Виступ делегації України на засіданні РБ ООН за формулою Арріа щодо захисту релігійних меншин в умовах збройних конфліктів

Виступ делегації України на засіданні РБ ООН за формулою Арріа щодо захисту релігійних меншин в умовах збройних конфліктів

Madame Chair,

Thank you and other co-sponsors for this meeting, which clearly shows that the issue under discussion only gains in relevance.

Having joined the EU statement, let me stress right away how strongly Ukraine condemns all acts of violence against religious and other minorities – wherever and whomsoever committed, regardless of their motivation.

My delegation is a proud co-sponsor of the respective GA resolution (“International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief”). Here I would like to express once again our appreciation to main sponsors of this very timely document.

Picking up on this meeting’s specific emphasis on religious minorities in armed conflicts, I would like to very briefly share our own experience.

The ongoing Russian aggression against my country and temporary occupation of parts of Ukrainian territory are accompanied by systemic discriminatory acts, persecutions and tortures, which flagrantly violate human rights of Ukrainian citizens on religious grounds.

The Russian occupying authorities in Crimea, as well as in some parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, mounted a broad campaign against Ukrainians on the ground of their religion or beliefs.

According to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, in the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions “all faith traditions, except for the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, appear to be targeted by the armed groups through the persecution and detention of clergy members and believers, as well as the seizure of church property”.

Russian occupation authorities in Donbas even invented so-called legalization – the replication of the Russian one, requiring all religious organizations, except the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, to undergo re-registration. So far, due to these illegal requirements, more than 1000 religious groups – recognized under Ukrainian law – are not able to function in the occupied Donbas.

Turning to Crimea, in 2017 the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission reported that before the occupation of peninsular in 2014, there were 2083 religious organizations; as of September 2017 only 722 survived mentioned campaign.

For the past two years, the situation in Crimea further deteriorated. Massive raids against Muslims, carried out by the occupying power, resulted in dozens of arrests and detentions of innocent people under false accusations.

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine is being permanently pressed out of the occupied peninsular. This March, pursuing its policy of intimidation and persecution, the Russian occupying authorities resorted to detention of Archbishop Klyment of Simferopol and Crimea – leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox community in Crimea – on trumped-up allegations. Moreover, this April the Russian occupying power has initiated the expropriation of the last cathedral of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in Simferopol, Crimea, and less than a month ago even plundered its premises.

In this regard, we urge the Russian Federation to stop immediately all acts of religious discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions on the occupied territories, restore their rights, including property rights, and bring those responsible for violations and abuses to account.

By doing so, it will contribute a great deal to advancing the safety and security of persons belonging to religious minorities in armed conflict.

As for Ukraine, we will persevere in guaranteeing a fundamental freedom of religion or belief of all our citizens, which is part and parcel of our state policy.

I thank you.