Amnesty International’s Ukraine office director resigned on Friday in protest at a lengthy statement by the organization accusing Ukrainian soldiers of using war tactics that endanger civilians.
In what it calls an “extended press release,” the international human rights group said on Thursday that “Ukrainian forces put civilians in danger by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in densely populated areas, including in schools and hospitals”.
News of the statement sparked an internal debate within Amnesty International and was met with widespread and near-universal condemnation in Ukraine, which is defending itself against the Russian military. more intense firepower and has ravaged urban areas, torturing and killing thousands of civilians.
The organization’s findings in no way justify the tactics of Russian forces, and Amnesty International has previously documented Russian war crimes, the report said, but that was not enough to dispel calm the group’s critics, including the Ukrainian director, Oksana Pokalchuk.
“If you don’t live in a country invaded by occupiers tearing it apart, you may not understand what it’s like to condemn the defending army,” she said. wrote in a Facebook post announced his resignation after seven years with the organization. “And there’s no word in any language that can explain that to someone who hasn’t felt this pain.”
She also worries that the statement, prepared in the group’s main office, not by the Ukrainian arm, will be used and abused by the Kremlin. “Without desiring it, the organization created the material as support for the Russian stories,” Ms. Pokalchuk said. “Seeking ways to protect civilians, this research has instead become a tool of Russian propaganda.”
The statement highlighted the problems posed by Ukrainian forces fighting in an urban environment, one of the most destructive forms of war. In the five months since Russia invaded Ukraine, its cities have become focal points for both offensive and defensive operations.
Rules of war experts say there is no rule prohibiting the use of schools, hospitals, museums and other public places as command posts or military bases, as long as they are not used for peacetime purposes.