Shocking UN report lists crimes by the Ukrainian authorities

From Strategic Culture Foundation

By Arina Tsukanova
June 11, 2016
Shocking UN Report Lists Crimes by the Ukrainian Authorities

The 13th report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Ukraine between 16 November 2015 and 15 February 2016, when the Minsk Agreements were in force, has come as a shock to Kiev.

According to the UN, more than three million people live in the areas directly affected by the conflict. The exact number of people who have left Ukraine-controlled territory is still unknown, although rough estimates range from 800,000 to 1,000,000 people. The Ukrainian government has estimated that more than a million people have left southeast Ukraine for Russia, Belarus and Europe. This figure does not match that of the Russian federal migration service, however: in 2015, around four million Ukrainians crossed the border, with nearly 2.6 million settling in Russia. More than a million people have arrived from southeast Ukraine. Residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are permitted to live freely in Russia.

The discrepancy in the figures clearly shows that Ukraine is not interested in keeping track of its citizens, whether within the country or abroad. This means that one of the aims of the military campaign launched in the east of the country is to displace the population from the area of conflict, predominantly to Russia. Given that refugees from the republics to Ukraine are facing discrimination in access to public services, according to the UN report, the authorities in Kiev do not seem to want the residents of Donbass either.

The UN also states that those living close to the contact line (nearly 800,000 people) are particularly suffering, and the lives of these people are constantly at risk. The UN mission believes that the assistance being given to the residents of Donbass is insufficient, even given Russia’s humanitarian convoys, although the fact that it was Ukraine that shut down all the social programmes and introduced the ‘blockade’ unfortunately remained beyond the scope of the report.

The UN believes that the permit regime introduced by Ukraine and the disorder at checkpoints are negatively reinforcing the isolation of those living in the DPR and LPR. Queues of up to 300-400 cars waiting on either side of the checkpoints are observed on a regular basis and this recently ended in tragedy. Due to the fact that the Ukrainian checkpoint is not open at night, civilians who had been queuing in their cars overnight were fired at by the Ukrainian side using illegal-calibre weapons (122 mm), resulting in the deaths of five people, including a pregnant woman.

During the period covered in the report, the Ukrainian armed forces have advanced even further into populated areas and the numerous attacks on the residential areas of Horlivka, Shakhtarsk and Debaltseve are also mentioned in the report.

Since the Minsk ceasefire agreements entered into force (i.e. since 15 February 2015), there have been 843 civilian casualties – 235 killed (216 adults and 19 children) and 608 injured (554 adults and 44 children). At the same time, the UN mission notes that it is unable to attribute some of the victims to either side of the conflict. It also emphasises that the real number of those killed and injured could be higher than that given in the report.

The number of people missing is particularly shocking. The Ukrainian side has reported 741 persons missing, while the DPR has registered 420 missing persons. In addition, the UN mission has ascertained that approximately 1,000 bodies held in morgues in government-controlled territory have still not been identified.

And once again the numbers are crying out that the Ukrainian government does not believe people to be important. The number of persons that Kiev has declared missing is a third less than the number of unidentified bodies! And the numbers also ignore the mortal remains in areas where hostilies took place – search operations are virtually non-existent. As the UN report states, there is not even a dedicated mechanism in place to gather statements from the relatives of missing persons.

The UN mission has also not taken into account the number of unmarked graves in cemeteries. The overwhelming majority of missing persons should not be looked for in the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, but among the thousands of bodies that have already been quietly buried or are still lying in morgues. It is possible that the official number of those who will never return has been hugely underestimated.

The efforts of the Ukrainian side aimed at searching for and identifying those killed and those missing are referred to in the UN report using the word «inaction».

Kiev cannot admit that to avoid responsibility, it is secretly carrying out a policy of ‘unidentified bodies’. It is also being suggested to relatives that missing persons are being held captive by DPR and LPR ‘separatists’.

The report concedes that some people recorded as missing may be alive, but are being held in secret places of detention either in the republics or in Ukrainian-controlled territory.

The UN mission has finally figured out that the secret prisons and torture in Ukraine are an established system that has become part of the state and its policies. Of the 1,925 criminal investigations launched into allegations of torture in 2015, 1,450 were closed.

The report has also provided yet more evidence that it is not a civil war. It is a war between those who seized power by means of a military coup and the people of Ukraine, a war that is hypocritically being referred to as an ‘anti-terrorist operation’.

As noted in the report,

throughout the country, OHCHR continued to receive allegations of enforced disappearances, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, and torture and ill-treatment of people accused by the Ukrainian authorities of ‘trespassing territorial integrity’, ‘terrorism’ or related offenses, or of individuals suspected of being members of, or affiliated with, the armed groups.

