Another Brutal Attack on a Roma Settlement in Ukraine
24 May, 2018

Another attack on a Roma settlement has been reported – this one taking place near Ternopil, where seven adults and more than 30 children were present at the time.

The press service of the National Police in the Ternopil region says around 15 men attacked the camp in Velyka Berezovytsa on May 22.

It marks the third attack on a Roma settlement within the period of a month.

According to the reports, the residents were preparing dinner by a fire when a group of people ran into the camp. The sound of gunshots was also heard. Reports say the tents went up in flames and seven adults and 33 children on site at the time fled into the forest.

The head of the regional police department, Alexander Bogomol, said the residents came from the Transcarpathian region and lived in tents near the sugar factory. They earned a living by collecting and selling scrap metal.  

Police detained a group of people about one and a half kilometers from the scene, taking them to Ternopil police station.

At the campsite, law enforcement officers found bullets, however, so far there have been no reports of the residents seeking medical help.

Police are considering several versions of the incident. They believe a conflict between the Roma community and local residents could have occurred. The law enforcement body said it earlier received complaints about the Roma community.

Police have initiated a criminal investigation under the article of "hooliganism."

Human Rights Ombudsperson Lyudmila Denisova however says signs point to the likelihood of the attack being hate crime on ethnic grounds. Earlier, the US Embassy called on Ukraine to investigate the attacks on the Roma.

READ MORE: Far-Right Activists Destroy Roma Settlement in Kyiv

Earlier this month in the Lviv region near the village of Rudne, a group if people burned down another Roma camp.  The property of the Roma was destroyed, and the inhabitants of the camp were forced to leave their settlement. Human rights groups say some of the families were left homeless.

Prior to that, on April 22, members of the right-wing extremist organization С14 set fire to a Roma camp at Lysa Hora in Kyiv.

Head of the Kyiv Police Andriy Kryshchenko stated that it was not the camp itself that was burned, but the trash the Roma community left behind.

Police were unresponsive until a video of the Roma community fleeing the site went public, following which two criminal cases were filed in relation to the incident.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has called the forced dispersal of the Roma camp in Kyiv “bullying” and “persecution.”

On April 27, around 30 people held a protest against anti-Roma pogroms outside the headquarters of the Kyiv police.

READ MORE: Fire and Fury: Another Roma Settlement Destroyed in Ukraine