The co-founder of the Swedish Amnesty leaves after the organization after its report about the Armed Forces of Ukraine
10 August, 2022
Per Wästberg Wikimedia Commons

The co-founder of the Swedish Amnesty, Per Wästberg, leaves the organization after Amnesty International published a controversial report accusing the Ukrainian Armed Forces of creating a danger to civilians, reports Swedish media Expressen and Svenska Dagbladet.

"I have now been a member for almost sixty years. It is with a heavy heart that I, due to Amnesty's statements regarding the war in Ukraine, end a long and fruitful commitment," Wästberg said.

Per Wästberg also reminded that "from its inception, Amnesty worked for the freedom of political prisoners everywhere in the world. It has since gradually, sometimes debatably, expanded its mandate and become another, certainly strongly noticed organization with unknown influence."

Wästberg co-founded the Swedish branch of Amnesty International in 1964.

Amnesty International Report

On August 4, the human rights organization Amnesty International published a report claiming "the Ukrainian military endangering civilians by locating forces in residential areas" in attempt to repel the Russian invasion.

The organization said it found evidence that the armed forces were attacking from residential areas and were also based in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages.

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, condemned the Amnesty International report. "We saw today a completely different report from Amnesty International, which unfortunately tries to amnesty the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim," said the President. 

The European Commission, in response to this report, reminded that it is Russia that attacks civilian targets, instead, the Ukrainian military protects them.

Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard dismissed critics of this report by tweeting"Ukrainian and Russian social media mobs and trolls: they are all at it today attacking Amnesty investigations. This is called war propaganda, disinformation, misinformation."

The Ukrainian office of Amnesty International said that it did not participate in the preparation and distribution of the report, and "representatives of the Ukrainian office did everything they could to prevent this material from being made public."

Later, the head of the Ukrainian office of Amnesty International, Oksana Pokalchuk, announced that she was resigning after the report by the organization's central office. She explained that the team of the Ukrainian office constantly emphasized that the report should have at least investigated two sides and taken into account the position of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

According to Pokalchuk, Amnesty International representatives eventually asked the Ministry of Defense for comment but gave very little time to respond. Therefore, the organization's report "sounded like support for Russian narratives" and "became a tool of Russian propaganda."

After public criticism, Amnesty International apologized for the "distress and anger" caused by a report accusing Ukraine of endangering civilians but did not abandon its conclusions.