Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has slammed Amnesty International after the group accused the Ukrainian army of endangering civilians and violating humanitarian law in their fight against Russian invaders
He called out the double standards of the international rights group saying that Amnesty had tried to “amnesty the terrorist state (Russia) and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim”, Zelensky said in his daily address, reports AFP.
The Ukrainian leader said that Amnesty was drawing a “false equivalence” between the actions of Russia’s invading forces and Ukrainians defending their homeland.
“There is no condition, even hypothetically, under which any Russian strike on Ukraine becomes justified. Aggression against our state is unprovoked, invasive and terrorist,” he said.
“If someone makes a report in which the victim and the aggressor are supposedly equal in some way, if some data about the victim is analysed, and the aggressor’s actions at the same time is ignored, then this cannot be tolerated,” he added.
In its report, Amnesty listed incidents when Ukrainian forces appeared to have exposed civilians to danger in 19 towns and villages in the Kharkiv, Donbas and Mykolaiv regions.
“We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” Amnesty secretary general Agnes Callamard said.
“Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”
The report noted that residential areas where Ukrainian soldiers based themselves were miles away from frontlines, and “viable alternatives” were available that would not endanger civilians,
Researchers from Amnesty further claimed to have witnessed Ukrainian forces using hospitals as “de facto military bases” in five areas, and 22 schools.
Though the schools were located in civilian neighbourhoods, they have been shut during the conflict.
“We have no say in what the military does, but we pay the price,” the report quoted one resident as saying.
(With inputs from agencies)
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