In Crimea children are taught to love war from toddlerhood – human rights defenders

In the occupied Crimea, in addition to permanent violation of human rights and freedoms and strengthening of political repression, there is total militarization of public conscience, misinformation and cultivation of hatred in schools towards Ukraine.

As reported Olga Skrypnyk and Irina Sedova, representatives of the Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG), during the broadcast of UKRLIFE.TV, and announced a thematic review of the militarization of the Russian-occupied Crimea.

According to human rights defenders, it is important to highlight the work with children. After all, in part 1of Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child it is stated that the preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin.

A child of preschool age is holding a assualt rifle at the "Race of heroes" event in Crimea, Angarsyi Pass, June 18, 2016

At the same time children education of a positive attitude towards the army, the military and paramilitary formations, inclination of children and young people to military service in the army of the occupying state, creation of a positive image of the war, leads to the violation of this basic right enshrined in the international instrument, which was ratified by the Russian Federation in August 23, 1993.

According to Irina Sedova, an analytic of the CHRG, in Crimean children and young people are taught to use firearms, to wear military uniform. Children are introduced to different types of weapons, taught lessons of martial arts, basics of warfare science. One of the core values, which is embedded in the minds of children, at these classes – is a victory in the war with the help of armed conflict.

“With the use of such education legalization of the occupation of Crimea and the actions of paramilitary groups is happening in the minds of children. Thus the inhabitants of Ukrainian peninsula are taught to feel as citizens of Russia from childhood and are prepared to protect the interests of the occupying authority, including the means of service in its armed forces or in service in the paramilitary group”, - the expert explained.

According to Irina Sedova, a significant amount of such propaganda is spread through the de facto functioning Russian education system in the Crimea.

“From the end of 2014 an implementation of Russian education and mentoring strategy started in the Crimea. In particular, the strategy states that one of the tasks of the education is until 2025 to complete goals such as “formation of patriotism in children, a sense of pride for their country, readiness to protect the interests of the Fatherland, the responsibility for the future of Russia on the basis of patriotic education programs for children, including the military-patriotic education”, - said Sedova.

Currently, the state program “On the patriotic education of citizens of the Russian Federation in 2016-2020” is in the process of implementation in the Crimea. One of the purposes of this program is the military-patriotic education of Russian citizens and formation of positive motivation regarding military service in the youth.

At the same time Article 51 of the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, “On the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War” prohibits all kinds of propaganda of voluntary enlistment into the army in the occupied territories. The same article of the Convention prohibits forcing residents of the occupied territories to serve in armed or auxiliary forces of the occupying power.

According to representatives of the CHRG, systematic violations of this legal norm have been recorded on the territory of Crimea from April 2014.

In particular, on July 17, 2015, exhibition of military equipment, with the purpose of promoting military service in the Southern Military District, on the square near the Korabelov in Kerch.

The militarization of children’s consciousness is not only conducted by the military and the government, but public institutions, social organizations and Orthodox priests of the Moscow Patriarchate.

For example, in October 2016, school students of the school №37 of Simferopol went on a trip to the military base as part of the “lessons of courage and patriotism on example of the holy warrior Fyodor Ushakov”.

“And the worst is the way how Ukraine is presented through the prism of propaganda to Crimeans. Amidst all these military events a cult of hatred towards Ukraine and Ukrainians is forming. A lot of resources are allocated to “brainwash” children. Because child is a clean sheet and his outlook is easier to shape than in adults. In five or seven years after such aggressive militarization of consciousness the child will sincerely think that Ukraine is so terrible that there really is “junta” and believe in all these “scary stories”, which are spread by Russian propaganda”, - said Olga Skrypnyk, the coordinator of the Crimean Human Rights Group.

According to her, another dangerous point of militarization – is cult of violence, which is produced in such a way that children have an impression that there are crimes which can be forgiven. Which can be ignored. For example, if Ukrainian activist was detained then it is allowed since he is supporter of “junta”. An opinion is formed that violence – is norm. And use of selective violence – is also norm. That you can beat someone, detain, abduct and be unpunished.

Skrypnyk also said that through the means of monumental propaganda (inauguration of the memorials), through open lessons in schools an image of impunity and people’s to various paramilitary forces is being created. But, according to the Criminal Code “Crimean self-defense” and Crimean “Cossacks” can be classified as “criminal syndicates”.

“These people are regularly committing various crimes. They have their own hierarchy, which is resembling military hierarchy. And the literally have “blood on their hands”. Apart from military there were real victims during the occupation of Crimea, people died from the actions of Crimean paramilitary groups. First victim was Reshat Ametov. He was abducted by “Crimean self-defense”. Their identities were established, but the so-called Crimean “investigation” said that they are just witnesses. Nobody was punished for this crime. And there are at least nine similar cases recorded by the Crimean Human Rights Group. But the perpetrators of these crimes are not treated like killers and kidnappers. The propaganda system in the Crimea creates a completely different picture of a world. People genuinely believe that the Cossacks and militiamen freed them from “Ukrainian fascists”. They are treated as heroes. And what will be with those children, who are subjected to propaganda, in 5-7 years?”, - said Skrypnyk.

According to her, there is a replacement of concepts in the Crimea, when war is presented as a celebration and victor in a war – as the decisive value. But war – is death, broken families, grief and tears. In Crimea the depiction of conflict in the Donbass is completely falsified. A huge number of events, dedicated to the victory in the war, are created in a public consciousness, especially in the minds of children, feeling the joy of hostilities. And it does not matter if the war will be in Donbass, in Syria or somewhere else, where it is necessary to the Kremlin.

Human rights defenders are convinced that as long as there is money in Russia, it will be invested into wars and propaganda. Means for solving the problem – the creation of conditions under which money would run out in Russia. That is why it is necessary to continue maintaining sanctions for crimes, which are organized by Russia in the Crimea.

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