Bp. Victor reports violation of UOC believers’ rights at OSCE meeting

Bishop Victor of Baryshevka, Chairman of the UOC Representative Office to European International Organizations, took part in the OSCE meeting

Bp. Victor of Baryshevka informed the participants of the OSCE meeting on numerous cases of violation of the rights of UOC believers and unlawful pressure on the Church.

The Chairman of the UOC Representative Office to European International Organizations Bishop Victor of Baryshevka took part in the meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, devoted to the protection of freedom of religion and belief, which was held in Vienna on April 1-2, 2019, reports the UOC Information and Education Department.

The Head of the Representative Office reported the facts of violations of the rights of believers and religious communities of the UOC in his speech. It was stressed that now the question of international obligations to protect human rights on the part of Ukraine arises in connection with the adoption of the law on the forced name change of religious organizations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

According to the hierarch, the same law contains a discriminatory norm restricting access of the UOC clergymen to the Ukrainian Armed Forces for spiritual guidance. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights drew the attention of the Office to such a restriction on the rights of servicemen, the UOC faithful, noting that this decision contradicts Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

It was also noted that the UOC clerics are subject to systematic unlawful pressure to make them transfer to another denomination. An illustrative case is the launched criminal proceedings and the service of a notice of suspicion to the human rights activist and cleric of the Rovno Eparchy of the UOC, Archpriest Victor Zemlianoy, who is being persecuted for the protection of the legitimate rights of Ukrainian believers to freedom of religion. This case, in the event of further development, will acquire greater international resonance.

Bishop Victor emphasized that today there is already an obvious international reaction to the facts of violations of the rights of UOC believers. In particular, a communication request by the UN Special Rapporteurs was sent to the Government of Ukraine at the end of 2018, and the fact of violations in the religious sphere was reflected in the above-mentioned report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

During the meeting, the Head of the UOC Representative Office to European International Organizations had a meeting with the Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU Jan Figel, representatives of the OSCE and the international community.

We recall that the group of UN Special Rapporteurs, which on September 30, 2018, applied to the authorized state bodies of Ukraine with an information request about the violation of the rights of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, did not receive a response in a timely manner. The UOC Representative Office to European International Organizations regards this as an attempt to hide the real situation with discrimination against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Also, the UN human rights defenders expressed serious concern over the harassment of the UOJ journalists who publish information on violations of the rights of UOC believers.

 

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