FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
18 February 2014
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress is outraged by the decision of the Ukrainian authorities to use deadly force against peaceful demonstrators today in Kyiv. The Ukrainian people have been demonstrating since November in an attempt to convince the government to return basic human rights and freedoms to its citizens. The response of the government has been to instigate violence against its own people on several occasions. Today, demonstrators were blocked in an attempt to march to Ukraine’s parliament to pressure members of parliament to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in the country. Instead, the authorities used particularly brutal and deadly force after minor clashes with demonstrators broke out.
At least nine people have been killed, including 2 police officers. Hundreds are injured – many of them severely. Ukrainian internal army and special forces threw sound grenades from rooftops of buildings into the crowds, beat demonstrators mercilessly, used rubber bullets, and there are several reports that special forces used snipers with live ammunition to fire against their own people. Law enforcement worked in tandem with plainclothes hired thugs who were used to attack demonstrators. The response of the General Prosecutor, Minister of Internal Affairs, and other government officials was to blame demonstrators for the violence and threaten reprisals against those who organized and took part in the protests.
“The ultimate responsibility for the escalation of tensions, the brutal violence, and the death of Ukrainian citizens today sits squarely on President Yanukovych,” said Paul Grod, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. “Yanukovych has once again displayed his utter contempt and total disregard for the very people whose rights he swore an oath to protect. Since the beginning of protests in November, the President has refused to hear his own peoples’ calls for the return of their human dignity, human rights and democracy. The blood of the Ukrainian people are on the hands of the Victor Yanukovych.”
The UCC calls on President Yanukovych to immediately order an end to the violence, engage in dialogue with Ukrainian civil society and opposition leaders, return to the people of Ukraine their inalienable human and democratic rights, and ensure that those ministers, special forces officers and soldiers responsible for the violence carry criminal responsibility for their illegal orders and actions.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress reiterates that the use of violence is totally unacceptable. The UCC calls on the government of Canada
– to immediately institute financial sanctions against the officials in the Ukrainian government responsible for today’s violence;
– to ensure that the perpetrators of today’s attacks on Ukrainians are held criminally responsible;
– to use its considerable international influence to convince international partners, in particular the countries of the European Union, to likewise implement sanctions against those responsible for the killings and Human Rights abuses;
– to immediately send a mission to monitor the developments in Ukraine, most importantly the situation with human rights.
The UCC once again underlines its complete solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and their brave struggle to protect their dignity, human rights, and democracy in Ukraine