Evangelical Protestant Churches of Ukraine ask the international community to stop religious intolerance of militants in Donetsk and Luhansk region
The statement of the Evangelical Protestant Churches of Ukraine as of 08.07.2014 refers to targeted attacks on evangelical protestants by armed militants accompanied with kidnapping, beating, torture, threats of death, assaults at prayer assemblies, houses of worship, rehabilitation centers and other places of worship and ancillary facilities.
The Council called on the international community, including the monitoring missions of the UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union to make efforts to prevent continuation and escalation of religious intolerance in Eastern Ukraine, controlled by armed separatists. The appeal was made public by the Religious Freedom Institute.
by the Heads of Evangelical Protestant Churches of Ukraine
on religious persecution in Donetsk and Luhansk
Along with the intensification of the separatist movements in East Ukraine and the proclamation of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people's republics” (DNR and LNR) the Christians in eastern regions, and, in particular, those of evangelical faith, are increasingly becoming victims of religious persecution.
Targeted attacks by armed militants on evangelicals involve kidnapping, beating, torture, threats of death, assaults at the places of prayer assemblies, prayer houses, rehabilitation centers and other places and ancillary facilities, damage to health or personal property pastors and clergy.
In May - June 2014 the capture and beating of evangelical pastors and ministers took place in Slavyansk, Uzhgorod, Donetsk and Druzhkivka. The terrorists of Luhansk and Donetsk ‘people’s republics’ did not only obstruct the religious activities of evangelical Christians, but also captured the houses of worship to accommodate their headquarters, hospitals and fire points. Such incidents occurred repeatedly in Donetsk and Gorlivka and in Slavyansk, Shahtarsk, Druzhkivka, Torets of Donetsk region and in Luhansk region.
Moreover, June 14, in a terrorist attack on a bridge in Mariupol the DNR militants killed Sergei Skorobahach, a pastor of the Church “Renewal”, who chaired the Council of Churches of the city.
The Council of Evangelical Protestant Churches of Ukraine condemns any religious persecution and discrimination of the believers of Donetsk and Luhansk regions for whatever reasons.
Intolerance and hostility on religious grounds is not typical of the Ukrainian society in which over 50 different denominations were peacefully and fruitfully cooperating for more than 20 years. Freedom of religion is the achievement of an independent Ukraine, so inter-religious harmony and understanding reigned in our country.
We call on the international community, including the UN monitoring missions, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union to make efforts to prevent the continuation and escalation of religious intolerance in Eastern Ukraine, controlled by armed separatists. We believe that the entire world community should condemn the oppression of religious freedom in Donbass region, which reached the level of physical violence towards dissidents, including the real threat to the life of evangelical Christians in the East of Ukraine.
We call on the believers around the world to join our prayers for peace in eastern Ukraine, for cease of terrorism and bloodshed, for returning to normalcy and completeness of the rights and freedoms of citizens of Ukraine residing in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, regardless of their nationality, religion, language and philosophy.
Signed by members of the Evangelical Protestant Churches of Ukraine and published in Kyiv on 08.07.2014:
- Anatoly Havryluk, senior bishop of the Center of Independent Charismatic Christian Churches of Ukraine (Full Gospel);
- Valery Antonjuk, chairman of the All-Ukrainian Union of Churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists;
- Michael Panochko, senior bishop of the Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith of Ukraine;
- Basil Raichynets, senior pastor of the Free Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith of Ukraine;
- Sergei Shaptala, head of the Brotherhood of Independent Churches and Missions of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Ukraine;
- Sergei Datsko, head of the Association of Missionary Churches of Evangelical Christians of Ukraine;
- Nicholas Salamakha, deputy senior bishop of the Ukrainian Christian Evangelical Church;
- Vyacheslav Horpynchuk, bishop of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church;
- Anatoly Kalyuzhnyy, bishop of the Council of Independent Evangelical Churches of Ukraine.