War in Ukraine: the head of Amnesty International in Kiev resigns

War in Ukraine: the head of Amnesty International in Kiev resigns

The head of Amnesty International in Ukraine, Oksana Pokalchuk, announced her resignation following the NGO’s report accusing the Ukrainian armed forces of endangering civilians, which angered Kiev. “I am resigning from Amnesty International in Ukraine,” she said in a statement on her Facebook page overnight Friday. She criticized the report, published on August 4, for unwittingly serving “Russian propaganda”.

Amnesty had said on Friday that it fully accepted its report accusing the Ukrainian army of endangering civilians in its resistance to the Russian invasion by installing military infrastructure in populated areas. The publication of the document the day before had aroused the ire of Kiev. President Volodymyr Zelensky had gone so far as to accuse the NGO of “trying to amnesty the Russian terrorist state”, by putting “the victim and the aggressor in a certain way on an equal footing”.

Calls not to publish the report

“If you don’t live in a country invaded by occupiers who are fragmenting it, you probably don’t understand what it’s like to condemn an army of defenders,” added the head of Amnesty Ukraine. She said she tried to convince Amnesty International’s management that the report was partial and did not take into account the point of view of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

According to her, Amnesty finally “sent a request to the Ministry of Defense” but “gave it very little time for a response”. “Therefore, the organization unwittingly published a report that involuntarily seemed to support the Russian version. Striving to protect civilians, this report has become a tool of Russian propaganda,” she laments.

In a previous Facebook post, Oksana Pokalchuk claimed that Amnesty had ignored her team’s calls not to publish the report. “Yesterday, I had the naive hope that everything could be arranged and that this text would be replaced by another. But today I realized that this would not happen,” she adds.

Military bases in schools and hospitals

On Friday, the NGO’s secretary General, Agnès Callamard, assured that the report’s conclusions were “based on evidence obtained during large-scale investigations subject to the same rigorous standards and verification processes as all Amnesty International’s work”.

In its report published at the end of a four-month investigation, Amnesty accused the Ukrainian army of establishing military bases in schools and hospitals and launching attacks from populated areas, a tactic it said violated international humanitarian law.

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