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Swedish Amnesty International co-founder quits over Ukraine report

Per Westberg, co-founder of the Swedish branch of Amnesty International, left the organization because the report on Ukraine's violation of the laws of war.

“I have been involved with this organization for almost sixty years. It is with a heavy heart that I am ending my long association with it because of Amnesty's statements about the war in Ukraine,” Westberg said in an interview with Svenska Dagbladet.

AI’s August 4 report said the AFU's tactics violated international humanitarian law by turning civilian facilities into military targets. The human rights activists claim that the Ukrainian military fired heavy weapons from residential areas in at least 19 population centers. According to the reports, in most of cases the AFU had safe alternatives - military bases, thick forests, or remote buildings.

Kyiv has been critical of the organization's report. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused the organization of “creating a false balance between the perpetrator and the victim.” Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine, said that the words about violations by the AFU “are akin to an information campaign aimed to discredit the Armed Forces of Ukraine and undermine the supply of weapons by Western partners.”

“Anyone who amnesties Russia and creates an information context in which terrorist strikes are justified or understandable cannot help but realize that it helps the terrorists,” Zelensky stated.

On August 6, Oksana Pokalchuk, director of AI’s Ukrainian office, announced her resignation. She had been working for the organization for seven years. “Everything crashed against the wall of bureaucracy and deaf language barrier. It's not English, but if you don't live in a country that's been invaded by invaders and tearing it apart, you probably don't understand what it is like to condemn the defense army. And there are no words in any language that are able to deliver it to someone who has not felt this pain,” Pokalchuk wrote.

On August 7, Amnesty International (AI) apologized to Ukraine for the report. At the same time, it did not renounce its conclusions.

“Amnesty International deeply regrets the distress and anger that our press release on the Ukrainian military's fighting tactics has caused. Amnesty International’s priority in this and in any conflict is ensuring that civilians are protected. Indeed, this was our sole objective when releasing this latest piece of research. While we fully stand by our findings, we regret the pain caused,” AI said in an email to Reuters.

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