Our Voices

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights condemns invasion and bombardment of Ukraine, urges action

Washington, D.C.—Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, together with our international affiliates, strongly condemns Russia’s unprovoked invasion and bombardment of Ukraine, resulting in growing numbers of human casualties and a burgeoning humanitarian crisis.

“As a human rights organization committed to promoting peace, protecting civic space, and holding governments accountable, we call for the immediate halt of hostilities, strict adherence to human rights and humanitarian law, and the protection of civilians within and outside Ukrainian borders affected by this crisis,” RFK Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy said.

Since Russia openly defied international law by launching a military invasion into Ukraine, grave human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law are no longer a threat but a reality. Since last Thursday’s invasion, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has recorded at least 536 civilian casualties, including 136 people killed, 13 of whom were children.

Along with condemning this unnecessary tragedy, we express our utmost concern for increased crackdowns and detentions of anti-war protesters in Russia, and demand their immediate release. Civic space in Russia is already significantly closed, with strong censorship over independent media, civil society, and opposition voices. And as people across the country courageously voiced their opposition to the invasion, the government responded with further repression, detaining thousands of demonstrators in a matter of days. Journalists on the frontlines are at risk of being targeted, and the Committee to Protect Journalists has already reported that Russian authorities charged at least five journalists for covering the anti-war protests. Government authorities must fully respect the rights and protection of protestors and journalists covering the invasion.

Russia’s invasion has displaced hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reporting that around 660,000 refugees have fled the country. Though neighboring countries have rightfully welcomed Ukrainian refugees, we are concerned about reports of non-white people trapped at the Ukrainian border, unable to flee. In the coming months, as countless more refugees seek safety in new and unfamiliar countries, whether from Ukraine or other imperiled locations, we must practice empathy and firmly uphold the human rights of asylum seekers—no matter their country of origin or race.

“Governments must act on the tragically extensive knowledge of the irreparable toll of wars on humanity, through history’s long lens as well as ongoing conflicts around the world, including Syria, Yemen, and Myanmar that continue to harm nations,” Kennedy said.

For journalists and human rights defenders responding to the invasion, a non-exhaustive roundup of resources and emergency fund sources is available here.