Statement from Human Rights Organizations
Law No. 3879 hastily voted on and signed on Jan 16 indicates that Ukraine has entered a period of reaction and obscurantism.
This law was adopted in breach of due procedure for preparation, expert assessment and consideration by the country’s legislative body. The law flagrantly violates fundamental freedom of conscience and views; of speech; information; peaceful assembly; association; movement; property rights and the right to privacy. It thus ignores the relevant norms of Ukraine’s Constitution and articles of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as well as Article 22 of Ukraine’s Constitution.
Of particular note is the addition made by this Law to current legal language through the new term “foreign agent”. This applies to those civic associations “which receive money or other property from “foreign” sources … and also take part, including in the interests of foreign sources, in political activities on Ukraine’s territory.”
A simple linguistic and legal analysis of the last sentence which uncovers the legal content of the term “foreign agent” gives grounds for believing that from now on any civic organization which receives grants from a foreign fund, embassy, organization or donations from an individual will assume this new, discriminatory status. The law demands that civic organizations register and imposes sanctions for failure to do so.
This law infringes the most important principle of constitutional legal order, namely the principle of rule of law. It violates the constitutional rights of Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons living in Ukraine. The term “foreign agent” has the negative connotation of a sign branding a person from whom the public should expect a threat, and therefore such an organization will be subject to aggressive social ostracism, expulsion and destruction.
Let us look truth in the eye – this means that the ruling coalition has declared war on civil society.
In view of this we would state that we have no plan to sign a capitulation agreement in a war which we did not begin. We will never agree to have the authorities push us into a social ghetto and pin a sign around our neck saying “foreign agent”, like the Nazis hung a yellow Star of David on Jews during World War II.
To agree in this case to take on the status of a “foreign agent” would on our part be an insult to the memory of our great predecessors – Oleksy Tykhy; Yury Lytvyn; Valery Marchenko; Vasyl Stus; Viacheslav Chornovil who gave their life in fighting for human rights in Ukraine.
We understand the underlying motivation behind the obscurantist actions of the ruling coalition. In a state of panic-stricken fear in the present situation of wide-scale and organized public protest, they plan at any price to hold on to their privileges and to the neo-feudal structure of power and division of property built up over the last three years.
All these unwise and short-sighted actions by the ruling coalition have one aim alone, to win the 2015 elections. It is for this reason that the coalition has already now mobilized criminal forces for fighting with Maidan, and is bringing organizations with primitive, pogrom provoking, ideology under their banners. These poachers of Ukrainian society have now targeted civic organizations which without any expense to the state create jobs and make up a significant part of the gross national product.
This is why society will be forced to move to new forms of non-violent resistance.
Mykola Kozyrev, Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Arkady Bushchenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Yevhen Zakharov, Director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group
Human rights organizations are invited to endorse this statement which can be signed here: helsinki.org.ua
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