The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it had documented “several cases of violation of the laws of war by Russian military forces” in the Ukrainian regions of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv. Civilian testimonies refer to summary executions, looting and rape.
The report is final. “Summary executions and other serious human rights violations have clearly been perpetrated by the Russian forces”, indicates this April 3 the NGO for the defense of human rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In this first document made public, the NGO mentions cases of “violations of the laws of war” obvious. A report rushed after the discovery of hundreds of civilian bodies in the martyred city of Butcha this week-end. After just over a month of war in Ukraine, this could be a turning point. The images of the tortured bodies after the departure of the Russian occupier caused shock waves across the planet.
Rapes and summary executions
These crimes, described as “apparent war crimes“, could be documented thanks to survivors and witnesses of the violence. In total, HRW conducted a dozen interviews “with eyewitnesses, survivors and secondary witnesses” on the spot.
Among the testimonies are clearly executions summaries, “of six men in one case, and of another man in a separate case” as well as numerous violence targeting civilians. Even more worrying, some acts date back at least to February 27. From the first days of the conflict so.
The NGO interviewed Viktoria, the mother and sister-in-law of two of the victims: “The soldiers told us not to worry, that they would scare them a little and then let them go. We did 50 meters… and we heard shots,” she said.
They were lying there. There were gunshot wounds to their heads. Their hands were tied behind their backs. I looked at my son’s body, his pockets were empty. – Viktoria, mother of a victim
“The cases we have documented testify to cruelty and unspeakable and deliberate violence against Ukrainian civilians,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.Rapesmurders and other acts of violence against persons detained by Russian forces should be investigated as war crimes.”
Another testimony, that of a woman, reports “several times in a school in the Kharkiv region, where she had taken refuge with her family on March 13”. She also claimed to have been “beaten, and lacerated in the face and neck with a knife”, indicates the NGO.
Russian soldiers stormed that same basement and threw a smoke grenade inside. Several people panicked and fled outside, where Russian soldiers fired on them – HRW
Answer for these crimes
“Those who were at the origin of these crimes will have to answer for them”, warned Emmanuel Macron on France Inter on Monday, judging that “what has just happened in Boutcha imposes a new set of sanctions and very clear measures” .
As the European Union urgently grapples with new coercive measures, Paris announced on Monday the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, Berlin a “high number”, and the United States called for the “suspension” of Russia from the Council United Nations human rights.
Zelensky denounces a genocide
Giving little credence to Moscow’s denials, which are screaming at the stage, Joe Biden again called Vladimir Putin a ‘war criminal’, calling for a trial. It’s necessary “preserve all evidence“, underlined Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Despite threats to his own safety, Volodymyr Zelensky went himself on Monday to Boutcha, wearing a bulletproof vest and surrounded by soldiers. In these streets transformed into an open-air cemetery, strewn with the bodies of people shot at close range, some with their hands tied behind their backs, the Ukrainian president warned that it was now becoming more difficult to negotiate with Russia. “These are war crimes and they will be recognized around the world as genocide,” insisted the Ukrainian president.
“We want the whole world to see what happened, what the Russian military did”
Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Boutcha pic.twitter.com/BxM9n3no2O
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) April 4, 2022
Crime against humanity
“We know of thousands of people killed and tortured, with limbs torn off, women raped and children murdered,” continued the Ukrainian president.
Invited on Monday evening on BFMTV, the Attorney General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova, said she was able to put a name to each of these victims, explaining that the lifeless bodies of 410 civilians were found in these territories of the Kyiv region, sometimes piled up in mass graves.
In total, “we counted 4,000 war crimes and we haven’t even been able to see what is happening in Mariupol yet,” she explained. “For me it’s about war crimes and even crimes against humanity“Among these victims, she said, are 168 children.