Unacceptable violence against journalists and protestors

Civil Rights Defenders condemns the violence against peaceful protestors and journalists during recent demonstrations in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. The demonstrations, the largest in the country since the Orange Revolution resulted in dozens being wounded.

“It is unacceptable for the authorities to have used force against peaceful demonstrators and journalists. It is contrary to Ukraine’s international commitments to uphold the treaties they are party to. Those responsible must be held accountable for their actions and the authorities must respect freedom of assembly”, said Joanna Kurosz, Program Manager for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Approximately 40 journalists were injured while reporting events across the country. The violence has not deterred people from continuing to take to the streets to show their displeasure with the Ukrainian government.

The protests began after the government of President Viktor Yanukovych announced last week that it will not sign a cooperation agreement with the EU. Instead it opted for closer ties with Russia. The authorities’ response to the protests has been brutal. Early Saturday morning, Berkut, the Ukrainian special forces, attacked the demonstrators who were still on Maidan Square in central Kiev. It was ironically the same location where people gathered in 2004 during the Orange Revolution in protest against electoral fraud, which resulted in new elections.

On Sunday a group of demonstrators clashed with police.

“Violent criminals on both sides should be brought to justice but representatives of the authorities have a particular responsibility to protect human rights”, says Joanna Kurosz.

Civil Rights Defenders strongly condemns the Ukranian authorities actions against journalists and peaceful demonstrators.

Categories: Statements.
Tags: Janukovytj, Kiev, Ukraine, and Violence against journalists.
Regions: Eastern Europe.