On October 2 at 16:00 in Poltava Art Museum human rights defenders presented the publication "City, where the war had started" about human rights violations that took place during the occupation of Sloviansk from April 12, 2014 to July 5, 2014. The presentation was attended by former detainees and victims of the war in the Donbas, IDPs, media and representatives of the cultural sphere.
The speakers of the presentation were:
- Anton Udovenko, project manager of Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives, editor of the book «City, where the war had started»
- Mariia Biliakova, documentator of CF Vostok SOS, co-author of the book «City, where the war had started»
- Andrii Moskalenko, lawyer of the Public Committee for the Protection of Constitutional Rights and Freedoms of Citizens, co-author of the book «City, where the war had started»
- Hanna Kurovska, analyst of Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives, co-author of the book «City, where the war had started»
The seizure of Sloviansk by illegal armed formations was possible due to the inaction of local authorities and local law enforcement agencies. “Our task as human rights defenders is to remind the public about the crimes and the persons responsible for them. We cannot but say that the local authorities were not responsible for the events of 2014 in the city. Unfortunately, we do not see any progress in the investigations. Moreover, some of the politicians, who participated in the events of the "Russian spring", are aiming for the positions in local power," - stressed Anton Udovenko.
Andrii Moskalenko spoke about the functioning of illegal prisons and human trafficking during the occupation of the city. "Civilians were very often transferred between illegal groups that forced detainees to dig trenches during shelling. In fact, people turned into some kind of goods," - said the lawyer. "We also worked on the part about mining and, I must note, the illegal formations mined virtually everything in Sloviansk: schools, the city council, the building of the SBU, thereby endangering the lives of innocent people."
Hanna Kurovska worked on a section about children and adolescents and their experience during the occupation of the city. She also mentioned the cases of involving minors in illegal armed groups. "Therefore, the upbringing of children needs special attention. Unfortunately, many respondents noted the intensified militarization of young people, which took place during the occupation of the city and is ongoing in the self-proclaimed republics."
"Everyone`s story is special, and our task is to preserve it and present to the public in order to rethink the traumatic experience that innocent people went through in 2014," - said Maria Biliakova. "In the process of documenting, we saw several ways how people can work on reconciliation. The basis for it is the ability to listen to the opinion of another, grassroots initiatives and respect for human life and dignity. That is why the volunteers had a high level of trust right after the release of the city".
Former prisoner of the "DPR" Iryna Boiko testified during the presentation about what she saw while being held in one of the illegal prisons. "The locals were thrown into the basement for 15 days. They said either you pay a huge "fine", or you join us, or we will kill you. And, of course, many went to illegal formations in order to survive. And I have to say that these people deserve to be forgiven ", - said Iryna Boiko. "I also saw many children, these were teenagers of 14-17 years old, who settled at the prosecutor's office. I heard how they were brainwashed. It was a very strong pressure on the child's psyche".
Facebook translation of the event: https://www.facebook.com/jfp.org/videos/1030542370717977/
The publication "City, where the war had started" was prepared by the Eastern Ukrainian Center of Civic Initiatives, the CF "Vostok SOS", the Human Rights Center for Public Research, Moloda Prosvita Prykarpattya, the Public Committee for the Protection of Constitutional Rights and Freedoms of Citizens, which are members of the Coalition Justice for Peace in Donbass ”, supported by Kurve Wustrow - Center for Training and Networking in Nonviolent Action within the framework of the Civil Peace Service program funded by the German Federal Government.