OCU and human rights activists initiate ‘Freedom to Kremlin Prisoners’ Telethon
A large-scale telethon to send a worldwide information wave on the release of Kremlin political prisoners will be held on September 7 by Ukrainian human rights activists and Church representatives.
This was announced by the organizers during a press conference in Ukrinform.
"The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, represented by the Orthodox Mission for assistance to victims of human rights violations and persons deprived of their liberty, and the Department of Social Services of the OCU have scheduled a telethon 'Freedom to Kremlin Prisoners' on September 7, 2020, dedicated to people suffering from Russian aggression," said Ihor Hryb, an adviser to the head of the Orthodox Mission.
According to the Deputy Chairman of the OCU Synodal Department of Social Service, Archpriest Serhiy Dmitriev, the day before, the organizers of the action talked to the head of the OCU, Metropolitan Epifaniy, and received his permission and support.
"We know that many illegally detained Ukrainians are now in the occupied territories - in the ORDLO and annexed Crimea - and we cannot simply stand idly by. Relatives of political prisoners often turn to us in the last resort. This telethon is one of the advocacy campaigns initiated by religious organizations. We urge the OCU and other religious organizations to join in drawing attention to those who are illegally detained in prisons so that we can hear who these people are, regardless of their nationality or religion,” Dmitriev said.
Oleksandra Matviychuk, a human rights activist with the Center for Civil Liberties, said the marathon was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the release of 11 Kremlin political prisoners and 24 POWs.
According to the Center for Civil Liberties, at least 94 people are being imprisoned for political reasons in Russia in occupied Crimea. As for the territory of the occupied Donbas, everything is much more complicated. The SSU is talking about at least 234 people. However, according to our data, the numbers are far greater. Thus, we need to understand that we are talking about human destinies," she stressed.
According to Matviychuk, their organization has been taking care of the release of political prisoners, prisoners of war and civilian hostages for seven years now.
"We see this topic in dynamics - through international documents, the attitude of the Ukrainian government and other countries to this problem, and in numbers. And, unfortunately, during all these years we see a decline in interest in this topic in the international arena. Therefore, we, together with our partners, must continually make efforts to keep this topic the talk of the Ukrainian community," the human rights activist emphasized.
She added that the situation is exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which is particularly affecting the categories of people behind bars.
"These people are utterly defenseless against the COVID-19 pandemic. The very design of places of detention does not provide for any possibility of physical distance, such a basic thing as hand washing, let alone any equipment, medical workers or medications. COVID has escalated the issues we have been working on for seven years... It raises the question of whether these people will live to the moment of release if an epidemic breaks out in these isolated institutions,” Matviychuk stressed.
She reminded that in March their organization launched the 'Prisoners Voice' petition with several demands, including admission to prisoners of the International Committee of the Red Cross, providing them with the necessary medical, etc.
As noted, the telethon will feature performances of various famous people: musicians, public figures, relatives of political prisoners, former prisoners, human rights activists, government officials, diplomats, and scientists.
The organizers appeal to all concerned Ukrainians, human rights organizations, public initiatives and associations to support the action. Suggestions concerning the telethon can be submitted to the office of the Synodal Department of Social Service in the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, or by the following phone number: 0675062745. They announced that information about the event would be posted on the Facebook page of the Synodal Administration.