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    NewsAsiaWar in Ukraine: what does the NGO Amnesty International accuse kyiv of?

    War in Ukraine: what does the NGO Amnesty International accuse kyiv of?

    The NGO points in a report to the presence of Ukrainian soldiers in civilian areas, making surrounding homes targets for the Russians, which contravenes international humanitarian law.

    In a report published Thursday after a four-month investigation, the NGO Amnesty International accused the Ukrainian army of establishing military bases in schools and hospitals and launching attacks from populated areas. A tactic which, according to her, violates international humanitarian law, and endangers civilians.

    “We have documented a tendency for Ukrainian forces to endanger civilians and violate the laws of war when operating in populated areas,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International. But “being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian army from the obligation to respect international humanitarian law”, she added.

    Between April and July, Amnesty International researchers investigated Russian strikes in the regions of Kharkiv (east), Donbass and Mykolaiv (south-east), inspecting sites hit by strikes and interviewing survivors, witnesses and relatives of victims.

    The NGO says it found evidence that Ukrainian forces launched attacks from populated residential areas and had sometimes established bases in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages in these regions.

    Attacks from civilian areas

    Most of the residential areas where the soldiers were located were located kilometers from the front lines, Amnesty notes, stressing that the army would have “yet had the possibility of settling in other places which would not have put in danger to the civilian population, such as military bases or nearby densely wooded areas, or other structures still located far from residential areas.”

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    We can read in the report testimonies of people who lived next to houses from which Ukrainian soldiers carried out operations against Russian forces, and sometimes launched fire. Residents say they were later bombarded in return, sometimes deadly attacks.

    All these assaults carried out from civilian areas by the Ukrainian army “exposed these neighborhoods to retaliatory strikes by Russian forces”, writes Amnesty International.

    This while “international humanitarian law provides that all parties to a conflict must avoid positioning, as far as possible, military objectives in densely populated areas or near such areas.”

    Military bases in schools and hospitals

    Amnesty International also claims that Ukrainian forces have established military bases in schools and hospitals. “The use of hospitals for military purposes constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law, writes the NGO. And even if “schools have been temporarily closed for students since the beginning of the conflict, in most cases, these buildings were near areas inhabited” by civilians, the report explains.

    However, “armed conflicts considerably harm the exercise of the right to education for children, and the use of educational establishments for military purposes can lead to destruction which still deprives children of this right after the war.”

    Amnesty International also points out that Ukraine is among the countries that have approved the Safe Schools Statement which aims, among other things, to “restrict the use of schools and universities for military purposes”.

    However, the NGO specifies that in other cases “Russia had committed war crimes, in particular in certain sectors of the city of Kharkiv, without having found evidence that the Ukrainian forces had settled in civilian areas. illegally targeted by the Russian military.”

    The non-evacuation of civilians

    If the Ukrainian army cannot, for various reasons, base itself elsewhere than in these residential areas, “in this case it must inform the civilian population, evacuate and help evacuation of the civilian population”, explains on BFMTV Jean-Claude Samoeiller, president of Amnesty International France.

    However, the NGO indicates that, to its knowledge, the soldiers who settled in these residential areas did not ask those present to evacuate, “thus refraining from taking all possible precautions to protect the civilian population.”

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    On Twitter, the adviser to the Ukrainian presidency Mikhaïlo Podoliak however assured that “the lives of the people” were “the priority of Ukraine” and that on the cities close to the front, the populations were evacuated. “Ukraine clearly adheres to all laws of war and international humanitarian law,” he said in a statement.

    For Amnesty International, Ukraine must “immediately take the necessary measures to place its forces away from inhabited areas, and to evacuate civilians in areas where the army is conducting operations”. It must also only use schools and hospitals as a base, in “the absence of any other viable solution”, declared Agnès Callamard.

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    Russian attacks remain ‘unwarranted’

    President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the report on Thursday evening, declaring that the NGO “transfers the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim” and accusing it of “attempting to grant amnesty to the terrorist state” of Russia.

    “The aggression against our state is unjustified, invasive and terrorist. If someone writes a report in which the victim and the aggressor are in some way put on an equal footing, if certain data on the victim is analyzed and the actions of the aggressor ignored, this cannot be tolerated,” added the head of state.

    “Amnesty International does not put Russia and Ukraine on the same footing, there is an aggressor, who violated the UN charter, and an attacked who is Ukraine”, answers Jean-Claude Samoeiller.

    If Amnesty denounces these Ukrainian tactics, it insists on several occasions in its report on the fact that they “in no way justify the blind Russian attacks” which have hit the civilian populations.

    Salome Vincendon with AFP BFMTV journalist

    Source: BFM TV

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