Happening of the human rights organization Amnesty International on the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and commemoration of war crimes committed against civilians, February 15, 2023, Prague. The author of the happening poses for photographers.
Prague – Today, a performance of 480 pairs of shoes representing the disappeared civilians in Ukraine was created on the Old Town Square in Prague. The Amnesty International (AI) movement together with the Ukrainian scenographer Margarita Chala tried to bring the atmosphere of fear and hopelessness closer to the public. According to the movement, the goal of the project is to appeal for the fastest possible investigation of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
According to Irena Hůlové, head of advocacy at the Czech branch of AI, the pairs of shoes symbolize only a fraction of the lives that were lost due to this war. After the exhibition on the Old Town Square, the shoes will travel to the Kherson region. In addition to the shoes, the production also included a demolished wall on which Chala spray-painted the inscription “Russia, stop the killing” in red during the opening speeches. The organizers of the event plan to display the wall in other places in Prague as well.
“Amnesty International strives to ensure that atrocities against civilians are investigated and their perpetrators are held accountable. We consider it necessary to establish an international tribunal, which will urgently investigate all war crimes and atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine,” said Hůlová.
According to the movement, the Amnesty Crisis Evidence Lab is gathering evidence to investigate war crimes committed by the Russians. The movement points to information that the Russian army is fighting with banned weapons, such as cluster munitions. At the same time, AI informs that the Russians are making it impossible to evacuate civilians and deliver humanitarian aid.
“When bread or water arrives, people start gathering around the truck and they start firing. While people are standing in line for bread, they hit them grenades,” Ukrainian citizen Oleksandr told Amnesty investigators.
In early February, Polish President Andrzej Duda and German Attorney General Peter Frank called for the establishment of a special war tribunal to try Russian crimes in Ukraine. MEPs or representatives of European countries, including the Czech Republic, have previously called for the creation of such an institution.
On Friday, February 24, one year will pass since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Russian military launched an air and ground attack in the early hours of Thursday, February 24, 2022. As of February 6, the United Nations confirmed the deaths of 7,155 civilians, including 438 children. At the same time, she pointed out that there are probably many more dead and injured. The figures given include only documented and confirmed victims of the war.
Russian aggression has sparked a huge wave of solidarity in the Czech Republic and abroad.
Amnesty International is an independent, apolitical, human rights movement that follows cases violation of human rights and freedoms. The purpose of the movement is, among other things, to stand up for political prisoners or organize actions against injustice. The movement stated that its activities contributed to the release of more than 50,000 political prisoners and those unjustly imprisoned, including Václav Havel.