Ukraine: Third arson attack against Roma in a month, firearms also used against 7 adults, 30+ children
According to the Ukrainian ombudsman, on 22 May approximately 12 assailants set a Romani camp on fire in the Ternopil region of western Ukraine. At the moment of the attack there were seven adults and more than 30 young Romani children at the camp.
The assailants are said to have used firearms as well. All victims managed to flee into the forest and fortunately nobody was harmed physically.
This is the third attack on Romani people in a very short space of time in Ukraine. According to information released by the police, 12 armed persons were arrested near the scene of the crime and are currently being investigated on suspicion of perpetrating the attack.
The chair of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, Ludmyla Denysova (the ombudsman), has responded to the attack and confirmed that it showed traits of "discrimination on the basis of nationality and inciting antipathy toward the Romani national minority". Her office will be investigating.
Denysova has also called on police in the Ternopil region to take measures that are in accordance with the law when responding to this and other cases. "The chair of the Commission on Human Rights is disturbed by the growing number of cases of intolerance vis-a-vis representatives of the Romani minority," her press release states.
The ombudsman has called on the citizens of Ukraine to show tolerance and to reject discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin, language, nationality, political conviction, religion, sex or social background. The attack is already the third to happen in recent weeks against Romani people in Ukraine.
During the late night hours of 21 April and the early morning hours of 22 April, members of the neo-Nazi organization C14 committed arson against the homes of Romani people living in Kiev's Lysa Hora neighborhood. Prior to setting the dwellings on fire they chased the inhabitants away using rocks and tear gas.
Police in Ukraine are currently criminally prosecuting the radicals involved in that incident. They did not launch the prosecution until after human rights organizations pressured them to do so, however.
Another attack happened during the early morning hours of 10 May when more than 30 masked men assaulted several Romani families living in temporary shelters in the village of Rudne in the Lvov region of western Ukraine. The attackers used violence to force the Romani inhabitants to leave their dwellings and then set their homes on fire.
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