UN Human Rights Council discusses violation of the rights of UOC believers
24 September 2019. The NGO “Public Advocacy” organized the hotel event “Religious Freedom Today: Orthodox Churches of Ukraine, Montenegro, North Macedonia” during the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, reports the website of the human rights organization.
During the event, UN representatives were presented with packages of documents on violations of the rights of Christians in Ukraine, Montenegro, North Macedonia and the Middle East.
Human rights defenders of the NGO “Public Advocacy” reminded UN representatives that the situation of Orthodox Christians is a matter of serious concern to a number of Churches, whose Holy Synods and other central governing bodies have adopted special communiqués and decisions on this. Representatives of the human rights organization published the full texts of all the decisions of the Churches on the UN website.
Head of the UOC Mission to European International Organizations Bishop Victor (Kotsaba) of Baryshevka, head of the Department for the Settlement of Interfaith Relations of the Rivne Eparchy of the UOC, Archpriest Viktor Zemlianoy and representatives of the communities of the canonical Church addressed the participants of the event. Their reports were heard by representatives of UN diplomatic missions in Geneva, office staff of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, as well as representatives of international organizations and journalists.
Archpriest Victor Zemlianoy reported to the participants of the 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council on the persecution of the UOC flock and the opening of criminal proceedings against Archpriest Victor himself in connection with his human rights activities.
“The re-registration of statutes gave rise to forcible seizures of UOC churches, there were more than 20 such cases during the period of 2019. In all other settlements, UOC religious communities guard their churches around the clock for many months. A blatant case is the re-registration of the statute of the UOC religious community of vlg. Ptichya, which actually had a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, when the religious community of the UOC-KP held a meeting on the transfer of the religious community of the UOC to the OCU,” the clergyman said.
He informed the event participants about attempted seizures of temples using physical force by the right-wing organizations “DUK” and “Right Sector”, illegal actions of the Governor of the Rivne region Alexei Muliarenko and obstructions from government officials to the construction of new churches of the UOC.
“Land for the construction of churches is not allocated, and when the community buys a land plot at their own expense, they do not issue a permit to begin construction of the temple. In such conditions, the religious community is forced to build a church as a residential house, pay a fine, and then perform services,” Archpriest Victor noted.
He emphasized that the local authorities ignored the decisions of the Ukrainian and European courts on the claims of the religious communities of the canonical Church in the villages of Ptichya and Badovka.
Margarita Guk, a parishioner of the UOC church from the village of Buderazh, also took part in the session of the UN Human Rights Council. She spoke about the moral pressure that activists of the OCU exert on her for her loyalty to Orthodoxy and the canonical Church. Guk shared with the event participants her impressions of what had happened in her native village and presented the evidence of her fellow believers on the violation of their constitutional rights by supporters of the newly created church structure.