News / Europe

Amnesty: Abduction, Torture Rampant in Eastern Ukraine

Amnesty: Abduction, Torture Are Rampant in Eastern Ukrainei
Henry Ridgwell
July 11, 2014 10:21 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International says dozens of people in eastern Ukraine have been abducted and tortured by armed pro-Russian separatist groups in recent months. Ukrainian government forces are also accused of abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Amnesty: Abduction, Torture Are Rampant in Eastern Ukraine
Henry Ridgwell

Human rights group Amnesty International says dozens of people in eastern Ukraine have been abducted and tortured by armed pro-Russian separatist groups in recent months. Ukrainian government forces are also accused of abuses.
Several weeks after she was abducted and tortured, pro-Ukrainian activist Hannah still wears bandages to treat her wounds.

She was kidnapped from her Donetsk apartment by pro-Russian separatists and taken away blindfolded. Hannah describes what happened.

“My face was smashed,” she said. “They was trying to beat me everywhere, I was covering myself with my hands. Then they cut my hands and legs with a knife.”

Hannah describes how she was forced to write a separatist slogan on the wall in her own blood.

She says, “The man who was brutalizing me said ‘write with your blood on the wall: I love Donbas'. And he said you can't do this, if you run out of blood, I will shoot you.”

Hannah’s harrowing account is far from unique, according to Amnesty International. Researcher Denis Krivosheev has documented dozens of allegations of torture by separatist groups in eastern Ukraine.

“Mostly, it’s pro-Ukrainian activists - those who insisted that the east is part of Ukraine, who wanted to use Ukrainian flags, who wanted to use Ukrainian flags, shout Ukrainian symbols," Krivosheev said. "They were the ones targeted primarily. But also people who were involved with the presidential elections on 25th May, members of electoral committees, observers. Also, journalists.”

Amnesty says there is an increasing number of pro-Ukrainian activists escaping the east and arriving in the capital Kyiv.

Sasha says he was abducted after attending pro-Kyiv protests in Luhansk last month.

“They told me goodbye they were going to kill me," he said. "One guy with a gun put it to my head and said to go straight to the corridor and don't say anything. Whilst I was walking through the corridor, armed people who were there told me ‘goodbye, they are going to kill you now’.”

Amnesty says many of the alleged kidnap and torture victims are only now coming forward after being freed by Ukrainian forces.

In recent days the Ukrainian military has made territorial gains - forcing pro-Russian separatists from their strongholds in Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. But both Ukrainian government troops and pro-Kyiv activists also stand accused of carrying out abductions and torture - though on a much smaller scale.

Ukraine’s government must end the culture of impunity, says Amnesty’s Denis Krivosheev.

“All over Ukraine, police have been a force whose members have been regularly abusing people’s rights with impunity," said Krivosheev. "And if Kyiv authorities are really intent on reinstating the rule of law and putting the house in order, this is where they need to start.”

Justice may have to wait while the conflict goes on. Pro-Russian separatists are reinforcing their positions in Donetsk and Luhansk. Analysts say any battle for control of those cities would likely cost many lives.

You May Like

Video Obama: Action on Climate Change 'Economic, Security Imperative'

President spoke to reporters on sidelines of UN Climate Summit outside Paris, where leaders are working to agree on binding measures

IMF Bets on China’s Resolve to Reform

IMF announcement already raising questions about just how much Beijing is committed to such reforms

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Sunday pope from: Monrovia
July 12, 2014 12:49 AM
So sad Let god Have Mercy upon Us human.

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 11, 2014 8:39 PM
So Ukrainian forces are freeing people from pro-Russian barabrians, but the pro-Russian barabrians are doing this for freedom. I'm confused?
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 12, 2014 8:24 PM
Sorry, should have elaborated a little more. The pro-Russians are fighting for freedom of the Ukraine oppressive government. But, the pro-Russians are oppesssing people, i.e., abducting, torturing, God know what else! In other words, the pro-Russians are doing things that they were fighting against. That's the confusion. But not actually confused. More of a little sarcasm for all the 'pro-Russian rebel' morons that were commenting on this site about this issue. You were the only one to respond, thanks.

OK, all you 'pro-Russian rebel' defenders, where ya at????

Anyone reading these comments, you will notice that none are from the 'pro-Putin loving' 'pro-rebel defending' idiots that were justifying this conflict to begin with. WHERE ARE THEY???
In Response

by: Don Taco from: Elswhere
July 12, 2014 2:12 AM
Luv the name. Confused about the msg.

by: Peter from: Singapore
July 11, 2014 3:31 PM
Battle to control cities costs many lives that is a very good idea. Democracy need to improve the economy and living standard but not to produce hatre and to destroy the development of the country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs