Ukraine: Stop the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters

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Last Update 12 December 2013

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As the crisis in Ukraine continues, FIDH calls on Ukrainian authorities to immediately stop the disproportionate use of force against peaceful protesters. FIDH also calls for an independent mission of inquiry that will shed light on the violence perpetrated against protesters and urges the government and the opposition to engage in a constructive dialogue.

At the night of 10/11 December the special forces of Ukrainian police tried to dispel the protests in Kiev. They forcibly entered the main square Maidan, where an estimated thousand of protesters gathered behind barricades. The police destroyed and cleared the barricades. According to the Kiev City State Administration, following these events 44 people sought medical help and 20 were hospitalised.

’This excessive use of force is reprehensible and must stop immediately’, said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. ’In an atmosphere of growing distrust towards the government and the police, the authorities and the opposition must start a constructive dialogue without any further delay’, he added.

’It is crucial to investigate the recent actions of the police, notably the ’Berkut’ special forces, in order to obtain justice for the victims of violence and to reinstate a climate of trust’, added Tolekan Ismailova, FIDH Vice-President. ’The government must listen to the voice of the Ukrainian people’, she added.

On 11 December the police used force for the second time since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine that started on 21 November 2013, when the President Viktor Yanukovych announced his decision not to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union. Soon after, protesters gathered in Kiev as well as in a number of other cities around Ukraine. They demanded association with the EU and protested against the pressure on Ukraine exercised by Russia in this respect.

On Saturday 30 November, at 4 am, ’Berkut’ special forces attacked protesters who peacefully gathered at the so-called ’Euromaidan’ in Kiev. This unit used truncheons, tear gas and flash grenades. As a result, according the administration of Kiev, 165 protesters and journalists were injured and 109 of them were hospitalised. According to the EuroMaidan SOS community, five remain missing.

President Yanukovych stated he was ’outraged’ by the violence on 30 November. Rallied by the opposition, a much greater number of protesters returned to the Maidan and demanded that the government and the president resign.

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