- The President of the European Parliament
In November 2013, President Yanukovitch withdrew, at the eleventh hour, from signing a trade agreement with the EU which would have helped loosen Ukraine’s economic ties to Russia and moved it one step closer towards EU membership. However, the subsequent protests were not a fight for EU membership, but for basic political rights.
The President’s armed troops, the ‘Berkut’, violently dispersed a peaceful student demonstration in Kiev on November 30th, causing the people to take to the streets en masse to defend not only their right to peacefully demonstrate, but to speak out freely, and to demand a government with its country’s best interests at heart.
On 16th December 2013, the Ukrainian parliament passed a series of laws through a spurious raising of hands, rather than electronic voting, which made it illegal to travel in convoys of more than 4 vehicles, to publicly gather in groups of more than 10 people, and to wear protective gear such as helmets in public places: effectively, making protesting and fighting against the government illegal.
More people flooded into Maidan, setting up camp and strengthening the barricades enclosing and protecting the makeshift village in Kiev’s city centre. More Berkut troops were then deployed to try and storm Maidan yet again, meeting resistance from the people. In response to the Berkut’s use of water cannon and rubber bullets, the protesters began retaliating with Molotov cocktails, improvised cobblestone, log missiles, and firecrackers. The protesters remain entrenched on Maidan, demanding that Yanukovitch resign, without which no positive change can occur in Ukraine.
However, on February 17th, after the protesters ignored the deadline Yanukovitch set for them to clear the Square, the President commanded the Berkut to begin using excessive force to storm and reclaim Maidan.
Since that night, the official death toll escalated to circa 50 people, increasing at this very moment after a sniper was installed following the so-called truce, although people reported to have been burned alive in the opposition’s HQ, the Trade Union Building, do not seem to have been figured into the total. The Berkut is kidnapping the injured being brought into Kiev’s hospitals, forcing the people to construct makeshift hospitals in cathedrals and hotels around the city instead.
Protesters have been abducted and returned with their mouths sewn shut, being seated on crates full of firecrackers which were ignited beneath them, and after being crucified. You will hear reports of a ‘truce’ between Yanukovitch and the opposition’s leaders. This means nothing. We repeat: no truce made with Yanukovitch as president is legitimate. People are dying, being massacred, being humiliated – it will have been worth nothing if Yanukovitch is allowed to remain in power. People are laying down their time, their health, their lives, to give Ukraine another chance to flourish into the sophisticated nation it has the resources to become, none of which can happen with a leader who robs his own country’s coffers and runs to Russia when he gets low on cash.
You will hear the media hint that the protesters are rebel rousers, gratuitously inciting violence – when you do, remember this: there are 100 year old women on Maidan. There are poor villagers eating soup and staying warm by oil barrels by the side of oligarchs. There are young children rolling tyres to Maidan to use as decoys and as barricades. There are people who cannot afford to abandon their businesses who travelled across the country to set up residence in the cold for months to fight for freedom. There are women, mothers, preparing boxes of Molotov cocktails.
Please, do not be indifferent. Help Ukrainians obtain what they should never have had to fight for by signing this petition. We do not tend to pay attention to the crises in countries not our own, but while turning away form a news report is understandable, ignoring a direct appeal is irresponsible. We are real people. We are losing those we love. This is no longer just about politics.
We the Ukrainian people address you, the people of the EU, because this is now also about the very dignities which make us human.
We the undersigned demand that the governments of the members of the European Union impose economic sanctions against President Yanukovitch and leading members of his government, especially the heads of the Party of Regions, for whom Ukrainian subordination to the Kremlin for money is a matter of ideology, and the welfare of their own people of no concern.
Furthermore, we ask the EU to help freeze the bank accounts of Ukrainian businessmen, including Akhmetov, residing abroad conducting their businesses using money illegally obtained, facilitating the funding, maintenance, and protection of the current regime in Ukraine.
We demand that the foreign media extend their coverage of the violence taking place on Maidan, and out more effort into verifying their information and avoid misrepresenting the people’s cause and the state of the nation.
We ask that those watching these news reports act on the indignation they feel, either speaking out directly or by urging their governments to put pressure on President Yanukovitch to withdraw his armed troops and cease inflicting violence and intimidation against his own people.
In short, we demand that the international community help Ukrainians in their fight for what those in the EU possess by inalienable right – dignity, democracy, and a competent government.
The Support Ukraine's Freedom Fighters petition to The President of the European Parliament was written by Fiona Curnow and is in the category Civil Rights at GoPetition.