Kiev, March 19, 2019
A group of special UN Rapporteurs appealed to the authorized Ukrainian state bodies on September 30 with an information request on the violations of the rights of the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian authorities ignored the request; the reporters received no answer within the legally-prescribed time frame, reports the site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The representation of the UOC to European international organizations, headed by His Grace Bishop Viktor of Baryshevka, believes the state’s silence is nothing more than an attempt to hide the real situation with the discrimination against the canonical Ukrainian Church for its refusal to go into schism. It is also another proof of the existence of a systematic state policy on discrimination of the UOC.
The information request to the Ukrainian state raised questions about “a series of acts of violence which appear to contravene the internationally-recognized right to freedom of religion and belief: they include attacks against and seizure of places of worship belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC); acts of intimidation and harassment, including death threats made against one priest and editor of the Union Orthodox Church news agency; the disruption of the All-Ukrainian Cross Procession as well as violence against peaceful believers.”
In particular, the report notes: “On 27 July 2016, over 80.000 believers were participating in the All-Ukrainian Cross Procession organized by the UOC. Law enforcement officials used rubber truncheons against the participants. As a result, 14 of them were injured, including fractured limbs and severe head injuries.”
It also notes 70 reported attacks of vandalism against UOC premises between 2014 and 2017.
The Rapporteurs expressed “grave concern at these allegations, which, if confirmed, would amount to an emerging pattern of officially-sanctioned, directly or by omission, violations of the internationally-recognized rights to life and security of the person, to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly and to religious freedom and belief, as set forth in articles 6, 9, 18, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”
The ICCPR was ratified by the state of Ukraine in 1973 and constitutes an international legal obligation.
The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights for the United Nations also recently released two reports including information about religious tensions and oppression in Ukraine surrounding the autocephaly process. The reports acknowledge that the religious situation has been worsened in Ukraine thanks to the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s actions there and that the canonical Church has suffered at the hands of the state, the schismatics, and right-wing extremist groups.
Bp. Viktor also previously released a video addressing the UN, the EU, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe concerning the widespread violations of human rights in Ukraine that the faithful of the canonical Church are facing, and of the real threat of an escalation in religious conflicts.
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