8 July 2014
Since the activation of the Eastern Ukrainian separatist movements and the so-called declaration of Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’ (DNR, LNR), Christians in the eastern regions, especially evangelical organisations, are increasingly becoming victims of religious persecution.
The premeditated attacks by armed militants against evangelicals include abductions, beatings, torture, threats of execution, pogroms of places of prayer meetings, capture of prayer houses, rehabilitation centers and other places of worship and ancillary facilities, personal injuries and vandalism of the personal property of pastors and priests.
During May and June 2014 the abduction of people and the beating of evangelical pastors and ministers took place in Sloviansk, Horlivka, Donetsk and Druzhkivka. DNR and LNR terrorists not only disrupted the religious activities of evangelical Christians, but also captured the houses of worship to accommodate their own staff, and also to use them as hospitals and for gun placements. Such incidents have occurred repeatedly in Donetsk, Horlivka, Sloviansk, Shakhtarsk, Druzhkivka, Torez in the Donetsk Oblast, as well as in the Luhansk Oblast as well.
Moreover, on June 14 as the result of a suicide attack on a bridge in Mariupol DNR militants killed the pastor of the Renewal Church, Serhiy Skorobohach, who also chaired the city’s council of churches.
The Council of Evangelical Protestant Churches of Ukraine condemns all discrimination and religious persecution of believers in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, irrespective of the motives they use to justify their actions.
Religious intolerance and hostility are not an inherent feature of Ukrainian society in which, for more than 20 years, more than 50 religious communities have coexisted and maintained a peaceful cooperation. Freedom of religion is an achievement of our independent Ukraine, which is why in our country an inter-religious peace and harmony has developed.
We call upon the international community, including the monitoring missions of the UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe and the European Union to make efforts to prevent the continuation and escalation of religious intolerance in those territories of Eastern Ukraine, controlled by armed separatists. We are convinced that the entire international community must condemn the oppression of religious freedom in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, which now includes physical violence against those who do not think in the same manner as the terrorists, and which includes a real threat to the life of evangelical Christians in the east of Ukraine.
We ask believers all around the world join in our prayers for peace in the east of Ukraine, to stop terrorism and bloodshed, to restore a normal life and the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens living in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, regardless of their nationality, religion, language and worldview.
Signed by members of the Council of Evangelical Protestant Churches of Ukraine and promulgated in Kyiv on July 8, 2014:
- Anatoliy Havryliuk, Senior Bishop of the Center of Independent Charismatic Christian Churches of Ukraine (Full Gospel);
- Valeriy Antoniuk, Chairman of the Ukrainian Union of Churches of Evangelical Christian-Baptists;
- Mykhailo Panochko, Senior Bishop of the Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith of Ukraine;
- Vasyl Raychynets, Senior Pastor of the Union of Free Churches of Christians of the Evangelical Faith of Ukraine;
- Serhiy Shaptala, Chairman of the Brotherhood of Independent Churches and Missions of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Ukraine;
- Serhiy Datsko, Chairman of the Association of the Missionary Churches of Evangelical Christians of Ukraine;
- Mykola Salamakha, Deputy Senior Bishop of the Ukrainian Christian Evangelical Church;
- Viacheslav Horpynchuk, Bishop of the Ukrainian Lutheran Church;
- Anatoliy Kalyuzhnyi, Senior Pastor of the Council of Independent Evangelical Churches of Ukraine.
Translated by Julia Vituk, edited by Myron Spolsky
Source in Russian: irs.in.ua