A new report, “When God Becomes The Weapon”, provides a detailed, unsettling first-hand account of religiously motivated persecution in rebel-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine. The report has been prepared by the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) in the framework of the Civic Solidarity Platform.
The new report, which is based on field monitoring undertaken by the CCL and IPHR, documents widespread and serious violations of the rights of non-Orthodox religious believers in the conflict-affected areas of Ukraine. The Orthodox religion is used as an ideological foundation of ‘state building’ by the rebel groups and anything that is non-Russian Orthodox is seen as alien. Since the conflict began in 2014, dozens of places of worship have been seized. Monitors dispatched by the CCL and IPHR have also collected evidence of abductions, unlawful deprivation of liberty, torture and ill-treatment and even killings in the “crusade” against non-Orthodox believers. Because of these attacks believers have been forced to flee or to practice their religion in secret.
The methodology used in preparing the report includes: witness and victim testimony, interviews with clergy from the region and church authorities, interviews with experts and specialists on religion, desk research, as well as an analysis of available audio and video material.
The CCL and IPHR urge the Ukrainian authorities to formalize the process of instituting a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, which would confer jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court for the prosecution of crimes against humanity committed on Ukrainian territory. This would serve the interest of the victims affected by the current conflict, including religious believers, and help put an end to rampant impunity in the region.
The report is available here.