Meeting of human rights defenders of Human Rights House Crimea: ZMINA speaks about Russia’s crimes against activists

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On November 20-24, a global congress of the Human Rights Houses Network took place in Warsaw, gathering more than 40 human rights defenders. ZMINA is a member of the Ukrainian Houses (Chernihiv and Crimea), and during the event the organization presented data on Russia’s war crimes against civil society and shared its experience in supporting and protecting war victims. 

Liudmyla Yankina, head of the civil society protection department at the Human Rights Centre ZMINA, presented the results of monitoring of the threats faced by Ukrainian human rights defenders in the occupied territories and the data on the civil society representatives killed since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. 

The causes of the deaths of activists and volunteers in the war zone were: indiscriminate missile and artillery attacks on civilian objects, targeted mortar attacks on humanitarian convoys, targeted attacks on individual humanitarian or evacuation vehicles, extrajudicial executions, as well as mine blasts. Because of this, we lost 95 people. Another 111 representatives of civil society were killed in action, defending the country,” Yankina said. 

Also, according to her, the situation in the occupied territories is getting more difficult every day: “Activists, human rights defenders and journalists have to hide because they are constantly persecuted by the Russian army and the FSB on fabricated charges (terrorism, extremism, espionage, sabotage, subversion, etc.). The absolute majority of activists are tortured after abduction.” 

The human rights activist added that ten activists, to whom ZMINA provided assistance, had been in Russian captivity from 11 months to a year and a half. 

In addition, during the Human Rights Houses congress, human rights defenders spoke about the rise of authoritarianism and its impact on human rights; emergency support for human rights defenders in new realities and building up the potential of a new generation of human rights defenders, etc. 

Liudmyla Yankina, Olha Skrypnyk and Andriy Zubariev (representatives of the Ukrainian Human Rights Houses) 

Background: The Human Rights Houses Network is a coalition of civil society organizations that work together to promote human rights in Ukraine and abroad. More than 90 civil society organizations are united in the international network operating in Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and the Caucasus. Together, the Network stands for freedom of assembly, association and expression, as well as the right to be human rights defenders in their countries.