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Ukraine: 'Climate of fear' after 'alarming' rise in rascist attacks-new report

Violent attacks downgraded to ‘hooliganism’, Jews attacked, Roma fingerprinted

There has been an “alarming” rise in the number of racist attacks in Ukraine, said Amnesty International today, as it released a new report condemning the Ukrainian authorities for failing to tackle the issue.

Last year six people were murdered in racist attacks in Ukraine, and this year the figure already stands at four further racist killings, with at least 30 serious racist incidents reported.

In one case a South Korean man was attacked in the street by a gang of four wearing spiked boots who stamped on the victim’s head “until his brains came out”. The attackers allegedly responded to a call from one of the group to kill the man because of his nationality. In another case, a Ghanaian refugee was attacked by a gang of 10 people wielding metal bars and bottles who discussed cutting his throat, an attack later described as a non-racist robbery by the police.

Amnesty’s 39-page report makes it clear that racial discrimination is not peculiar to Ukraine, but that the authorities there are nevertheless failing to meet the challenge of racism, frequently classifying violent racist attacks as “hooliganism” by “skinheads”. Amnesty’s report notes that while the authorities will admit that so-called “everyday racism” does exist in Ukraine, they deny any wider pattern of discrimination

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:

“There has been an alarming rise in racist attacks in Ukraine in recent years and foreigners and ethnic minorities now live in a climate of fear.

“Ukraine’s police, prosecutors and politicians need to urgently confront the scourge of racism, not sidestep it by calling hate crimes acts of ‘hooliganism’.

“In the UK it took an outcry after Stephen Lawrence’s murder for the authorities to finally wake up to the challenge of confronting violent racism, and Ukraine effectively needs to do the same.”

Amnesty’s report shows that all people of colour and foreigners are at risk in Ukraine. In the words of Tomas Lukayi, Director of the African Association of Kiev, “We fear for our Children's rights who are going to schools and kindergarten … they can be attacked or killed at any time.”

As well as the risk of violent attack, Amnesty’s report shows that minorities in Ukraine are subjected to harassment, discrimination and abuse from state officials and ordinary members of the public.

Foreign-looking people are arbitrarily stopped for document checks, all members of some Roma villages including Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights have been fingerprinted and photographed by the police apparently because of their ethnic identity, and there is prejudice as well as violent attacks against Jews and Jewish properties.

Last year, for example, there were nearly 30 attacks on Jewish people or property, including an attack on the director of a Jewish girls’ school and his wife, while in another incident 302 graves in a Jewish cemetery in Odessa were daubed with swastikas, including with the message “Happy Holocaust”. Meanwhile, one academic study in Ukraine has shown a near doubling in anti-Semitic views among the general public from the mid-1990s to 2006.

Amnesty is calling for the Ukrainian authorities to create an inter-agency body to combat racial discrimination and to begin monitoring and publicising all racist incidents across Ukraine. Meanwhile, the authorities are being asked to end the classification of racially motivated crimes as “hooliganism” and to review police procedures regarding document checks to ensure that they are not conducted in a discriminatory manner.

  • read the report

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