Ukraine, 19 February 2014 – Concerned by the escalating violence in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, top United Nations officials have urged all sides to exercise restraint and find a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis.
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at least 22 people were killed during violence clashes on Tuesday between riot police and protesters. This is the latest wave of violence to hit Kiev, which has been witnessing mass protests since late November.
In yesterday’s events, protesters attempted in the morning to march on Parliament ahead of a crucial debate reinstating the 2004 Constitution, which would significantly limit the powers of the president, OHCHR stated in a news release.
Violent clashes erupted between riot police and protesters near the Parliament building. The violence continued as riot police tried to clear the protesters’ camp in Independence Square. Police fired rubber bullets as well as stun and smoke grenades from trucks, and some protesters threw Molotov cocktails and bricks.
Among the at least 22 people killed were journalists, police officers and protesters. The Ministry of Health reported that 241 people had been taken to hospital.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson last night, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged both sides to redouble efforts to build on recent positive measures, including an amnesty for those detained as a result of the protests and the vacating of Government buildings by protesters.
Voicing his increasing alarm today, Mr. Ban urged an immediate end to the violence and reiterated his call for constructive dialogue to resolve the deepening political and security crisis.
“He appeals to the Ukrainian authorities to act decisively in brokering a peaceful end to the crisis in a way that is in keeping with the demands and the aspirations of the Ukrainian people,” his spokesperson said in a statement today.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called today on all parties to exercise maximum restraint. “I strongly condemn the killings and urge the Government and protesters to act to defuse tensions and to take swift action to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis.”
Ms. Pillay also called for an urgent and independent investigation to establish facts and responsibilities, including the possible use of excessive force, and to ensure accountability for the clashes.
In addition, she reiterated her call for respect for the right to peaceful assembly, as provided under international human rights law, to be respected.