09/09/2020 07:09
Deaths of civilians from indiscriminate shelling, participation in hostilities of the foreign citizens. Report of the Human rights activists on human rights violations in the Shyrokine

Human rights activists of the Eastern Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives have prepared a report "On the edge" on respect of human rights and international humanitarian law in Shyrokine village, Donetsk region. The study covers entire period of the armed confrontation in Donbass since 2014. The report is based on interviews of victims, experts, government officials, official information from government agencies and open source data.

Human rights violations during the battles for Shyrokine

During the armed confrontation for the village, both sides of the conflict violated the norms of international humanitarian law. In total, human rights activists have documented 14 types of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and other types of international crimes. These include murders and injuries to civilians as a result of indiscriminate artillery shelling; premeditated murders and injuries to civilians; attempted murder on political grounds; arbitrary detentions; torture and ill-treatment; attacks on medical transports protected under the international law; participation of minors in hostilities; gender-based violence (sexual violence); desecration of dead human bodies.

How the civilian population was affected

12 civilians were murdered during the hostilities in Shyrokine. Another 24 had injuries of varying severity. The causes of death were bullet and shrapnel wounds, in one case - beatings and subsequent hypothermia. The causes of civilian injuries were  artillery shelling and small arms fire equally. The result of the armed confrontation near Shyrokine was the eviction of all its inhabitants, almost complete destruction of private houses and social infrastructure of the village. The people of Shyrokine have lost all their real estate, suffered numerous violations of socio-economic rights and are still deprived of adequate support from the state.

Losses of the warring parties

Since September 2014 at least 58 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the Shyrokine area. Participants of the illegal armed formations (IAF) estimated their losses in the battles for the village as 82 people. The Eastern Ukrainian Center for Public Initiatives managed to establish the names of 40 participants of the IAF who died in Shyrokine, 12 of them were citizens of the Russian Federation. In total, human rights activists have identified the names of 67 Russian citizens who took part in the fightings for the village. Their average age is 33 years. Those are people with experience of service in the Marines, special forces or landing troops of the Russian Federation, military reserves of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, former participants of armed conflicts in the North Caucasus, future participants of the conflict in Syria.

Participation of representatives of other countries in armed conflict

Citizens of Croatia, Sweden, Poland, Georgia, Russia, and the United States fought in Shyrokine on Ukrainian side. Citizens of France, Serbia, Brazil, and Uzbekistan fought in Shyrokine on the side of Russian-controlled IAFs.

Shyrokine in propaganda

The report explores how the parties of the conflict used Shyrokine in propaganda on television. The Ukrainian side accused the enemy in truce breakdown. Raising the issue of village destruction Ukrainian media either did not name the perpetrators of the destruction or blamed only the participants of the IAF. In fact, the fighting took place directly in the village, and both sides of the conflict were involved in the destruction of residential buildings. Russian TV channels suggested that the so-called "third force" was fighting on the side of the enemy; they accused only the Ukrainian forces in destroying the residential areas of the village; the Ukrainian forces were dehumanized by various methods; used hate speech; tried to evoke feelings of fear.

Read more in the report. English version is available by the link.

The report was prepared with the support of UNDP.