Chairman of the Organizing Committee
on preparation and hosting
in Ukraine the 2017 Eurovision song contest
Dear Mr. Hroisman,
Recently there was a series of incidents with human rights violations involving radical groups and inaction of law enforcement in respect to the Roma community. Thus, on March 31 and April 5, 2017, within preparation for the Eurovision song contest, Roma settlements were burned and their inhabitants (including representatives of the Moldovan and Hungarian nationalities) were forcibly evicted and sent out of the city.
In the first case, a camp on the territory of the housing estate “Novobilychi” (Svyatoshinsky area) with the population of about 200 people was destroyed; the second – natural settlement (about 150 people) near the Nyzhnii Telbyn Lake (next to Sortuvalna and Kanalna streets).
Victims said that one of the reasons was the fact that highway and railway are situated close to their settlements; these natural settlements on these territories are not desirable to show to guests of the Eurovision.
Furthermore, before the events in April, Roma human rights activists appealed to law enforcement agencies of Kyiv with a request to provide security to residents of the settlement, because of the threats that regularly were sent to local Roma people and preparation to attack them. Unfortunately, police responded to the appeal not quickly enough that led to the infamous, in terms of human rights, implications.
Such cases are not a new phenomenon for Ukraine. For example, in Ukraine, on the eve of the football championship Euro-2012, settlements of Roma and other nationalities were burned in Berezniaky in Kyiv (near Bereznyakivska Street). The victims-witnesses of the incident said that law enforcement officers were involved: they took people out of the tents, took pictures of half-dressed men, set their tents and documents on fire, fired into the air and demanded to leave the village because of the large public event in Kyiv, etc.
In our view, the use of the practice of encouraging Roma to leave their settlements in the capital on the eve of cultural events of the European scale does not improve the image of Ukraine as a legal and democratic state in the eyes of the European and world community.
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union strongly condemns such methods of preparation for the Eurovision song contest and requires a thorough investigation into this crime and bringing to justice all those responsible.
We also urge the Organizing Committee to take immediate measures to prevent the repetition of the above incidents and offer to take advantage of this multi-cultural event like the Eurovision song contest in order to promote tolerance, non-discrimination, combating racism and xenophobia in Ukraine.
Arkadiy Bushchenko, Executive Director of the Civic Union “Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union”