ACTION ALERT: Call for a UN Investigation Into the May 2, 2014 Odessa Massacre
April 18, 2016 Bruce Gagnon / Organizing Notes
The violent, provocative rhetoric and physical attacks that have accompanied Donald Trump's rallies are a reminder that the specter of political violence is not limited to genocidal massacres between rival Hutu and Tutsi tribes in Rwanda. On May 2, 2016, a memorial will be held in Odessa, Ukraine, to honor the memory of scores of pro-democracy activists who were brutally murdered by rightwing radicals on that date in Odessa two years ago.
Statement in Support of the
May 2 Memorial to be Held in Odessa, Ukraine Call for a United Nations Investigation into the Tragic Events of May 2, 2014
On May 2, 2016, a memorial will be held in Odessa, Ukraine, to honor the memory of scores of prodemocracy activists who were brutally murdered on that date in Odessa two years ago.
There is no reason for the City authorities to forbid a peaceful memorial, but rightwing radicals, some of whom are believed to have been involved in the events of 2014, have declared that they will not allow it to proceed.
The tragedy of Odessa and the continuing danger of rightwing [fascist] violence in that beautiful city is of growing concern to decent minded people around the world.
Therefore, we the undersigned representatives of human rights organizations in the United States and other countries hereby call on the governments of Odessa, Ukraine and the United States to ensure that the civic rights of those attending the May 2 memorial in Odessa will be respected, including the delegations of international monitors who will be present on that day.
We further respectfully appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to initiate an international investigation into the events of May 2, 2014, as requested by family members, friends and supporters of those who died on that day.
According to widely published reports, protesters opposed to the February 2014 coup that overthrew Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had set up a symbolic tent city in Odessa’s Kulikovo Square, in front of the fivestory House of Trade Unions.
On May 2, rightwing soccer fans, whipped up by procoup activists, attacked and burned the tent city, driving the much smaller group of protesters into the union building.
The mob then set the building on fire. At least 46 people died from burns, smoke inhalation, gunfire and beatings. Many more were wounded. It was the worst case of violence in Odessa in many decades.
Ever since the massacre, representatives of the families of those who died have held weekly vigils to honor the memory of their loved ones. Many of these memorials have been harassed by procoup groups.
As recently as April 10, a large gathering of people celebrating the liberation of Odessa from Nazi occupation was attacked by rightwing thugs. These same forces now are threatening to physically prevent the second May 2 anniversary memorial from taking place.
At a formal meeting of the UN Human Rights Committee held on March 21, 2016 in Geneva, family members and their supporters asked the committee to initiate a longoverdue impartial investigation into the events of May 2, 2014.
For their part, the pro-coup forces are expressing their opposition to such an investigation. This contradiction alone should make clear which side wants the truth to be revealed and which side wants it to remain hidden.
Again, we call on the United Nations to initiate the requested investigation. And we call on the governments of Odessa, Ukraine and the United States to ensure that the civic rights of those attending the May 2 memorial in Odessa are respected.
Abayomi Azikiwe - Editor, Pan-African News Wire; Organizer, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice
Judith Bello - Member, Administrative Committee, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
Ana Edwards - Chair, Virginia Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project
Sara Flounders - Co-Director, International Action Center
Bruce Gagnon - International Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Veterans For Peace
Jeff Mackler - Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal; Past Vice President, American Federation of Teachers, Hayward Local 1423, AFL-CIO
Ray McGovern - Former CIA Analyst
Gar Smith - Environmentalists Against War
Mary Beth Sullivan - Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks (Maine)
Phil Wilayto - Editor, The Virginia Defender
* Organizations listed for identification purposes only
This statement was initiated by the United National Antiwar Coalition (www.UNACpeace.org), a broad coalition of peace and justice organizations in the United States. UNAC encourages the circulation of this petition among peace and human rights organizations all over the world.
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Below is a message that I will share on Friday night at the Ukraine Teach-In to be held in Bath, Maine. It comes from a person in Odessa who I know. This person wishes to remain anonymous due to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) current round-up of thousands of peaceful activists in Odessa.
The SBU headquarters building in Kiev has an American flag hanging outside the doorway indicating which nation is really running things these days inside of Ukraine.
-- Bruce Gagnon
Message from Odessa Anonymous
Odessa region of Ukraine is extremely important for the Kiev authorities. Several lucrative ports with the flow of goods in transit, a strategically advantageous position in the area of the Danube mouth, the economically active population, the infrastructure which is not fully destroyed during the years of independence - this is not a complete list of the region’s benefits.
