Martedì 12 novembre a Roma, presso Spazio Europa, si è tenuta la proiezione in anteprima del documentario “INVISIBILI” sul caso dei prigionieri civili ucraini in Russia e nei territori temporaneamente occupati. Oggi circa 7.000 civili ucraini sono detenuti illegalmente in carceri russe o nei territori temporaneamente occupati, solitamente in condizioni insostenibili, senza accesso ad assistenza medica, con scarsità di acqua potabile e prodotti igienici, sottoposti ad abusi sessuali e psicologici o torturati durante gli interrogatori, privi della protezione di avvocati indipendenti. Le organizzazioni internazionali non sono autorizzate a monitorare tali luoghi di detenzione: quindi i prigionieri civili continuano a rimanere invisibili al mondo. Il documentario “INVISIBLE” (realizzato da HR Production e dall’associazione per i diritti umani “SICH” con il supporto della Deutsche Welle Akademie e dell’UE) è composto da tre storie – su un attivista civico di Kherson, un volontario di Mariupol e un adolescente ucraino di 14 anni della regione di Kherson che furono catturati dai russi. Sono sopravvissuti alla fame, alle percosse, ai lavori forzati e alla tortura elettrica; dopo essere stati rilasciati, hanno deciso di fare tutto il possibile per assicurare i colpevoli alla giustizia. La consapevolezza pubblica unita al sostegno internazionale è estremamente importante per aiutare i prigionieri civili a diventare visibili.
La proiezione del documentaria è stata anticipata da una discussione organizzata da FIDU, insieme all’Ambasciata d’Ucraina in Italia e all’associazione per i diritti umani SICH. Riportiamo qui alcuni messaggi chiave degli interventi:
Alessandra Marino, Head of the press office of the Representation in Italy of the European Commission, opened the event by welcoming all for coming to the initiative and mentioning the mission of the EU to support peace and human rights. She indicated the importance to shed light on what is happening in Ukraine, including among else making visible the issue of civil Ukrainian prisoners.
Antonio Stango, President of the Italian Federation for Human Rights highlighted the role of the European Union to support Ukraine resisting the war started by the Russian Federation in 2014, its illegal annexations, and the large scale-invasion since February 2022. He said that, while the citizens of the EU will vote for the European Parliament next year, the vast majority of the Ukrainian population showed clearly as in a vote to be in favor of joining the EU with the Euromaidan events ten years before, and have been since confirming their choice while striving for their freedom and for the freedom of the whole Europe. Stango concluded his speech by emphasizing the need of implementing the international justice and stating that a crucial element in order to contrast the hybrid war is the fight against disinformation.
Olha Volynska, journalist, director of Development of Human Rights Protection Group “SICH”, noted that it is difficult to know the exact number of civil Ukrainians who have been illegally abducted and detained by the occupying forces, because the Russian Federation keep them invisible knowing that this is an international crime. Today thousands of Ukrainian civilians are illegally held in Russian captivity, experiencing both physical and phycological torture and ill-treatment. “SICH” has been documenting Russian war crimes since 2016 and provides free legal assistance to victims and family of those who have been captured. Volynska emphasized that civilians are kidnapped on the sole reasoning of being Ukrainians and any manifestation of the Ukrainian position is a deadly crime for the occupiers. The victims are different people: men and women, including also minors and elders. They are typically accused of “international terrorism”, “espionage” and “obstructing the special operation” – as the Russian government calls the war. The victims have no access to legal and medical assistance. As a director and scriptwriter of the documentary “Invisible”, Olha said that it aims to raise awareness on the Russian war crimes and to make the invisible civilians become visible, while a legal mechanism to support them should be activated.
Vitalia Serebrianska, a lawyer at Human Rights Protection Group “SICH” based in Dnipro, illustrated her work, aimed at helping casualties of the Russian war against Ukraine such as civilians illegally held by Russia, prisoners of war and relatives of the victims. Civilians are frequently held captive on Russian soil, in inhumane conditions. Serebrianska emphasized the importance of raising awareness about this situation, hoping that the pressure of the international community would facilitate the release of the prisoners. In her opinion, it’s necessary to demand from Russia the lists of civilians it holds in captivity and that they be handed over to Ukraine, the UN or a third intermediary country that will facilitate their return to Ukraine. Also, access should be provided to monitor the places of detention where Ukrainians are held in the occupied territories and in Russian Federation. And, of course, everyone involved in the illegal abductions, detentions, and torture should be held accountable.
Eleonora Mongelli, Vice President of FIDU, addressed the importance of making the available mechanisms of international justice effective and enforceable in order to help Ukraine address the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian Federation. We need to shed light on the situation in the occupied territories to ensure justice for the victims and hold the responsible accountable, support the ICC and work towards releasing civilians in captivity. Mongelli mentioned the Council of Europe Summit held in Reykjavik in May, and the decision to create a register of damage for Ukraine as first step towards an international compensation mechanism for victims of the Russian aggression. The Register, she added, is an important milestone on the road to justice and reparations for Ukraine and for Ukrainians and refers particularly to actions perpetrated against civilians, infrastructure, historical and cultural heritage, and damage to the environment. The register is only the first step towards the establishment of a comprehensive compensation mechanism to ensure that Russia pays full reparations to Ukraine in accordance with international law. She also highlighted the importance of creating an international tribunal to address the crime of aggression, with a comprehensive approach that needs support and cooperation by all democratic countries.
Oles Horodetskyy dealt with the problem of the diasporas, bringing to light the condition of hundreds of people, who have relatives in Ukraine and are unaware of their location or their state of health. He said that the Russian Federation is violating all the norms of the Geneva Convention and is furthermore taking advantage of this situation to gain leverage. Therefore, Horodetskyy reiterated the crucial role of information in this war.