German OSCE-Presidency 2016 – New Impetus for Human Rights in Donbas and Crimea?
On 28. April 2016 in MediaHub human rights lawyers, politicians and journalists with a representative of the German OSCE-Presidency discussed a desirable "New Impetus for Human Rights in Donbas and Crimea".
The full video from the event can be accessed below.
Oleksii Matsuka presented his experiences delivering investigative journalism in the seized region around Donezk and the difficulties, dangers and unusual practices which are demanded by the situation. The daily work is not only hampered by the local authorities but also by the adverse circumstances of the war. Therefore, social media became crucial in being in contact with citizens wanting direct and realiable informatoin. He emphasised that within the grey zone no local elections can possibly take place at present.
The starting position of Oleksandra Matviychuk is the fact that the Ukrainian government does not control all the Ukrainian territories (Crimea and Donbas) - and that within these regions live around five million Ukrainians. Her organisation is conducting monitoring of politically persecuted people and uncovering cases of deliberate judicial persecution and acts of violence towards innocent people. Hybrid warfare strategies ease making the violations invisible for outsiders. Consequently, it is difficult to raise awareness. Matwijtschuk believes that three aspects are paramount in terms of human rights: The immediate release of hostages, a declaration that there is no amnesty for people having committed (war-)crimes and lastly real local elections as understood in Western democracies.
Wolfgang Bindseil cautioned that the expectations regarding the German presidency are high and that one must not forget also Germany being bound to the procedures inherited by the OSCE. He underlined the German motto of creating security through dialogue, reconstruction and trust. The events the presidency is organizing deal with these issues. Germany regards the Minsk process as a means to regain the complete sovereignty of Ukraine. Elections can only be upheld within the OSCE standards; when and how will be part of a negotiation process.
Mustafa Dzhemilev addressed the painful problem of the Minsk process leaving out the Crimean Peninsula. Territorial integrity of Ukraine of course includes Crimea. One alternative approach is to found a platform with member countries of the Budapest Memorandum. The OSCE should deal with the problem if including Crimea. Otherwise the status quo is going to stay a frozen conflict and may result in wiping out the Crimean Tatars. Unfortunately, hands are bound because of a lacking constitutional state. Since the Mejlis is considered an extremist organisation, everyone can be imprisoned who is either within or connected to the Mejlis. The Crimean Tatar hope is with the international community, represented through the UN, EU, Amnesty International etc. These organisations have to demonstrate constant pressure on the occupants, in order to facilitate the return to a non-violent situation for the Crimean Tatars.
Markus Loening underlined how important it is that the EU demonstrates unity vis-a-vis Russia. A consistent and common willingness is needed to point out that sanctions will remain, unless the territorial integrity of Ukraine is reinstalled. Before talking about political measures, one has to be aware of the fact that the aggressor (Russia) is not willing to end his violations. In this context it is decisive to say truthfully what is happening. There will be no fast solution.
Volodymyr Vasylenko stated that the OSCE is an instrument not capable of dealing with the Russian aggression. One problem is that Western politicians perceive Putin from their perspective and leave out his imperialist world view. Since the OSCE is part of this, it will not have the necessary means to convince Putin.
Sabine Adler (Moderator): Eastern European Correspondent for Deutschlandradio
Mustafa Dzhemilev: Former Chair of the Mejlis and Member of the Verkhovna Rada
Volodymyr Vasylenko: Representative for Ukraine to the UN Human Rights Council (2006-2010)
Oleksii Matsuka: Journalist from Donezk and Head of Hromadske TV Donbas
Oleksandra Matviychuk: Director for the Center for Civil Liberties Kyiv
Markus Loening: Former Authorized Representative of the German Federal Government for Human Rights Policies and Humanitarian Aid (2010-2014)
Wolfgang Bindseil: Permanent Representative of the German Ambassador to Ukraine in Kyiv