Head of Public Advocacy reports violations of UOC believers’ rights in UN

The 45th session of the UN HRC is taking place in Geneva. Photo: ufmg.br

On October 1, 2020, human rights organizations declared violations of the believers' rights during the discussion of the UN High Commissioner's report in Geneva.

President of the NGO "Public Advocacy" Oleg Denisov, during an interactive dialogue with UN representatives, announced violations of the rights of believers in the UOC on a wide range of issues. This was reported on the website of the NGO "Public Advocacy".

During an online dialogue, Mr. Denisov reported about incitement to religious hatred in Ukraine, as well as repeated attacks on priests and believers of the UOC.

The head of the NGO recommended the UN High Commissioner and the Head of the UN Human Rights Council to pay attention to the complaints of believers, which were sent to the UN HRC, and to reflect in their reports the facts of violations of the rights of the UOC.

NGO representatives continue to participate in the events of the 45th regular session of the UN HRC.

The UOJ cites the full text of the statement by president of the NGO "Public Advocacy" Oleg Denisov.

"Dear participants of the session,

Since the 37th session of the UN HRC, our organization has been drawing your attention to the massive violations of the rights of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Over 2015-2020, more than 70 temples of this denomination were seized with the use of violence and with the inaction of state authorities, which until now have not ensured the return of property to the believers. Criminal cases are opened against the clerics of this confession for their allegedly inciting religious hatred, while civil servants allow themselves to publicly and openly demonstrate their hostile attitude towards the UOC. Since 2015, religious organizations of the UOC have been legally disabled (note: this term can be replaced with “diminished in” or “deprived of” their rights) – monasteries and dioceses have not been able to change their leaders or register statutes for several years now due to the fact that such actions are blocked by the authorities. The Parliament of Ukraine approved the law on the forced renaming of the UOC, demanding that believers indicate their affiliation to the Russian Orthodox Church as a religious center of the aggressor state of the Russian Federation. State authorities of Ukraine do not hesitate to initiate lawsuits against religious organizations of the UOC, terminating agreements with them on the use of premises and evicting them from churches, as well as overlooking the obligations of state restitution of church property, which was previously seized by the communist government.

All these negative effects were aggravated by the decision of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to issue the Tomos for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, whose representatives are often involved in forcible seizures around the UOC temples. Now a new religious structure has been created in Ukraine – the OCU, to which the state actually gives ideological and legal privileges. The granting of the Tomos only exacerbated the division in the religious environment and caused new violations in attempting to establish a new religious structure at the expense of the existing ones.

Further deterioration of the situation led to the fact that the Holy Synod of the UOC made a public address to international human rights organizations, expecting them to take real steps to protect the rights of believers.

Significantly, on October 30, 2018, 4 UN Special Rapporteurs sent a communication to the government of Ukraine about violations of the rights of believers in the UOC. In addition, the UN Human Rights Committee, within the "interim measures" framework, found the eviction of the religious organization of the UOC from its church in Ivano-Frankovsk by the authorities to be inadmissible.

However, it is regrettable that dozens of complaints sent to the UN HRC by our organization, as well as believers and organizations of the UOC, in accordance with the established procedure, remain without an appropriate response so far.

I earnestly request the UN HRC to respond to the complaints, drawn up in accordance with your procedure, which were filed by the believers of the UOC in 2018-2019, since millions of the faithful in Ukraine are expecting you to take specific steps and pay attention to this pressing issue."

As the UOJ reported earlier, human rights defenders report violations of UOC believers’ rights in the UN.

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