On Saturday, March 3 of 2018, in the morning, police officers and members of the National Guard, on the pretext of enforcing a court decision, entered the tent camp, drove away almost everyone who was there at the time, and then started removing the tents, fences, barricades and debris.
So what happened? Was it enforcement of a court decision and restoration of public order, or a violation of the right to peaceful assembly and arbitrary eviction of people from the tent camp?
Were these actions performed in a lawful and legal way, or were people’s rights violated? Were the actions of law enforcement warranted? And what about those of the protesters?
Pictures of the Saturday morning – head injuries, several protesters wading through snow, and ambulances being loaded with the injured.
Brief statistics – 13 injured protesters, one of them ended up on the operating table that very day, 7 law enforcement officers also received injuries. 111 people were brought to two police district stations as witnesses, with administrative protocols prepared against four of them (https://www.unian.ua/society/10029704-z-bilsh-nizh-sotni-zatrimanih-pid-radoyu-adminprotokoli-sklali-lishe-na-chotiroh-policiya.html). Three journalists from various periodicals also suffered from the actions of the police, which was reported by the Institute of Mass Information http://imi.org.ua/news/imi-vymahaje-nehajno-rozsliduvaty-i-pokaraty-pravoohorontsiv-yaki-napaly-na-zhurnalistiv/.
It was reported that law enforcement officers are responsible for abuse of power and use of excessive force, as well as for forcing all protesters into giving witness statements. It was also reported that the police had no distinguishing signs on their helmets, but at least some had appropriate numbers – see photo https://www.unian.ua/society/10029506-shturm-pid-radoyu-11-mitinguvalnikiv-u-likarni-odnogo-operuyut.html
In their turn, the police, through their spokesmen, deny that they were acting outside the law and demonstrate close combat weapons and ammunition they found at the camp as justification of the brutal arrests.
What happened and why it happened this way should be established in the course of a mandatory investigation, which should be carried out impartially, professionally and without delay.
It should be noted that the entire operation (and this was an operation, prepared and carried out with the involvement of more than 600 policemen and national guards) was recorded by journalists and observers, as well as by the officers themselves, which means that any violations that took place at the time should be on camera. Therefore, the investigation of this incident should determine under what circumstances the injuries were caused and whether they were justified, who gave the orders and performed these actions (both among the law enforcement officers and protesters), how lawful the actions of law enforcement were and how proportionate the use of force on their part.
The situation is neither simple nor clear, and laying blame on any participants of the incident will not take us closer to establishing the truth and addressing the violations. Therefore, to reach correct conclusions, there should be a transparent, public, professional and impartial investigation.
Executive director of Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Director of Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group