Guilty of militarization of Crimean children: human rights activists publish a list

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Human rights organizations Crimean Human Rights Group, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and ZMINA jointly with the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea presented a list of persons involved in the militarization of educational environment in Crimea and destruction of Ukrainian identity in Crimean children.

This list includes 12 people: from the so-called Crimean education ministers to school teachers. Among them are “ex-minister of education, science and youth of the Republic of Crimea” Natalia Goncharova, “head of the Department of Education of the Yalta City Administration” Renard Kutkovsky, “director of the Department of Education and Science of Sevastopol” Olena Bohomolova and others.

According to authors of the research, this list was compiled to draw attention to the mass violations of children’s rights in the occupied peninsula and to prevent future abuses. The “patriotic upbringing practices” of the listed persons form in the minds of Crimean children the identity of a “universal Russian citizen”, the cult of war, violence, perception of Ukraine and Western countries as enemies, as well as tolerate the crimes of Soviet power and distort Ukrainian history facts.

Olena Khalimon, head of the Reintegration and De-occupation Service of the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, noted that children are being involved in the militarization process starting from kindergartens and ending with schools and higher education establishments.

We do not say that all teachers or educators on the occupied peninsula are traitors or should be held accountable. However, those, who destroy and militarize the minds of children, must be known and understand that they will be held accountable,” Khalimon commented.

Volodymyr Chekryhin, deputy chairperson of the Crimean Human Rights Group, added that the Crimean school system promotes service in the Russian army. Moreover, millions of rubles from the state budget are spent to promote this idea. The human rights activist believes that such propaganda, especially when it is aimed at children under 15 who do not have critical thinking yet, is actually a form of coercion to further service in the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

Such actions of the occupier should be considered as a war crime from the point of view of international humanitarian law and as a violation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Chekryhin said.

The situation in the occupied Crimea must be considered in the context of Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which provides for the preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance and equality.

Fostering a positive attitude towards the army and military formations, persuading children and young people to serve in the army of the occupying power violates this basic right enshrined in the international document ratified by Russia back in 1993,” explained Valentyna Potapova, education expert at the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.

The Ukrainian authorities respond to the violations. The Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol documents facts of military propaganda among children and monitors the state of education on the temporarily occupied peninsula.

Olha Pirohova, prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, said that one of the organizers of the military-patriotic upbringing of Crimean children will soon be served with a notice of charges of propaganda which promotes service in the army of the occupying power among the civilian population.

We have also identified a number of institutions and organizations in Crimea that receive funding and equipment from the Russian Federation, coordinate programs of military-patriotic upbringing of children and engage in propaganda,” Pirohova added.

Further on, the list of persons involved in the militarization of Crimean education will be used in criminal proceedings and, along with other evidence, will serve as a basis for promoting imposition of new sanctions on persons involved in commission of flagrant human rights violations in the occupied Crimea.

Watch the presentation of the study here.