Highly disturbing report regarding an information blockade at the Torez Orphanage
Following the reports last week, first in the Sunday Times, then from Ukrainian civic organizations and media, attempts are still being made to find out what is going on at the Torez Orphanage for Children and Young People with Special Needs.
A few days ago the human rights organization Postup (Progress) reported the dismissal of a Donetsk journalist working for a municipal newspaper over material about alleged infringements in the orphanage.
Now Yelena Gorgadze, Press Secretary for a network of children’s human rights centres reports that at the end of last week members of the Administration of the Torez Orphanage forbade the young residents from talking by phone to Natasha Gorpinchenko, 29, who until last year was also living at the Orphanage. She has spoken to various media outlets, alleging that the food in the Orphanage is inadequate, that there is no tuition and that the management ignored her requests to help her receive an education. Natasha had kept in touch by phone with her friends still living in the Orphanage whom she grew up with.
At the weekend all the young residents’ mobile telephones fell silent. They are switched off now as well. Ms Gorgadze says that despite the Administration’s attempt to block information from the Orphanage, they learned that the mobile telephones had been taken away. They have been locked in a drawer and the residents have been told that they can only use them from now on with the permission and in the presence of a member of staff. We are talking here of adult residents, aged on average between 25 and 30.
For many of them the telephone, along with the radio and television, are one of the few means they have of maintaining contact with the outside world. Many have distant relatives, friends, godparents, or have spoken by mobile telephone with nuns of the Sviato-Nykolsk Convent who also regularly visited and provided them with support.
The young women bought the mobile telephones themselves back at the time when being deemed legally capable, they received their pension themselves. Most of them had this status and the right to spend their own modest pension taken away in 2008 when they were sent en masse for a court medical assessment. Some were also given the phones by the nuns.
The human rights organizations are concerned by this precedent. Given the information recently disclosed alleging the use of physical violence and injections of aminazine in order to frighten or punish for disobedience, this attempt to impose an information blockade arouses serious concern for the safety of young residents of the Orphanage seen as being “too clever”.