The person in charge of Amnesty International (AI) in Ukraine, the lawyer Oksana Pokalchuk, announced his resignation after a report by this NGO that accused the Ukrainian armed forces of endangering civilians. The report was heavily criticized by the kyiv government.
“I am resigning from Amnesty International in Ukraine,” Pokalchuk declared in a statement posted on Facebook the night from Friday to Saturday. In it he reproaches the report published on Thursday, August 4whose publication asked to suspend, has unintentionally served for “Russian propaganda”.
“It is painful to admit, but the Amnesty International leadership and I have different values. Therefore, I have decided to leave the organization. I believe that any work for the good of society must be done taking into account the local context and thinking about the consequences. Most importantly, I am convinced that our surveys must be conducted comprehensively and with people in mind, whose lives often directly depend on the words and actions of international organizations,” Pokalchuk wrote on Facebook.
The AI document, published after a four month investigation, states that the Ukrainian Army endangered civilians by establishing military bases in residential areas and launching attacks from populated places to stop the Russian invasion. According to the NGO, these practices violate international humanitarian law.
The document has outraged Ukrainian President Voloimir Zelensky, which has accused AI of excusing the “terrorist state” of Russia. For his part, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, considered the accusations “unfair”.
In his statement, Pokalchuk regrets that his opinion was not taken into account. “If you don’t live in a country invaded by occupiers who are dismembering it, you probably don’t understand what it means to condemn a defending army.” He adds that he tried to convince the AI leadership that the report was biased and did not take into account the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s point of view. Amnesty eventually “sent a request to the Defense Ministry” but “gave it very little time to respond,” he adds.
Pokalchuk’s position collides with the vision of the Secretary General of Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard who on Friday assured that “fully upholds the conclusions” of the report, “based on evidence gathered at the end of extensive investigations that adhered to the same rigorous and diligent standards to which all of Amnesty International’s work is held.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.