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Murder in Vilshany: impunity of perpetrators can lead to systematic harassment of Roma
Briefing at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.Photo courtesy of Volodymyr Kondur’s facebook.
Briefing at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center.

The tragedy in the village of Vilshany of the Kharkiv region, where the Roma were killed, gave rise to a press briefing on May 26 at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. Human rights activists and a representative of the Ombudsman talk about the systematic manifestations of xenophobia, the inaction of the authorities and urge the National Police to investigate hate crimes.

The case concerning the murder of Petro Kaspitsky, a resident of the village of Vilshany, Dergachi district of the Kharkiv region, is one of the eight cases that the Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Ukraine opened regarding the manifestations of xenophobia against the Roma. Such data were presented during the briefing by Aksana Filipishyna, representative of the Human Rights Ombudsman for Child Rights, Non-Discrimination and Gender Equality.

She called Anti-Roma pogroms in Loshchynivka village in the Odesa region in August 2016, the Pandora box, which since opened in Ukraine. And she reminded of further manifestations of hostile attitude and attempts to evict Roma in the Makukhivka villages in Poltava and Sheludkivka of the Kharkiv region, the burning of the Roma camp in the Darnytskyi district of Kyiv, the beating of the Roma at the Kyiv railway station.

"The death of the man is the extreme limit, which our society has already reached ... The most worrying thing is that, representatives of the authorities are involved in all cases through their appeals and the spread of xenophobic sentiments against the Roma", said the Ombudsman.

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Aksana Filipishina. Photo courtesy of uacrisis.org

Today there are several reasons for the systematic spread of xenophobic manifestations regarding the Roma minority, including the reluctance of the authorities to deal with the issue, rather than paper, to deal with Roma issues, the inactivity of law enforcement agencies in the investigation of precedents and, as a consequence, the impunity of perpetrators.

"There is a lack of consistent national state policy at all levels, there is a lack of protection and implementation of integration of the Roma national minority into Ukrainian society, and anti-Roma statements of some representatives of local authorities do not encounter any noticeable condemnation or punishment, especially from the state authorities," said the coordinator of the Roma Program Initiative of the International Renaissance Foundation Mariana Magomedova and reminded that the direct duties of law enforcement agencies is to effectively respond and investigate every notice of a burning criminal offense on the basis of intolerance. The protection of minority rights is one of the priority tasks to prevent discrimination in the country.

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Mariana Magomedova. Photo courtesy of uacrisis.org

Although the representative of the Office for the Protection of Human Rights of the National Police of Ukraine Maksym Kharkivets, present at the briefing, said that the investigation team of the Kharkiv region investigation department following the events in Vilshany detained three persons suspected and investigated, the Roma activists and human rights activists demand the case to be brought to an end and to punish the perpetrators. They urge the National Police to investigate hate crimes - impunity can create an unprecedented situation for systematic oppression of Roma.

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Chairman of Roma national-cultural association “Romen” Vadym Matiushenko. Photo courtesy of uacrisis.org

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The briefing was also attended by the brother of the deceased Petro Kaspitsky - Oleksandr Kaspitsky, who also suffered the misfortunes of the fights in Vilshany. Photo courtesy of uacrisis.org

Head of the Coalition of Roma NGOs “Strategy 2020” Volodymyr Kondur said that the Coalition will start monitoring all criminal proceedings opened in regard to Roma hatred victims.

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Volodymyr Kondur. Photo courtesy of uacrisis.org

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Participants of the briefing also supported the action #Shoot_me_i_am_different as a protest against the violence against Roma, initiated by Roma activists after the assassination of Petro Kaspitsky. Photo by Mykola Mirny/Center for Human Rights Information.

Based on uacrisis.org and humanrights.org.ua

Reference
The organizer of the event is the Coalition of the Roma NGOs of Ukraine "Strategy 2020" with the support of International Renaissance Foundation.

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