TDC organized a series of meetings to inform Latin America about Russian war crimes

In the course of the visit of Latin American journalists to Ukraine, TDC organized a series of awareness meetings to inform the audience about Russian war crimes. This gave journalists the opportunity to meet with relevant officials, human rights activists, and victims of Russian crimes and witness their testimonies firsthand.

Daria Herasymchuk, President’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights and Children’s Rehabilitation, spoke of the forced transfer of Ukrainian children to Russian territory; such actions are one of the components of genocide committed by Russia against Ukraine during the war. Ms. Herasymchuk elaborated upon the scenarios employed by Russia to abduct Ukrainian children, the peculiarities and difficulties of their return to Ukraine, and the horrific stories of children who were returned from Russia.

The press conference was also attended by victims of Russian war crimes: Oleh Fedko, whose family was shot during the evacuation, and 10-year-old Illia Matviienko with his grandmother, who lived under fire in Mariupol for about a month and survived a serious injury, and whose mother was killed by Russian forces. Consequently, he was forcibly taken by Russia to non-government-controlled territory and became one of the first children to be returned home.

In addition, Ms. Herasymchuk presented the Bring kids back UA program, a plan to unite the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities, foreign governments, and international organizations to bring all young Ukrainian citizens back home. She also demonstrated the work of the unified state portal Children of War.

Further, journalists from Latin America met with Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets at the Child Rights Protection Center. He spoke about Russian war crimes, including the terrorist attack in Olenivka, violations of the rights of Ukrainian prisoners of war, deportations of children, as well as the involvement of a third party in the return of Ukrainians home and the legal aspects of the crime of genocide.

“It is the example of Olenivka that shows that international institutions are incapable of functioning. That is why we advocate the creation of a new organization that will have a reliable mechanism of influence on the country that holds prisoners of war,” said Dmytro Lubinets.

According to him, 2,576 Ukrainians have been returned home so far, and none of the people returned from captivity told about the presence of ICRC representatives.

The Ombudsman expressed hope that his interview will help residents of Latin American countries learn more about multiple violations of human rights led by Russian forces against Ukrainian civilians and military in times of war.

It should be noted that a separate human rights conference was held for journalists, which included a discussion with Maksym Kolesnykov, Oleksandra Matviichuk (head of the Center for Civil Liberties and Nobel Peace Prize winner), and Serhii Tomilenko (head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine).

The picture of Maksym Kolesnykov, who was released from captivity, holding an apple, went viral and became an iconic photo of Russia’s war against Ukraine. During a conversation with journalists, he spoke about his time in Russian captivity, tortures he survived, and what allowed him, and other Ukrainian defenders maintain psychological stability in captivity.

Oleksandra Matviichuk spoke about the activities of the Center for Civil Liberties, which became the first human rights organization in the world to send its own mobile teams in 2014 to document war crimes in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Now the Center continues to do so in all regions where Russian troops commit crimes.

Also Nobel Peace Prize winner Oleksandra Matviichuk said: “Ukraine is fighting for its freedom and its future. But the current war is a competition between dictatorship and democracy, the outcome of which may determine future peace (or bloody conflicts) in distant countries.”

During a conversation with Latin American journalists, the head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, Serhii Tomilenko, emphasized that the main threat to freedom of speech and the rights of journalists in Ukraine is the Russian occupiers. At the same time, the Ukrainian people have the strength to fight for their rights against the attackers, because Ukraine has strong traditions of freedom of speech. He also presented local newspapers published for Ukrainians from the de-occupied or frontline territories. The stories about journalists from Bakhmut, Lyman, Kherson, Orikhiv, and Snihurivka were particularly moving.

In addition, TDC organized a meeting with Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Anton Korynevych, who spoke about the project to establish an international tribunal to consider the crime of aggression against Ukraine. He noted that Ukraine’s goal is to bring Russia’s political and military leadership to justice for committing the crime of aggression, which is why it is extremely important to document Russia’s war crimes for the further establishment of the Special tribunal.

TDC is implementing the project with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation.