The head of the Ukrainian office of Amnesty International resigns after their official report
Oksana Pokalchuk explained that they disagreed with the leadership of Amnesty International on values.
The head of the Ukrainian office of Amnesty International, Oksana Pokalchuk, leaves her post after the organisation’s report.
Oksana Pokalchuk announced this on Facebook.
“I am resigning from Amnesty International in Ukraine. This is another loss that the war brought me. Favourite work, 7 years of life, plans for the future, and the last 5 months – a lifeline in the form of human rights work for the benefit of the native country during the war. Everything crashed against the wall of bureaucracy and a deaf language barrier. It’s not about English, it’s about the fact that if you don’t live in a country invaded by invaders and are tearing it to pieces, you probably don’t understand what it’s like to condemn an army of defenders. And no words in any language can convey this to someone who has not felt this pain.
I joined Amnesty International in Ukraine almost 7 years ago because, first of all, I shared the organisation’s values. Amnesty International is more than 10 million people worldwide and hundreds of activists in Ukraine, it is an instrument of influence on countries, on the authorities and people’s perception of various social problems in the world. This organisation has powerful human rights defenders, and activists who move the sun and the planets to protect human rights in the world’s most remote corners.
Since the beginning of the full-scale aggression, we have not stopped emphasizing the human rights violations and international humanitarian law committed by Russia, the aggressor country. We thoroughly document these violations, and they will form the basis of numerous legal proceedings and help bring those responsible to justice. For example, I am convinced that our investigation of the attack on the Drama Theater in Mariupol will become strong evidence and help punish the perpetrators of this terrible, inhumane crime. And in almost 6 months, we have published a number of scrupulous and high-quality studies.
I want to emphasize this because it is essential. It is not about international or local human rights organisations not recording the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces. The principle of independence and impartiality in such work is important, after all, this is precisely why international and national human rights organisations exist. But such important reports, which are published at such a moment and in such a context, cannot fail to contain data about the other side of the war, about the one who started this war.
We, from the side of the Ukrainian office, constantly emphasized that the press release that the organisation issued on August 4 should have at least investigated two sides and taken into account the position of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. As we noted, Amnesty International representatives eventually asked the Ministry of Defense for a response but gave very little time for a reply. As a result, without wanting it, the organization created material that sounded like support for Russian narratives. Seeking to protect civilians, this research instead became a tool of Russian propaganda.
Over the past few days, my colleagues and I have been actively conducting outreach work within the organisation. I spoke with Amnesty representatives from dozens of countries around the world so that the position of Ukraine and Ukrainians would be heard. Also, I have repeatedly talked with the top management, which, unfortunately, in this situation, did not take appropriate steps to protect the interests of the people for whose benefit the organization and the entire human rights movement works. In addition to the lack of a proper response, there was a major activism initiative by people worldwide who were outraged by this press release.
It pains me to admit it, but the leadership of Amnesty International and I parted ways. Therefore, I decided to leave the organisation. I believe that any work for the good of society should be done by taking into account the local context and thinking through the consequences. And most importantly, I am convinced that our research should be done carefully and with people in mind, whose lives often directly depend on the words and actions of international organisations.
I am leaving with the hope that we, Ukrainian men and women, representatives of civil society, will be able to change the international community’s attitude towards Ukraine through our actions and active position. We will be able to move international organisations, make them more humane, more flexible, and effectively respond to crises not only in Ukraine, but also in the whole world: where dictatorships and despots seek to seize free people by force.” – Pokalchuk wrote.
In addition, Amnesty International Ukraine speaker Yekaterina Miteva resigned. She stressed that the Ukrainian office urged the head office of the organisation not to publish the scandalous report.
Recall that Amnesty International published a report that follows that Ukrainian troops violate the laws of war by placing military equipment and weapons in schools, hospitals, and residential areas.
The secretary general of the human rights organisation Agnes Kalamar, in turn, reacted to criticism of the peace report. She stated they are being attacked on social networks by Ukrainian and Russian bots and trolls. And that criticism “will not weaken the impartiality” of the organisation.