Voice of Crimea in the US: Ukrainian human rights defenders spent advocacy week in America

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From May 31 to June 6, Human Rights Centre ZMINA and its partners made an advocacy trip to the USA, namely to New York and Washington, to discuss the issue of occupied Crimea. 

In New York, ZMINA, Crimean Human Rights Group, Almenda Civic Education Center, Human Rights House Crimea, and Regional Center for Human Rights spoke with various UN missions about the importance of supporting the UN Resolution on Crimea and including provisions on holding Russia accountable for military aggression, on fair compensation, etc. in it. 

Ukrainian human rights defenders met, in particular, with delegations of the EU Member States, Great Britain, Mexico, Australia, Sweden, Liechtenstein, Rwanda, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, and other countries. 

In addition, representatives of Ukrainian organizations tried to tell about the real human rights situation in Crimea to those countries that abstained from voting on the resolution on Crimea. Human rights defenders also spoke about the impossibility of territorial compromises, in particular, in the promotion of “peace plans” which include issues of territorial integrity and territorial compromises.

Apart from individual meetings in New York with representatives of UN member states, an event “International response to violations of children’s rights in the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation” was held to mark Children’s Day. 

In Washington, D.C., meetings were held with U.S. Congress members, representatives of international organizations and think tanks, where mainly the reintegration of the de-occupied territories, in particular the territory of Crimea, was discussed. ZMINA advocacy director Alena Lunova noted that the Ukrainian state is already making efforts so that the de-occupied territories can be fully reintegrated into the legal, informational, cultural, and other spaces of Ukraine in the future. 

She also spoke about the priority steps for the state, which were elaborated by the working group on the basis of the Mission of the President of Ukraine in Crimea. They include seven blocks: 

  • Restoration of public administration bodies 
  • Personnel for management bodies, establishments, institutions, organizations 
  • Prosecution for international crimes and crimes against national security as a result of the occupation; amnesty and lustration 
  • Verification of documents and judgments of occupation courts 
  • Protection and restoration of ownership rights, in particular to real estate 
  • Humanitarian policy and demilitarization of educational and cultural spheres 
  • Russian citizenship in the territory of de-occupied Crimea 

Human rights activists also emphasized that the liberation of Crimea is the only way to stop brutal attacks on the civilian population in mainland Ukraine and put an end to international crimes and human rights violations on the peninsula. 

The advocacy visit was carried out with the organizational support of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.