UN: East Ukraine a Human Rights Mess

Tatars being oppressed, freedom of speech curtailed
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2014 9:29 AM CDT
A barricade is raised at the regional administration building in eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, Thursday, May 15, 2014.    (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
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(Newser) – Human rights abuses are escalating in Ukraine's contested East, the UN warned in a report today. It's the second monthly assessment of the situation, the BBC reports, and there's been an "alarming deterioration" since the first. The lowlights include:

  • Minority Tatars in Crimea are facing harassment and restrictions on their freedom of movement, as are people who opposed the referendum to join Russia.
  • It's common for peaceful protests to "suddenly turn into a violent confrontation," with police unwilling or unable to protect participants. Sometimes, police join those attacking the protesters.
  • Journalists and media outlets are often attacked and threatened.
  • Hate speech is increasingly common.
  • There have been documented cases of targeted killings, torture, and abduction, mainly by separatists.
  • In presenting the report, the Assistant UN Secretary-General for Human Rights said that 127 people had been killed in clashes and military confrontations in the region, according to Voice of Russia.

Russia has condemned the report as one-sided, saying it ignores "the crudest violations of human rights by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities," though the report does urge Kiev to get to the bottom of the Odessa massacre. It also urges "those with influence on the armed groups responsible for much of the violence" to rein them in. The situation in Eastern Ukraine remains fluid; yesterday thousands of steelworkers took back the city of Mariupol from pro-Russian separatists, the New York Times reports. (Read more Ukraine stories.)

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