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Amnesty International would accuse Warsaw insurgents of 1944 of human rights violations

It is an organisation with a leftist profile, unwilling to think in national terms. Issues such as national self-determination or the struggle for independence are irrelevant to it.

On 4 August 2022, a press release entitled “Ukrainian fighting tactics endanger civilians” appeared on the website of Amnesty International, a renowned global human rights organisation. It presented the results of research, conducted from April to July in the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Mykolayiv regions, according to which the Ukrainian military, using populated urban and rural areas for its operations, is exposing civilians to Russian shelling and thus violating international humanitarian law.

The Ukrainian side expressed outrage. President Volodymyr Zelenski commented on the report with words about “providing amnesty” for the aggressor and shifting responsibility to the victim. His advisor Mikhailo Podolak said that AI’s findings were part of a disinformation and propaganda campaign. Oksana Pokalchuk, head of the organisation’s Ukrainian office, resigned immediately, followed a few days later by Per Waestberg, founder of AI’s Stockholm branch.

Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, added insult to injury with a Twitter post in which she described critics of the report as Ukrainian and Russian internet trolls. The organisation issued a statement in which it expressed regret at how the report had been received, but did not back down from the claims made in it. And even though the Polish office, in its statement, apologised for the pain and anger caused by the report; it also admitted that mistakes had been made “in the area of consultation and communication” and that “insufficient context was provided and insufficient emphasis was placed on Russian responsibility for the war in Ukraine”, the damage was done. All the more so as the communication of 4 August was picked up by Russian propaganda.

Amnesty International Poland refused to answer our questions, referring us to press releases.

No understanding of reality

When reading AI’s report, one gets the impression that the organisation, despite its noble intentions – through the uncritical application of its principles – has lost its broader perspective. The lack of understanding of the realities of war, for example, is striking. – Recording violations of the law is necessary. Just remember that in war, when a state is the victim of aggression and its independence is threatened, it is the fundamental right of a nation to defend itself against that aggression. Amnesty International is apparently not interested in this. I am not saying that it should be. On the other hand, one must always take into account that the guarantee of individual rights is the common good. One must also understand the context of the situation and know the proportions – says Marek Jurek, former Speaker of the Sejm, now a publicist, in an interview with TVP Weekly.

AI documented the stationing of Ukrainian soldiers in residential areas, including civilian buildings (hospitals, schools) in nineteen towns and villages. The authors of the report suggest that soldiers should use alternatives that would not provoke the Russians to shell populated areas. Military bases and nearby forests were listed. Only that, from the point of view of war practice, there is no way for Ukraine’s troops to conduct an effective defence against Russian aggression without using urban areas.

– Perhaps the Ukrainian military should also give the Russians its coordinates? – General Roman Polko does not hide his indignation at the theses contained in the report. The former GROM (Polish SF unit) commander, in an interview with TVP Weekly, points out that Ukrainian soldiers, when conducting defensive operations – with the vast military superiority of the Russians – must stay dispersed. – If they were to concentrate in bases, as Amnesty International suggests, they would become an extremely easy target for an aggressor. Besides, they are often territorial defence formations, stationed in the place where they live every day and which they defend – the general stresses.

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By Łukasz Lubański

Translated by jz

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