People are not just being tortured, but are also being executed without trial. In Sloviansk, for example, the basement of the local college is being used for this purpose. A basement used for torture and summary executions was also discovered by UN inspectors in Izium, Kharkiv district. In addition, «a network of unofficial places of detention, often located in the basement of regional SBU buildings, have been identified». The SBU also has such basements in Odessa and Kharkiv. In February 2016, between 20 to 30 people were detained in the basement of the Kharkiv regional SBU building, and the vast majority of prisoners were not arrested in accordance with legal procedures and were not charged.

The report also notes that the SBU obtains confessions of terrorism using torture, and those who sign the confessions are told that should they complain, then their families, including their children, will also be made to suffer. The Security Service of Ukraine refers to such methods as the use of «proportional» and «justified» force.

The 13th report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Ukraine appeared on 3 March 2016, but it is only now that the information bomb has exploded following an article in The Times, in which Ivan Simonovic, UN assistant secretary-general for human rights, talks about the report and also about five secret SBU prisons that a delegation of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture was not allowed access to, resulting in the delegation cutting short its visit to Ukraine…

The 13th report also completely destroys the myth that there are thousands of prisoners in the DPR and LPR. There is no trace of the thousands – in February 2016, the SBU gave the UN mission a list of 136 people who are allegedly being detained in custody in the republics, but nothing is known about this for sure. The list provided by the DPR authorities, however, looks completely different. «Some 1,110 persons were detained by the Government of Ukraine, including 363 members of the armed groups. This includes 577 people arrested for ‘their political views’ and 170 civilians ‘who have nothing to do with the conflict’», says the UN report. The SBU has gone overboard by essentially creating a system of concentration camps. The UN report likens the actions of the SBU to the seizure of hostages.

It has been impossible to keep the scandal hushed up, but while this regime exists in Ukraine, investigations into its criminal activities will be carried out along the same lines as the investigations into the people burned alive in Odessa on 2 May 2014. Namely that the executioners will remain free or under house arrest while the victims are imprisoned. For years.


http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/06/11/shocking-un-report-lists-crimes-ukrainian-authorities.html

http://www.globalresearch.ca/shocking-un-report-lists-crimes-by-the-ukrainian-authorities/5530494

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Argo vs. Waking up in Tehran — what happened in 1979? Hollywood propaganda vs. historical reality

The book Waking Up in Tehran by Margot Lachlan White, which David Swanson describes as a “magnificent modern epic”, was apparently never published. What happened to her and the book? It is not hard to imagine the pressure from Israel and the United States to make sure it did not see the light of day, especially in light of the experiences she describes. There are a few reviews online and a podcast interview.

It’s more timely than ever to get this book published and/or posted online.

Posted on War is a Crime.org, January 11, 2013
Waking up in Tehran
by David Swanson

According to one theory, U.S.-Iranian relations began around November 1979 when a crowd of irrational religious nutcases violently seized the U.S. embassy in Iran, took the employees hostage, tortured them, and held them until scared into freeing them by the arrival of a new sheriff in Washington, a man named Ronald Reagan.  From that day to this, according to this popular theory, Iran has been run by a bunch of subhuman lunatics with whom rational people couldn’t really talk if they wanted to.  These monsters only understand force.  And they have been moments away from developing and using nuclear weapons against us for decades now.  Moments away, I tell you!

According to another theory — a quaint little notion that I like to refer to as “verifiable history” — the CIA, operating out of that U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1953, maliciously and illegally overthrew a relatively democratic and liberal parliamentary government, and with it the 1951 Time magazine man of the year Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, because Mossadegh insisted that Iran’s oil wealth enrich Iranians rather than foreign corporations.  The CIA installed a dictatorship run by the Shah of Iran who quickly became a major source of profits for U.S. weapons makers, and his nation a testing ground for surveillance techniques and human rights abuses.  The U.S. government encouraged the Shah’s development of a nuclear energy program.  But the Shah impoverished and alienated the people of Iran, including hundreds of thousands educated abroad.  A secular pro-democracy revolution nonviolently overthrew the Shah in January 1979, but it was a revolution without a leader or a plan for governing.  It was co-opted by rightwing religious forces led by a man who pretended briefly to favor democratic reform.  The U.S. government, operating out of the same embassy despised by many in Iran since 1953, explored possible means of keeping the Shah in power, but some in the CIA worked to facilitate what they saw as the second best option: a theocracy that would substitute religious fanaticism and oppression for populist and nationalist demands.  When the U.S. embassy was taken over by an unarmed crowd the next November, immediately following the public announcement of the Shah’s arrival in the United States, and with fears of another U.S.-led coup widespread in Tehran, a sit-in planned for two or three days was co-opted, as the whole revolution had been, by mullahs with connections to the CIA and an extremely anti-democratic agenda.  They later made a deal with U.S. Republicans, as Robert Parry and others have well documented, to keep the hostage crisis going until Carter lost the 1980 presidential election to Ronald Reagan.  Reagan’s government secretly renewed weapons sales to the new Iranian dictatorship despite its public anti-American stance and with no more concern for its religious fervor than for that of future al Qaeda leaders who would spend the 1980s fighting the Soviets with U.S. weapons in Afghanistan.  At the same time, the Reagan administration made similarly profitable deals with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq, which had launched a war on Iran and continued it with U.S. support through the length of the Reagan presidency.  The mad military investment in the United States that took off with Reagan and again with George W. Bush, and which continues to this day, has made the nation of Iran — which asserts its serious independence from U.S. rule — a target of threatened war and actual sanctions and terrorism.

