February 2019 marks five years since the bloodiest days of the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine. A simple demonstration against then president Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian decisions turned into a massive uprising against the entire regime. On February 18, 2014 the special riot police force Berkut began a forceful dispersion of the protest – things ended in bloodshed and casualties. These days, Berkut officers (whose division was officially dissolved in 2014 but many now serve in the special regiment of Ukraine’s national police) are considered responsible for the killings of around 100 demonstrators, known as “the Heavenly Hundred” who were shot and tortured to death.
According to Amnesty International, five years after Euromaidan, the Ukrainian authorities have still failed to serve justice for all victims of police abuses committed during the protests. The organization issued a statement, calling Kyiv’s investigation “a shame and an indictment of Ukraine’s criminal justice system”.
Despite the international community observing the actions of the Ukrainian authorities, Ukraine still hasn't addressed this black spot properly and ensured that the truth came out, Senior Director at the Office of the Secretary General of Amnesty International Colm O Cuanachain told Hromadske during his visit in Kyiv.
In his opinion, Ukraine doesn't have the political will to fully investigate the killings, the beatings and attacks against innocent demonstrators during those poignant days. This is also a critical issue for Ukraine's position internationally, he adds. In his opinion, it is hugely important that the authorities realize that the world still expects justice and truth.
“If Ukraine still wants to advance its relationship with the EU, there has to be a serious and very vigorous investigation,” he says.
Moreover, O Cuanachain thinks that there is a direct connection between the failure to investigate the killings on Euromaidan and the atmosphere that’s allowing human rights violation to continue to grow in Ukraine.
“As the authorities are sweeping these abuses under the carpet, it creates a climate for violent groups who begin to feel that they are going to get away with the hate crimes and attacks that we are seeing on the rise in Ukraine.”
O Cuanachain acknowledges the rise in xenophobia, hate crime and nationalism all over the world and according to him, it is based on “demonic politics, populism and ethnonationalism” that evoke fear.
“If people are afraid, if people are focused on other [things] rather than on building the society, power becomes diluted and in that space autocracies and power of demonic power can thrive,” he says.
Therefore, every country, every government has to commit to do more to protect civilians, to protect human rights, to protect the values on which a better society can be built. And the more focus and energy the authorities in Ukraine put into the rule of law now, the sooner a peaceful society will evolve again in the country.
/By Mariia Ulianovska