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Statement of the International Renaissance Foundation

26 April 2018

The International Renaissance Foundation strongly condemns recent violent actions, in particular, forced eviction and arson attacks on property, committed on the basis of ethnic hatred targeting the Roma living on the Lysogirska street in Kyiv.

We are deeply concerned over the violence systematically committed against the Roma living in informal settlements. Only in the period of 2017 – beginning of 2018 residents of at least four settlements in cities of Kyiv and Lviv were forcibly evicted, while the settlements were destroyed in a fire.

We are also extremely concerned with extensive use of social networks by attackers to spread information on their actions, inciting to fight crime on an ethnic basis. Such instigations, humiliating human dignity, increasing inequality and inciting intolerance, shall be considered dangerous and unacceptable in a civilized democratic society.

Responsibility for the forcible eviction of the Roma on April 21 was assumed by the right radical organization C14 (Sich). Dressed in masks, members of this organization used pepper spray against inhabitants of the settlement and threw stones at them. The chairperson of this organization reported about these unacceptable violent actions in a public post on Facebook, underlining the “legality of the ways” of eviction.

Once the media broadcast the video showing an attack on the Roma settlement and violent acts committed against the Roma, the National Police of Ukraine announced the opening of criminal proceedings. We urge law enforcement authorities to promptly and impartially investigate this case and bring it to court. Persons guilty of forcibly evicting inhabitants of the settlement shall be brought to justice.

Previous experience shows that the impunity for such violations leads to spreading really dangerous, xenophobic sentiments in the society. The way people live in irregular settlements shall under no circumstances be a cause of violation of their rights, bullying or other violent actions. Harassment of inhabitants of such settlements furthers their social exclusion and exacerbates social inequality. In order to reintegrate Roma in the Ukrainian society, Ukraine adopted the Strategy on the Protection and Integration of the Roma National Minority into Ukrainian society for the period until 2020. Unfortunately, the level of social inclusion of some representatives of the Roma national minority remains extremely low. It breeds intolerance against them and xenophobia, forcing people to leave their homes searching for better opportunities to earn a living in big cities.

The International Renaissance Foundation urges the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to take necessary measures to thoroughly review the approaches in the implementation of the Roma Integration Strategy. It is necessary to enhance the coordinating role of the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Education and Science in this process. The proper implementation of the Strategy requires resources. Once again, we insist on the need to allocate funds for pursuing a course of actions within the framework of the Strategy at both the national and regional levels.

Ensuring the fundamental human rights of all citizens without exceptions, regardless of ethnic origin and property status, is a priority task of the authorities at all levels.

The International Renaissance Foundation will continue to support non-governmental organizations, whose aim is to ensure the observance of the Roma communities rights, to provide access to education, to implement social and cultural inclusion programs, and to carry out essential enlightening and awareness raising campaigns, in order to promote tolerance and respect for human dignity in the Ukrainian society.

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