Ben Affleck was asked by Rolling Stone magazine, “What do you think the Iranians’ reaction is gonna be?” to Affleck’s movie Argo, which depicts a side-story about six embassy employees who, in 1979, avoided being taken hostage.  Affleck, mixing bits of truth and mythology, just as in the movie itself, replied:

“Who the FUCK knows – who knows if their reaction is going to be anything? This is still the same Stalinist, oppressive regime that was in place when the hostages were taken. There was no rhyme or reason to this action. What’s interesting is that people later figured out that Khomeini just used the hostages to consolidate power internally and marginalize the moderates and everyone in America was going, ‘What the fuck’s wrong with these people?’ You know, ‘What do they want from us?’ It was because it wasn’t about us. It was about Khomeini holding on to power and being able to say to his political opponents, of which he had many, ‘You’re either with us or you’re with the Americans’ – which is, of course, a tactic that works really well. That revolution was a students’ revolution. There were students and communists and secularists and merchants and Islamists, it’s just that Khomeini fucking slowly took it for himself.”

The takeover of the embassy is an action virtually no one would advocate in retrospect, but asserting that it lacked rhyme or reason requires willful ignorance of Iranian-U.S. relations.  Claiming that nobody knew what the hostage-takers wanted requires erasing from history their very clear demands for the Shah to be returned to stand trial, for Iranian money in U.S. banks to be returned to Iran, and for the United States to commit to never again interfering in Iranian politics.  In fact, not only were those demands clearly made, but they are almost indisputably reasonable demands.  A dictator guilty of murder, torture, and countless other abuses should have stood trial, and should have been extradited to do so, as required by treaty.  Money belonging to the Iranian government under a dictatorship should have been returned to a new Iranian government, not pocketed by a U.S. bank.  And for one nation to agree not to interfere in another’s politics is merely to agree to compliance with the most fundamental requirement of legal international relations.

Argo devotes its first 2 minutes or so to the 1953 background of the 1979 drama.  Blink and you’ll miss it, as I’m betting most viewers do.  For a richer understanding of what was happening in Iran in the late 1970s and early 1980s I have a better recommendation than watching Argo.  For a truly magnificent modern epic I strongly encourage getting a hold of the forthcoming masterpiece by M. Lachlan White, titled Waking Up in Tehran: Love and Intrigue in Revolutionary Iran, due to be published this spring.  Weighing in at well over 300,000 words, or about 100,000 more than Moby Dick, Waking Up in Tehran is the memoir of Margot White, an American human rights activist who became an ally of pro-democracy Iranian student groups in 1977, traveled to Iran, supported the revolution, met with the hostage-takers in the embassy, became a public figure, worked with the Kurdish resistance when the new regime attacked the Kurds for being infidels, married an Iranian, and was at home with her husband in Tehran when armed representatives of the government finally banged on the door.  I’m not going to give away what happened next.  This book will transport you into the world of a gripping novel, but you’ll emerge with a political, cultural, and even linguistic education.  This is an action-adventure that would, in fact, make an excellent movie — or even a film trilogy.  It’s also an historical document.

There are sections in which White relates conversations with her friends and colleagues in Iran, including their speculations as to who was behind what government intrigue.  A few of these speculations strike me as in need of more serious support.  They also strike me as helpful in understanding the viewpoints of Iranians at the time.  Had I edited this book I might have framed them a little differently, but I wouldn’t have left them out.  I wouldn’t have left anything out.  This is a several-hundred-page love letter from a woman to her husband and from an activist to humanity.  It is intensely romantic and as honest as cold steel.  It starts in 1977.

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