Human Rights

Human Rights House Sarajevo (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Association Transitional Justice Accountability and Remembrance in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Renesansa
  • Serbian Civic Council

Human Rights House Tbilisi (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Article 42 of the Constitution
  • Caucasian Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Studies
  • Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
  • Human Rights Centre
  • Union Sapari – Family without Violence

Human Rights House Oslo (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Human Rights House Foundation
  • Health and Human Rights Info
  • Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Human Rights House Voronezh (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Charitable Foundation
  • Civic Initiatives Development Center
  • Confederation of Free Labor
  • For Ecological and Social Justice
  • Free University
  • Golos
  • Interregional Trade Union of Literary Men
  • Lawyers for labor rights
  • Memorial
  • Ms. Olga Gnezdilova
  • Soldiers Mothers of Russia
  • Voronezh Journalist Club
  • Voronezh-Chernozemie
  • Youth Human Rights Movement

Human Rights House Yerevan (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Armenian Helsinki Association
  • Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Vanadzor
  • Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO
  • Socioscope
  • Shahkhatun
  • Journalists’ Club “Asparez” NGO
  • Jurists against Torture

Human Rights House Zagreb (on behalf of the following NGOs):

  • Association for Promotion of Equal Opportunities for People with Disabilities
  • B.a.B.e. – Be active, Be emancipated
  • Centre for Peace Studies
  • Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past
  • GOLJP – Civic Committee for Human Rights
  • Svitanje – Association for Protection and Promotion of Mental Health

Election Monitoring and Education Center, Azerbaijan

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland

Human Rights Club, Azerbaijan

Human Rights Network Uganda (HURINET-U)

Index on Censorship, United Kingdom

Institute for Peace and  Democracy, Azerbaijan

Rafto Foundation, Norway

Woman Crisis Center, Azerbaijan


[1] In line with paragraph 7 of the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 22/10 on peaceful protests of 21 March 2013.

[2] In line with paragraph 2 of the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 22/10 on peaceful protests of 21 March 2013.

[3] In line with paragraph 6 of the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 22/6 on protection of human rights defenders of 21 March 2013.

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