ZMINA discussed Ukrainian resistance efforts at the Taiwan-Europe Security Forum

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On September 9-11, World Federation of Taiwanese Associations, European Federation of Taiwanese Associations and KUMA Academy organised a Taiwan-Europe Security Forum aiming to discuss regional security, collaborate with partners sharing common goals, build democratic value chains, and create a new order of peace and sustainability. ZMINA’s International Advocacy Officer Tetiana Zhukova joined an event and shared an experience of Ukrainian civil resistance against the Russian war of aggression.

Photo: Tetiana Zhukova. Credit: World Federation of Taiwanese Associations

Ukrainian experience in resisting the Russian invasion is of high importance to the Taiwanese people. Even though there is over 10,000 km distance between Kyiv and Taipei, Ukrainians and Taiwanese are united by the resistance to centuries of oppression and the struggle for human rights.

The Euromaidan revolution was going on in Ukraine at the same time as the Sunflower Revolution in Taiwan; Ukrainians organized people’s chains along Crimean roads with slogans for integrity while the Taiwanese organized people’s chains with slogans for independence. Still, both Ukraine and Taiwan are subjected to disinformation campaigns, often shared by Russia and China, which were discussed by forum participants.

Photo: Jerry Yu. Credit: ZMINA

However, there is one important difference in the current situation between Ukraine and Taiwan: when China constantly threatens Taiwan with invasion, Russia made a brutal move and started an aggression against Ukraine in February 2014 which further increased its scale in February 2022.

The Russian invasion motivated 80% of Ukrainians to engage in civil resistance according to a survey conducted by the Sociological Group “Rating”. Each Ukrainian stood up for independence: since the beginning of the Russian aggression, there have been lines of people subscribing to the army, donating blood and money, giving food and clothes to those in need, sharing accommodation with internally displaced people, evacuating population and animals, providing psychological support, first aid and cybersecurity training.

Photo credit: ZMINA

Civil society became one of the irreplaceable parts of resistance efforts. Tetiana Zhukova described the involvement of Human Rights Centre ZMINA in the common fight for independence: “ZMINA works on documentation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian military in the occupied territories of Ukraine. We collect data online, as well as our experts go on field missions to the de-occupied territories, speak with victims and witnesses and document cases of torture, deportation and enforced disappearance according to international standards. Afterwards, the collected data is submitted to Ukrainian and international mechanisms for further prosecution of perpetrators. We write reports about the grave violation of human rights during the war and share them with the international society. We spread the information about abducted and arbitrarily detained people, as well as about political prisoners, especially the ones who need urgent medical assistance.

Photo: Taiwanese painting letters to Crimean political prisoners. Credit: ZMINA

Zhukova emphasized that the repression against Crimean political prisoners has significantly intensified from the beginning of the full-scale invasion. There are 186 Crimean political prisoners and, since the beginning of 2023, two political prisoners  – Dzhemil Hafarov and Kostiantyn Shyring – have died in places of detention in Russia. 

As of September 2023, 45 political prisoners have chronic diseases, disabilities, and acquired serious diseases during their stay in prison, due to torture, cruelty and lack of treatment. Among them, 26 people need immediate medical attention, they are at risk of not being released and dying.

Zhukova told the stories of Iryna Danylovych, Volodymyr Dudka, Azamat Eiupov, Amet Suleimanov, Tymur Ibrahimov, Emir-Usein Kuku, Zekiria Muratov, Oleh Prykhodko, Ivan Yatskin and called the Taiwanese people to share information about them, to speak up for their release and provision of medical assistance to them.

Photo credit: European Federation of Taiwanese Associations

Finally, Zhukova called the audience to prepare to resist cyber-attacks and disinformation, provide first aid, pack an emergency suitcase, study international prosecution mechanisms, and advocate among other countries to stand with Taiwan and achieve economic independence from China. Ukraine and Taiwan have to stand together at the forefront of the world striving for freedom.