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Ukraine
14.08.20
Urgent Interventions

Attacks against SEMA Ukraine member Valentyna Buchok must stop

Paris-Geneva, August 14, 2020 – On June 20, 2020, women’s rightsdefender Valentyna Buchok was severely injured after a grenade exploded in her backyardin Ivanopillia village in Eastern Ukraine. As a former prisoner in theself-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”, Ms. Buchok has been threatened andattacked before for denouncing torture, arbitrary killings and sexual violenceby her captors. The Observatory (FIDH-OMCT) calls on the competent authoritiesto conduct an impartial, transparent and effective investigation into this andprevious attacks against Ms. Buchok and to ensure her physical integrity andpsychological well-being under any circumstances.

Inthe morning of June 20, 2020, Ms. Valentyna Buchok, a women’s rightsdefender and an active member of the UkrainianSurvivor Network (SEMA Ukraine), was severely injured when a grenadeexploded in her backyard in Ukrainian government-controlled Ivanopilliavillage, Kostiantynivsky District, Donetsk Region. Ms. Buchok was transferredto the hospital with shrapnel injuries to her head, left arm and both legs.Fortunately, no vital organs were hit. At the time ofpublication of this statement, Ms. Buchok has not fully recovered from theattack and still experiences a lot of pain as some shrapnel remains in herbody.

TheObservatory is concerned that the attack could have been an act of reprisal forher public position and speeches[1]following her release from illegal detention in the self-proclaimed “DonetskPeople´s Republic” (“DPR”). Ms. Valentyna Buchok was captured inFebruary 2017, while at work as an electrician in DPR-controlled Donetsk. Shewas wrongfully sentenced to 17 years in prison for “espionage” (under Article321 of the DPR Criminal Code) but released as part of a prisoner exchange inDecember 2017. Since that time, Ms. Valentyna Buchok has been speaking outabout her time in captivity and the human rights abuses committed against herselfand others.

After the June 20 attack, Ms. Buchok’sfriends called the police of the government controlled city of Kostiantynivka,after which Ms. Buchok was officially given victim’s status. TheGeneral PoliceDirectorate of the Donetsk region is now investigating the case for"premeditated murder attempt".

Thiswas not the first time that Ms. Valentyna Buchok was targeted. Twice in thepast there were attempts to kill her. For example, on October 15, 2019, shenarrowly escaped a grenade attack, because her husband spotted the trip wire intime. In addition, many ominous threats have been made against Ms. Buchok,including by spilling blood in her backyard and the killing of her cats.

The Observatory strongly condemns the latest attackagainst Ms. Valentyna Buchok and calls on the Ukrainian authorities toguarantee, under any circumstances, her physical integrity and psychologicalwell-being, and to carry out a transparent, impartial, immediate and thoroughinvestigation into the above-mentioned attacks in order to identify all thoseresponsible, prosecute them before an independent tribunal and provide thevictim with effective remedies. We alsourge the Russian authorities, which wield control over the DPR, to ensure thathuman rights defenders and human rights organisations in Eastern Ukraine areable to carry out their legitimate activities, without any hindrance and fearof reprisals.

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 byFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of thisprogramme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European UnionHuman Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civilsociety.

[1] See for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRv_Ui_A4VQhttps://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/donbas-realii/30684894.html, https://nv.ua/radio/inverythatplace/donbass-plennye-zhenshchiny-stavshie-zhertvami-nasiliya-reportazh-novosti-ukrainy-50060988.html, http://totalaction.org.ua/news/84,https://www.prostir.ua/?news=dosvid-balkan-dlya-ukrajiny-zhinky-yaki-perezhyly-nasylstvo-v-hodi-vijny-obhovoryly-shlyahy-vidnovlennya-spravedlyvosti

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