Known to everybody Odessa tolerance and multiculturalism, that had always been its hallmark, became an obstacle to the total Ukrainization of the region. Odessa resisted the Maidan nationalism so strongly, that the so-called "patriots" have developed and implemented a bloody campaign of intimidation on May 2, 2014 [Odessa Trades Hall massacre where more than 50 were killed by neo-Nazis.].
Having survived the shock, the city and the region have moved to active resistance to the "new order", expressed in constant actions of resistance which has reached its climax in the period May 2-9, 2015. In these days tens of thousands of people came out into the streets of the city under the newly prohibited red flags, and Poroshenko showed the world a million of fake smiles on the Walk of Fame in Odessa under a thunderous cry "Fascism will not pass!".
Under these conditions, Poroshenko recovered the move which is traditional to Ukrainian presidents – he appointed his godfather as the governor of the trouble-making Odessa region.
But this time the choice was approved even by the international curators of the Maidan power, for it was Mikheil Saakashvili [former president of Georgia and a favorite US CIA operative who is now wanted for crimes in Georgia but Ukraine refuses to send him back to his country] who was appointed the governor, and who is one of the most rabid Russophobes of our days and in the same time doesn’t have the reputation of Bandera-nationalist and who is not directly related to the May 2 mayhem.
By all accounts, the Kiev government has assigned for Saakashvili two tasks -- an obvious one and quite probable one. As to the first, everyone agrees, then Poroshenko demanded to capture and redirect the financial flows, and above all, the proceeds from the customs and trading port, as well as pave the way for the privatization of the region's largest asset -- Portside Plant.
As to the probable objective, many analysts mention an escalation of tensions on the border with Transnistria. With this Saakashvili should cause the greatest possible damage to Russia, and the rest we'll see.
The new governor immediately developed a rigorous activity, strengthening his already robust reputation of a populist and a windbag. An objective observer analyzing the situation cannot ignore the following facts.
Firstly, the active process of the property redistribution is at full speed in Odessa and its region. The press has already published numerous stories about the people in camouflage uniforms who appeared on various enterprises, captured them and did not let the owners in. Usually, these people represent themselves as "Pravi sector", "Automaydan" and other Bandera-nationalist brands. The great thing is that they really are those.
Creating and pumping the atmosphere of fear and terror, the nationalists literally beat political opponents with impunity and pay no attention to any laws of the country or to the statements of the liberal leaders of the region. Only recently the militants brutally beat unarmed protesters who were protesting against holding in prison Artyom Buzilov - Bessarabian progressive journalist.
They have repeatedly destroyed the humble and touching makeshift memorial erected by Odessans on the Kulikovo Field in memory of those unarmed citizens who were killed on May 2. They also constantly terrorize the participants of weekly meeting-requiem on the Kulikovo field, many of whom are elderly people.
The peak of cynicism of nationalist gangs is the bullying of mothers who lost their children on May 2. On July 13, 2015, the hearing on the case of Sergei Hodiyaka in Odessa Primorsky court was appointed. This euromaidan activist is accused of the murder of Yevgeny Losinskogo (Article 115 of the Ukraine Criminal Code), as well as of the attempted murder of several other people.
The relatives of the victims, their friends and Odessans who wanted to support the mothers whose sons were apparently killed by Hodiyak during the May tragedy last year came to the hearing.
What happened later in the hall cannot be named other than coven and lawlessness. Relatives of the victims were insulted, pushed out from the benches. Despite all their appeals to the judge and to the prosecutor, they were taken [photos] on mobile phones and cameras, and were threatened to be burned next time . . . .
No action on the part of judges and prosecutors to protect the relatives of the victims had been taken. After the abolition of the court session, as the judges again recused themselves, the "patriots" have built a "corridor of shame" through which all the mothers of the victims and all those who came to support them had to go through.
At the same time, they were abused, pushed, beaten, kicked in the legs, they spitted at. The police, who could stop this abuse, were absent in the the court room.
Looking at all these manifestations of painful social schizophrenia that is not suppressed by the authorities, Odessans cannot believe in the good intentions of the new governor Saakashvili.
Changing the signs does not change anything in substance - that is the main conclusion of Odessa citizens. Moreover, a growing concern has the steps of the new governor, that can only be described as a rejection of sovereignty. How else can we assess the fact of the regional administration officials being paid their salaries by the US government?
Or the upcoming transfer the control of the South (Odessa) customs office to an American corporation? [There has been at least one article speculating that the US wants to use Odessa to port its Navy warships deployed in the Black Sea.]
And only the nationalists and their henchmen do not get tired to extol all the steps of the new governor. This causes vague doubts among ordinary Odessa residents – the patriots of what state are those home-grown radical nationalists been taken.
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