U.S. Statement as delivered by Rebecca Wallace
Human Rights Council 36th Session
Geneva, September 26, 2017
Thank you Mr. Vice President.
The United States must, once again, condemn the widespread abuses of human rights by Russian occupation authorities in Crimea and forces in eastern Ukraine. We welcome the continued work of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, and the cooperation between the Mission and the government of Ukraine.
The United States is deeply troubled by the conviction and eight-year sentence handed down earlier this month in Crimea to the Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Akhtem Chiygoz, in connection with baseless charges related to a demonstration that took place before Russia’s occupation even began.
In Russian-occupied Crimea, authorities continue to impose draconian restrictions on members of religious, ethnic, and national minorities as well as to repress visciously any expressions of opposition to the purported annexation of Ukrainian territory. Members of the Crimean Tatar community are systematically terrorized on a massive scale by raids on and detentions at their homes, schools, and mosques; the criminalization of their self-governing body, the Mejlis, as an “extremist” organization; and bans on their peaceful gatherings and celebrations. Targeting of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians and prosecution of those who express pro-Ukrainian sentiment are also more frequent. We are deeply troubled by the case of Volodymyr Balukh, sentenced in August to nearly four years in apparent retaliation for flying the Ukrainian flag.
As the conflict in eastern Ukraine drags on, the human rights situation remains dire in the areas controlled by the forces Russia arms, trains, leads and fights alongside. We are deeply concerned about civilians in detention in these areas, whose number likely exceed 130, and include a number of high-profile cases of individuals arrested in retaliation for their exercise of human rights. We are closely following the egregious cases of imprisoned religion scholar Ihor Kozlovsky, freelance journalist Stanislav Aseyev, and blogger Eduard Nedelayev. We call on Russia and its forces to arrange their release immediately as well as the release of all civilians being held on patently baseless charges.
The United States will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people.