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Donetsk bodies of local self-government once again obstruct religious communities

31.05.2008    source:

Officials of the Executive Committee of the Donetsk City Council are putting obstacles in the way of believers holding a peaceful gathering on 1 June. The believers of different denominations wish to gather for joint prayers read by priests and ministers of their various churches.  The organizers explain that they planned the prayer meeting to mark International Day of the Child on 1 June and to draw attention to neglected children, orphans, abortion etc.  In response to their notification of plans to hold the gathering, the authorities initially responded positively without any comments. Then later the Deputy Mayor directly prohibited the use of amplifying equipment. The ban was given no legislative justification and merely referred to complaints from residents of the central district of the city. Such complaints were indeed received over recent celebrations of the victory of the local football team which went on till late at nigh.

The organizers believe that the Mayor’s office is using unwarranted and far-fetched reasons to obstruct the planned civic initiative by Evangelical Christians. This kind of event is rendered meaningless if sound amplifiers cannot be used, and this restriction effectively makes it a complete ban. The event is planned for a short period during daytime hours and would not cause disturbance to central district residents.

They express bemusement over the position taken by the Executive Committee of the Donetsk City Council. The Donetsk Mayor’s office has received a number of explanations from the Ministry of Justice, Verkhovna Rada profile committees and from National Deputies indicating clearing that the local authorities and bodies of local self-government must not restrict or deprive citizens of their right to peaceful assembly.

The Donetsk Prosecutor protested against the procedure for holding mass civic measures No. 313, passed by the Executive Committee of the Donetsk City Council on 18.08.1999 and later took the Executive Committee to court. The said procedure was cancelled as against the law by a Resolution of the Donetsk Regional Court of Appeal on 2 June 2006.  Despite this, the position of the Donetsk city authorities is again based on arguments which the court declared unlawful and in violation of Article 39 of the Constitution.

Evangelical Christians in Donetsk have over the last six years traditionally held such gatherings on International Day of the Day. Each year around 1500 residents of the city take part in actions proclaiming the need to protect the right of the child from conception, speak out against abortion and draw attention to the need to create safe and decent conditions for children’s development.

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