Amnesty International co-founder resigns over Ukraine crimes report

After 60 years of working with Amnesty International’s Swedish office, co-founder Per Wästberg has left the organisation. He contradicted the report accusing Ukrainian forces of violating martial law.

Per Wästberg, co-founder of the Swedish branch of Amnesty International, has resigned from his post because he disagrees with the publication of the report on violations of martial law by the Ukrainian armed forces. He said this in an interview with the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. Wastberg said:

“It is with a heavy heart that I am ending my long and fruitful association with this organization following Amnesty’s comments on the war in Ukraine.”

The organization had initially focused on releasing prisoners but has expanded its mandate over time, he said.

Amnesty International fully supports report on Ukrainian army

Amnesty International fully supports report on Ukrainian army

Wästberg founded Amnesty Sweden together with Hans Göran Franck in 1964. He was editor-in-chief of Sweden’s largest daily newspaper from 1976 to 1982 Days Nyheter and has been a member of the Nobel Prize Committee for Literature since 1998.

About a week ago, on August 4, Amnesty International published a report on the actions of the Ukrainian military and their violations of the laws of war. According to the organization, the Ukrainian military deployed military equipment in residential areas, hospitals and schools, putting civilians at risk. Among other things, the Ukrainian military in Artemovsk (Bakhmut) used a university building as a military base and damaged nearby residential buildings as a result of the war, according to human rights activists. Most of the schools (22 out of 29) visited by Amnesty International staff in south-eastern Ukraine contained Ukrainian military, military equipment or weapons, the report said.

The head of Amnesty International’s Ukraine office, Oksana Pokalchuk, resigned after the report was published. She explained that the organization had given Ukraine’s defense ministry “insufficient time to respond”. Pokalchuk described the content of the report as “supporting Russian narratives”.

Ukrainian foreign minister rejects Amnesty International allegations: "Not fair"

Ukrainian foreign minister rejects Amnesty International allegations: “Not fair”

The Ukrainian authorities criticized the report. Amnesty International is trying to “amnesty” Russia and “shift the responsibility onto the victim,” said Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskiy. Mikhail Podoliak, Advisor to the President’s Office, called for a review of whether Amnesty International had benefited from Russia. He said that the international humanitarian institutions were discredited.

The Russian Embassy in the United States received the publication positively. A statement from the diplomatic mission said the backlash was a sign of how difficult it was to “silence the truth.” The US accuses Russia of war crimes but is only pursuing a “distortion of the truth,” according to the embassy.

Amnesty International stressed that ignoring human rights abuses by either party to the conflict does not constitute “convincing reporting” on the human rights situation and that the report on Ukrainian forces does not mean justifying Russia’s actions. The organization said it asked Ukrainian authorities for comment on Friday, July 29, which the report’s authors had not received five days later, on Wednesday, August 3.

Amnesty International said the report’s conclusions on the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces were not being reconsidered. The organization asserted that the sole purpose of the report was to ensure the protection of civilians and that the “suffering and upset” caused by its publication was deeply regrettable.

more on the subject – Amnesty International: Kyiv violates international law of war

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