Restoring peace in Donbas

The Eastern Ukrainian Centre for Civic Initiatives conducts interviews with people affected by the armed conflict in Donbas. Starting in August 2017, in cooperation with German NGO KURVE Wustrow, the Centre and its partner organisations from the Coalition ‘Justice for Peace in Donbas’, have conducted more than 70 interviews. The majority of interviewees were ordinary civilians, who lost their families, property or health to the violence.

The recorded interviews were partially shared with the public through articles and videos posted in social media. We intend to continue sharing such information in order to enhance social dialogue on this matter. At the Eastern Ukrainian Centre for Civic Initiatives we believe that restoration of peace starts on an individual level not from the actions of states or governments.

We are convinced that the protection of human rights and peace building are closely connected. In order to prove this point, we organised a one-week training in the Western Balkans in October and November 2017. Representatives of the Eastern Ukrainian Centre for Civic Initiatives and their partner organisations participated in the event. In this training, the human rights defenders and documenters from Ukraine studied the Balkan countries’ experience in dealing with the consequences of war in former Yugoslavia.
In 2017 the Centre organised and ran a number of extensive trainings that focused on improving skills in collecting and sharing life stories of people affected by the war. The training facilitators, some of whom came from abroad, taught us storytelling skills, video-documenting and conflict sensitive writing.

Following the trainings, the Centre, along with its partner organisations, participated in creating a graphic novel consisting of short stories called ‘At the Crossroad: 9 Stories about War and Violence’, it is the first such publication in Ukraine. By 2018, the number of video interviews has considerably grown. They will become the basis for a touring exhibition dedicated to civilian suffering.

Within the framework of restoration of peace activities, the Eastern Ukrainian Centre for Civic Initiatives processes and records incidents of human rights violations. The number of recorded incidents grew by a few hundred in the past six months. We keep working on adding information to our database every day. Our team is determined to collect as much information as possible to present it as evidence of war crimes that took place during the armed conflict in Donbas, in order to make sure those responsible will be brought to justice.