Civil rights and minority protection must be enforced in the Ukraine

Europe-wide campaign concerning the European Championship (UEFA EURO):

Before and during the European Football Championships in the Ukraine, EU-polititians should make use of the increased attention to urge the Ukrainian government to observe minority rights and to release Yulia Tymoshenko. This week, the STP will send a letter expressing these concerns to all EU-parliamentarians. Hereby, the human rights organization is particularly concerned about the rights of the Roma people, the Crimean Tatars and the Jewish community.

According to the STP, there are about 300,000 to 400,000 Roma living in the Ukraine. Many of them have no identity papers. As they cannot present any ID, they are not allowed to work legally and children cannot attend school without their parents holding a birth certificate. The Roma are seriously discriminated in all aspects of daily life. 90% are without work and the illiteracy rate of the Roma people ranks at over 50%. Many Roma have fallen ill without having access to a public health system. They repeatedly become victims of arbitrary police operations and oppression.

With about 280,000 people, the Crimean Tatars represent around 12% of the population of Crimea. In 1944, Stalin deported about 180,000 of their ancestors to Central Asia with a third of them getting killed. Since 1989, the Crimean Tatars have been returning back to their former homeland, but – according to the STP – they are often discriminated by the media and in public. Crimean Tatars are extremely underrepresented in the police force and in bureaucracy and politics. Their unemployment rate is twice as high as for the population majority. Many families cannot afford to buy enough food and only one out of ten Crimean Tatar children is able to be educated in their native language.

According to the STP, some politicians still use anti-Semitic rhetoric to denigrate opponents and to win over the public opinion – even though the Ukrainian state has already undergone some effort to support the Jewish community. Also, the authorities often fail to adequately punish vandalism on Jewish cemeteries and anti-Semitic graffiti. The anti-Semites are using the internet as a platform for their agitation. To stop this, the authorities should exercise more control.

The STP's letter closes with the appeal: "Please accept this letter as a recommendation to demand the observance of civil and human rights and the rights of the Roma people, the Crimean Tatars and the Jews and please show commitment to the release of Yulia Tymoshenko!"