On January 12, the Ukrainian Political Prisoner Day is marked in Ukraine. Initiated in resistance to the repression and brutality of the Soviet regime, this day has taken on a new meaning in modern Ukrainian history as Russian authorities continue to imprison Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars who oppose the occupying power and Kremlin aggression.
The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Liudmyla Denisova, wrote about this on her Facebook page.
“Russia is persecuting 130 Ukrainian citizens on political and religious grounds, 121 of whom are being held in prison, including two women (15 in the temporarily occupied Crimea, 106 in the Russian Federation) and nine who have been deprived of their right to freedom of movement. Seventy-six people have already been sentenced to long terms, while the remaining 45 are on trial and under investigation,” Denisova said.
The ombudswoman recalled that among prisoners are those who have many children in the family, people suffering from serious diseases, civil journalists, and human rights activists, adding that 207 underage children were left without parental care in the families of Ukrainian political prisoners held by the Kremlin.
“Through neglecting international humanitarian law, unlawfully held Ukrainian citizens have their rights continuously violated, including those to a fair trial, an effective remedy, freedom and personal integrity, medical care, and freedom of religion,” she said, adding that protecting citizens’ rights and having them released remains a priority and a common task of Ukrainian authorities and the international community.
It should be recalled that on January 12, 1972, arrests of brilliant historians, publicists, and writers who advocated Ukrainian independence were unleashed in Lviv and Kyiv. Among those arrested were Vasyl Stus, Stefania Shabatura, Vyacheslav Chornovil, Mykhailo Osadchy, and Ivan Svitlychny. The raid lasted three days. All detainees were accused of anti-Soviet propaganda and agitation, and many of them were prosecuted on fabricated criminal charges. Almost all of them received severe verdicts.
That is why annually, on January 12, Ukraine honors the memory of all political prisoners who fought for the independence of their country and defended their rights.