February 21, 2024, 15:25

Death in captivity: human rights defenders report on abuse and torture of Ukrainian POWs by russians

Human rights defenders received the testimony of people released in prisoner exchanges who claim that Ukrainian soldiers died in russian captivity as a result of beatings or torture.

The instances of torture and mistreatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war were discussed by representatives of the Media Initiative for Human Rights (MIHR) during an event at Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform.

“When they are just taken prisoner, they are often already injured in battle and thus they are captured in a wounded state. Therefore, as some witnesses noted, the russians simply did not want to treat them and simply shot them down on the spot. Or there were too many prisoners, they (the russians – Ed.) did not need any information from them, so they chose those who could, in their opinion, tell them something “interesting” and useful. As for all the others, according to a witness who overheard this phrase, the russians “zeroed them out,” Maria Klymyk, MIHR journalist said.

During the so-called “receiving” process, when all POWs are transported to a new place of detention, guards take turns beating them all without exception. Human rights defenders received testimony claiming the death of several prisoners of war during this process.

The conditions of detention do not contribute to the healing of the POWs’ wounds. At the same time, healthy people’s condition significantly worsens in captivity due to poor conditions, constant torture, abuse and beatings.

“Very often, people’s hearts simply stop beating because they are electrocuted on a daily basis. We received testimonies that the electric shock was applied to prisoners until it was completely discharged. Accordingly, people with prior heart conditions simply could not bear it, and their hearts stopped,” added Maria Klymyk.

As for medical assistance, the MIHR journalist noted, most of the prisoners of war could not even ask for it, because in the end it led to more beating not only by the guards, but also sometimes by the medical personnel.

“With constant beatings, the wounds did not have time to heal and festered, medical aid was insufficient, or it was not provided at all. As a result, this also led to death. We have evidence of when people’s bodies are returned from captivity, even though the relatives believed that the person was completely healthy until the last moment. That is, the family received a letter from a prisoner of war. They had confirmation from the Red Cross that the person was in captivity, and he was telling them until the very last moment that his health condition was satisfactory, and everything was fine with the person. But then, one day, relatives receive a phone call, and they are told that the body of the person they have been waiting for is in the morgue and they need to come and identify the body,” the journalist said.

At the same time, Maria Klymyk added that russia returns the bodies of dead prisoners of war in such a bad state that it is very difficult to conduct any kind of examinations to determine the cause of death.

It is worth noting that in response to the MIHR’s inquiry about the number of Ukrainians who died in russian captivity from February 24, 2022 to November 16, 2023, the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine stated 49 people.

Read more: https://mediacenter.org.ua/news