Alexei Alexandrov / AP
ATHENS – The human rights organization Amnesty International says Russia committed a war crime by bombing a theater where hundreds of civilians sought refuge during the siege of Mariupol in March, the southern Ukrainian port city that Russian troops destroyed and now occupy.
The strike killed at least a dozen people. Russia blocked Amnesty’s crisis preparedness from entering Mariupol, so researchers interviewed survivors in other parts of Ukraine, examined satellite data and hired a physicist to model the detonation.
In the report ‘Children’: The attack on Donetsk’s regional academic drama theater in Mariupol, Ukrainethe team concluded that the attack “was almost certainly carried out by Russian fighter jets, which dropped two 500 kg bombs that hit close to each other and detonated simultaneously.”
Those who had shelter inside the theater had written the Russian word for children outside the building to make it clear that civilians were inside. The Russians denied responsibility and pointed to Ukraine.
“The Russian Ministry of Defense and official Russian media claimed that it was Ukraine’s Azov regiment that blew up the theater as a false flag operation, an act of sabotage to blame Russia,” Joanne Mariner, Amnesty’s director of crisis preparedness, told NPR . “We investigated it very carefully and also the possibility that it was a Ukrainian air strike. None of them are plausible based on credible evidence. There was also an allegation that the theater was used for military purposes, but none of the witnesses we spoke to saw every military activity except the occasional soldier bringing food to family members. “
She said the team was also investigating whether the strike could have been unintentional. But it was a clear day, and the word for children written on the apron would have been visible from an airplane.
“Even the most superficial surveillance would have made Russian military decision-makers recognize that this was a civilian object with active civilian activity inside,” Mariner said. “
She says she hopes the investigation will provide a roadmap for others who want to research war crimes in places they do not have access to.
“With the technological opportunities we have now … it is possible to reconstruct the strike and reach firm conclusions,” she says. “Russian authorities tried to muddy the water by claiming that this was a Ukrainian attack. And I think we have clearly disproved that.”
Amnesty International is asking the International Criminal Court to investigate the attack as a war crime. “All those who cause such death and destruction must be held accountable,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary general, in a statement.
Russia’s attack on Mariupol theater was a war crime Amnesty International says: NPR
Source link Russia’s attack on Mariupol theater was a war crime Amnesty International says: NPR