Council of Evangelical Protestant Churches appeals to the President
On 24 December the heads and authorized representatives of the churches on the Council of Evangelical Protestant Churches addressed an appeal to President Yushchenko asking him to take the investigation into criminal behaviour by members of the police under his personal control. They called on him to ensure the rights of their believers to freedom of religion, life and health, honour and dignity, inviolability and security.
The appeal was prompted by cases where police officers have exceeded their authority and flagrantly infringed the rights of believers from Evangelical Protestant Churches. The authors of the appeal believe that these cases demonstrate a trend reflecting a real threat to freedom of religion in Ukraine and to the rights and freedoms of believers from Protestant Churches.
They mention the attack on 1 August this year by armed officers of the crime police and a special force “Berkut” unit during a religious service on the House of Worship of the Church of Christians of the Evangelical Faith “Living Water” in Yevpatoriya. Also cited is a case where a threat to kill was made using armed weapons by police officers on 8 November 2007 during the forced eviction of the orphanage “Drop of Gods Blessing” [“Word of Life”] from municipal premises from the Darnytsa district in Kyiv.
The letter stresses that such outrageous behaviour by police officers and the “Berkut” unit violates not only the right to freedom of religion, but also fundamental human rights enshrined both in international documents and in the Ukrainian Constitution.
They also express their support for the All-Ukrainian Union of Evangelical – Pentecostal Churches and “Word of Life” and label the above-mentioned cases as “an attempt on freedom of religion in Ukraine which must be recognized by the authorities trough bring those law enforcement officers guilty to justice and taking measures to prevent such cases in the future”.
The appeal is signed by the Council on behalf of the Union of Baptist Churches, Pentecostal Churches, Seventh Day Adventists, the Ukrainian Christian Evangelical Church, the Brotherhood of Independent Churches and Missions of the Evangelical Baptists of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Lutheran Church, the Union of Free Churches of the Christian Evangelical Faith in Ukraine, and the Association of Missionary Churches of Evangelical Christians of Ukraine.
Information from RISU [the Religious Information Service of Ukraine]