Saturday, 19 April 2014 14:58
In Sloviansk, Eastern Ukraine, separatists began riots targeted at Roma residing in the city. The armed separatists burst into houses inhabited by Roma, beat and robbed them regardless of gender or age, UNIAN reports. According to this report, they have beaten even women and children. Separatists said that they operate under the direct order of their ‘people’s mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev’. The armed men loaded the property of Roma families into a truck, eyewitnesses say.
In times of military and political conflict, the most vulnerable groups are the minorities. They are often made to be victims of massacres and are the first hostages of actions made by aggressors.
During World War II, the Roma became the second largest nation suffering from the actions of the Nazis. During World War II, more than 500,000 Roma were exterminated. In Ukraine they were among the first victims of the mass tragedy at Babiy Yar.
In order to intimidate and destabilize the situation in Eastern Ukraine, the separatists choose the most vulnerable group of people as their target. Ukrainian and international communities must respond immediately to prevent separatists’ ethnic cleansing attempts in the area of Sloviansk.
For many years, The International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) has supported comprehensive integration of the Roma people into Ukraine’s social life, at the same time strengthening the Roma’s cultural identity. The IRF urges the Ombudsman of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Ministries of Culture and Social Policy to verify the information on Roma pogroms in Sloviansk, and take all necessary steps to stop violence against Roma, as well any kind of human rights abuses based on ethnic grounds.
Yevhen Bystrytsky, Executive Director of International Renaissance Foundation
Olga Zhmurko, Director of Roma of Ukraine Program Initiative of International Renaissance Foundation