Amnesty accuses Ukraine rivals of war crimes
Amnesty International accused rival fighters in the Ukraine conflict of war crimes including indiscriminate shelling, abductions, torture, and killings, in a report compiled ahead of the ceasefire deal.
"All sides in this conflict have shown disregard for civilian lives and are blatantly violating their international obligations," Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty said in the report published Sunday.
The London-based rights group also charged that Russia -- accused by the West of secretly sending in troops and heavy weapons to support the rebels -- had been "fuelling separatist crimes" in Ukraine.
It said its researchers on the ground had interviewed people fleeing the fighting in a string of cities across the war-ravaged eastern industrial belt.
Civilians they spoke to said Ukrainian government forces had subjected their neighbourhoods to heavy shelling.
"Their testimonies suggest that the attacks were indiscriminate and may amount to war crimes," it said.
"Witnesses also said that separatist fighters abducted, tortured, and killed their neighbours."
Much of the report was devoted to Amnesty's charges that Russia had been fuelling what it described as an "international armed conflict," both through direct interference and by supporting the separatists.
It said it had satellite images and testimony that provided "compelling evidence" of the flow of Russian weapons, claims also made by Western leaders and NATO but dismissed as propaganda by Moscow.
"Russia must stop the steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations," it said.
Amnesty said it had also received credible reports of abductions and beatings carried out by volunteer battalions operating alongside regular Ukrainian armed forces.
"Civilians in Ukraine deserve protection and justice," Shetty said.
"Without a thorough and independent investigation, there's a real risk Ukrainians will harbour the scars of this war for generations."
© 2014 AFP