UHHRU expresses concern over events in Kharkiv and treatment of protesters
The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has addressed an open appeal to the Prosecutor General, O. Medvedko, the Minister for the Environment, V. Boiko and the Minister for Regional Policy and Construction V. Yatsubi.
It expresses concern over the practice of the bodies of local self-government in Kharkiv with regard to planning and building on city territory, this involving the destruction of green public areas and disregard for the public interest with regard to this area and human rights.
“We are especially concerned over cases of destruction, authorized by the Kharkiv City Council of century-old trees in Gorky Park, Shevchenko Park and the city forest – park which have led to numerous public protests and considerable media attention.
UHHRU considers the destruction of trees in Gorky Park to be unlawful since it has not been authorized by Ministry for Environmental Protection [MEP] bodies, runs counter to the General Plan for Kharkiv and environmental and city building regulations. The above-mentioned decisions by the Kharkiv City Council concerning the planning and construction of public use recreation zones were passed without any public discussion, as is required by the Aarhus Convention and the Laws on the Protection of the Environmental and On Planning and Construction Work.
The large-scale felling of trees in Gorky Park between 20 and 27 May was accompanied by acts of violence by employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] against citizens endeavouring to stop the felling. There were flagrant cases where young athletic-looking men beat up protesters, while the excavator injured several people. The police during all of this did absolutely nothing.
In view of this UHHRU calls on the Prosecutor’s Office to appeal against the decisions of the Kharkiv City Council regarding planning and construction of recreation zones; to immediately stop work on felling trees in Gorky Park; to begin an investigation into cases of physical violence against those taking part in a peaceful public protest.
We demand that the Ministries for Environmental Protection and Regional Policy and Construction carry out expert assessments of the decisions of the Kharkiv City Council with regard to planning and construction of recreation zones, and as soon as is feasible establish the legal status of Gorky Park, Shevchenko Park and the city forest – park which will protect them from destruction.
We ask for a written response regarding decisions taken and measures with respect to the above-mentioned offences, in accordance with Article 20 of the Law on Citizens’ Appeals.
Adopted by the UHHRU General Meeting on 27 May 2010