Oksana Pokalchuk, Head of Amnesty International Ukraine, has announced her resignation from the organization over its report criticizing the Ukrainian military for putting the lives of civilians at risk by using civilian facilities such as schools during the conflict.
In a statement on Facebook, Pokalchuk, said she had tried to dissuade the organization from publishing the report as it appeared.
"This is another loss that the war brought me.... Everything crashed against the wall of bureaucracy and a deaf language barrier," the post said. "If you don't live in a country occupied by invaders that are tearing it to pieces, you probably don't understand what it's like to condemn an army of defenders."
Pokalchuk said, "Since the beginning of the full-scale aggression, we have not stopped emphasizing the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by Russia, the aggressor country. We thoroughly document these violations, and they will form the basis of numerous legal proceedings and help bring those responsible to justice."
Referring to the Amnesty report, she said the report "cannot fail to contain information about the other side of the war, about the one who started this war.... The organization created material that sounded like support for Russian narratives. Seeking to protect civilians, this research instead became a tool of Russian propaganda."
In its report, Amnesty said Ukrainian forces had put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals, as they repelled the Russian invasion that began in February.
Such tactics violate international humanitarian law, Amnesty said.
“We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general.
“Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law," Callamard said.