Speaking in front of the UN General Assembly before the vote on the resolution on the Crimea December 19, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Serhiy Kyslitsa called on the world "to light a candle of hope", reminding everyone about the destructive power of silence.
QHA edition provides the text of the Ukrainian diplomat’s emotional speech, published on the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine website.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those delegations which granted their support to the Resolution “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)” a month ago in the Third Committee.
Resolutions put to vote today in the General Assembly truly show that ‘These are the times that try men’s souls’ [as Thomas Paine wrote in his work that saw light on the very same day, 19th December, 240 years ago.]
The evil of gross violations of human rights, war crimes, military aggression and intrusions have undermined the very fundamentals of the global system of peace and security where the United Nations and the Security Council are meant to be the centre piece.
Since the occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine) the human rights situation on the peninsula has deteriorated sharply, serious violations and abuses committed against residents of Crimea have been reported multiple times.
The latest Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, released on 8 December 2016, describes the situation in Crimea as a “climate of repression against dissenting voices”. This gruesome picture of the state of affairs was reflected in all the statements but the Russian one during the interactive dialogue at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 12 December this year.
The Human Rights Council is and will remain the point of reference to address human rights' violations. However, the voice of the General Assembly gives a powerful message to perpetrators and the instruction to act to all bodies and agencies of the UN system wherever they are. We are immensely grateful to each and every one who will amplify the power of voice of the Assembly today.
However, silence, as history proves, could be even more powerful and damaging. It goes hand in hand with complacency and it makes the silent ones complicit. This sort of silence has led to crimes such as genocide. It happened in Ukraine in 1932-33 when the Moscow designed Great Famine, the Holodomor, killed millions; it happened in Africa; and in other parts of the world. Silence should not be what we hear in the General Assembly. Here the power of voice of every nation is strong no matter its size or geography.
I cannot but mention on this occasion one of the greatest African American champions for human rights, Dr Martin Luther King, and I quote, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Those suffering at the hands of the occupying regime in Crimea are frightened and helpless. They live without any chance to defend their rights, to protest or to be heard.
Ukraine will spare no efforts to urge the Russian Federation to ensure full compliance with its obligations as an occupying power according to international law, and to ensure safe and unfettered access for international human rights mechanisms to the temporarily occupied peninsula to monitor and report on the situation in accordance with their mandate.
I also call upon delegations in this room to use every available opportunity to address human rights issues in Crimea with the Russian Federation and insist on full respect for human rights and for Russia’s obligations to protect them under international law.
Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars Mr. Ahtem Chiygoz, who has for almost two years been illegally imprisoned by the occupants said, “The world is on the threshold of choice between democratic values and economic benefits. We made our choice, and you?”
However, let us not curse the forces of darkness, but light a candle of hope. Every vote cast today in support of the Resolution “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)” is such a candle.
And I thank you on behalf of all peoples of Ukraine, who strive to live a life of peace and freedom with every nation of the world.”
Earlier QHA reported that at the 65th plenary session of the UN General Assembly on December 19, resolution "On the situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)" was adopted by a majority. Over 70 delegations voted in favor, and 77 abstained. The delegation of Russia, Belarus, Serbia, China, Armenia and several African delegations voted against the resolution.
Later, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine stressed that the voting for the resolution on human rights in Crimea at the meeting of the UN General Assembly, the world gave a clear signal to the Russian occupying power: Those violating the rights of the Crimean people will be held accountable.