Peaceful protest against torture banned in Zaporizhya
On 26 June, International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Zaporizhya authorities banned civic activists from holding a peaceful protest against torture.
Similar protests took place in Kyiv, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Chernihiv organized by Amnesty International in Ukraine; the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union; the Kharkiv Human Rights Group; the Regional Initiatives Foundation and the Human Rights Information Centre.
In Zaporizhya the city authorities, together with the police, “prevented” the street performance. Officials refused to register the notification of plans to hold the protest and said that the notification needed to be submitted 10 days before the event.
When the civic activists tried to hold their picket anyway, they were met by three cares of Berkut riot police and had an unpleasant conversation with the police management who spent an hour trying to explain to the organizers that they were slandering the police by accusing them of using torture.
Paulina Starodubets who organized the protest says that such interference is not uncommon in Zaporizhya, with the authorities refusing to register notification of plans to hold a gathering. If such a meeting is held without notification, that serves as a reason to take the activists to court.
From a report by the Human Rights Information Centre Photo: Iryna Vyrtosa