Human rights activists concerned about rise of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia in Ukraine
On June 13 the Kharkiv Human Rights Group published a report “Hate Crimes.” It summarizes the facts of offenses committed in Ukraine for the period from April 2011 to April 2012, Kommersant-Ukraine reports.
According to the head of the human rights group, Yevhen Zakharov, most hate crimes are committed against foreigners, people with a non-Slavic appearance, and LGBT activists. Human rights activists also are concerned about the rise of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia in Ukraine. The document includes cases of beatings of citizens of India, Tunisia, Morocco, Somalia and other countries, numerous cases of desecration of graves in Muslim cemeteries, mosques and monuments dedicated to the figures of the Crimean Tatar people. Thus the report called Crimea the territory where “the level of aggressive xenophobia is the highest.”
Experts note that the Ministry of Internal Affairs rarely pursues criminal cases under Art. 161 of the Criminal Code (“violation of the equality of citizens regardless of their race, nationality or religion”), or classifies such offenses as hooliganism. The ministry reacted to these accusations with amazement.
“We definitely investigate all cases of hooliganism. Police do not care whether the victims are Ukrainian or foreign. First, we catch criminals, and cases of xenophobia must be dealt by the General Prosecutor,” head of the Public Relations of the Ministry Volodymyr Polishchuk told Kommersant.
It should be noted that according to the report, in 2011 there were two criminal cases, which fell under Art. 161 of the Criminal Code, while the number of recorded cases of violence against foreigners (excluding CIS) was 33.
Head of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Dzhemilev fully agrees with the assessment of the situation in the Crimea that was provided by the human rights group.
“All these wild cases occur with the full connivance of the authorities, who, in fact, pursue a policy of discrimination against Crimean Tatars,” he said. According to Dzhemilev, the number of Tatars present in the Crimean government, including the police, should be proportionate to the number of Tatars living in the region: “If the Crimean Tatars make up 13% of the population and only 3% in the government, those who do not like us, feel confident and create lawlessness.”