Amnesty Ukraine chief resigns after Amnesty report accuses Ukraine of endangering victims

Amnesty Ukraine chief resigns after Amnesty report accuses Ukraine of endangering victims
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky. Credit: Belga

Amnesty International's head of human rights in Ukraine, Oksana Pokalchuk,  resigned on Friday after a report earlier this week accused the Ukrainian army of endangering civilians in the war with Russia

Pokalchuk said that the head office had no reaction to the Ukrainian office's opposition to the report.

"As it is now written, it looks like support for Russian propaganda. In an effort to protect civilians, this report has become Russian propaganda," Pokalchuk said on Facebook.

"It pains me to admit this, but we disagreed with the leadership of Amnesty International, so I have decided to leave the organization."

According to Pokalchuk, the Ukrainian branch of Amnestry had called for the position of Ukrainian defence to be carefully examined. But in the end that didn't happen.

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Instead, Amnesty International wrote on Thursday that the Ukrainian army is endangering civilians by shelling the Russian army from residential areas and fighting in populated areas.

The report continued that Ukrainian soldiers have set up bases and deployed weapon systems, which have been used to fire at the enemy from schools and hospitals. Subsequent Russian attacks on populated Ukrainian areas have killed civilians and destroyed much civilian infrastructure.

According to Amnesty chief Agnès Callamard, there is "a pattern" in the embattled regions of Charkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv that Amnesty has examined.

Callamard claimed that "Ukrainian fighting tactics endanger civilians. The authorities should immediately locate its forces away from populated areas, or evacuate civilians from where the military is operating."

A Ukrainian political communications professional, denounced the report.

"I told myself I wouldn’t wish war upon anybody, but dear god I wish for a second you felt what we feel on a daily basis. I wish you knew what you’re advising," said Melaniya Podolyak in a Twitter thread on Thursday.

"I wish you felt the despair of Ukrainians who saw their military being forced to retreat and leaving them on their own."

On Thursday, President Volodimir Zelensky also strongly criticized the report. "The responsibility is thus shifted from the aggressor to the victim." With the report, "the human rights organization is trying to justify Russian terror," Zelensky said.

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