Civic activists assert their right to peaceful protest
In favour of peaceful protest!
A press conference was held in Kyiv on 16 November on Threats to and Restrictions on Peaceful Protests in Ukraine. The participants announced that they were gathering signatures for an appeal to the Verkhovna Rada and President in defence of the right to peaceful protest in Ukraine.
Draft law No. 2450, tabled in the Verkhovna Rada, establishes restrictions on holding any peaceful protests. The local authorities are also trying to make the procedure for holding peaceful protests considerably more difficult. It was only on 14 November that a civil suit succeeded in overturning the decision by the Simferopol City Executive Committee from 25 February 2011 which seriously restricted freedom of assembly in the city. Civic activists had, via civil suits or protests to the Prosecutor, got similar decisions by the city authorities in Dnipropetrovsk, Uzhhorod, Donetsk and Chernivtsi revoked.
As well as attempts to impose legislative restrictions, we are seeing ever more aggressive response to peaceful protests from the law enforcement bodies. The head of a project monitoring peaceful protest in Ukraine, Volodymyr Ishchenko reported an increase in protests against government reforms cutting benefits etc. While the majority (87%) of such protests had been entirely law-abiding and non-violent, the authorities had been increasingly likely to use repressive measures. Out of 100 protests in October, 14 had elicited repressive measures. He reported that the ratio for the period from October 2009 to September 2010 had been 12 out of 100.
The Head of the nationwide campaign “For Peaceful Protest” Volodymyr Chemerys reported that signatures are being gathered for an appeal to the Verkhovna Rada and President in defence of the right to peaceful protest. Coordinators are collecting signatures in all parts of the country, and people can also sign the appeal at: http://www.zmina.org.ua/.