Friday, August 31, 2012

03 September 2012: court session and protests in Luhansk and Kyiv

Self-defence is no offense: Action in support of the Nigerian student

On 3 September (Monday), at 1 PM, a protest planned in front of General Prosecutor's Office in Kyiv. Protesters will support Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi - a Nigerian student whose rights are breached by police and prosecutor's office of Luhansk city: for defending himself, the guy faces life imprisonment. Similar protest simultaneously will take place in Luhansk.
You and me - do we know much about Nigeria? In the meantime, the citizens of Nigeria will, from now on, know more about Ukraine. They will have enough knowledge not even to think about visiting our country themselves - and not to let their loved ones (if the latter would like, say, to study here) to come here. And they will have a good reason, since foreign (Nigerian included) newspapers have already informed their readers about one of Nigerian students’ story: he might spend the rest of his life in Ukrainian jail just for defending himself and his friend from attackers.

The attack took place in the city of Luhansk at night on 5th of November, 2011. Two Nigerian students were assaulted by local drunk youth, who pushed them to the ground and kicked them, shouting racist insults. While his friend was kicked down unconscious, Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi defended their lives, blindly hitting the attackers with a neck of a broken bottle, inflicting few skin cuts. As a result of police investigation, which passed with some gross procedural violations, Olaolu Femi was charged under articles 115 part 2 and 296 part 4 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine - attempted murder with hooligan motives. According to the investigators, he consciously, «out of obvious disrespect for society» carried out the attack with the use of prepared crime tool - a broken glass bottle. A student from Nigeria is incarcerated in Luhansk pre-trial jail for 10 months already. Prosecutors charge Femi with «completed» act of an attempted murder - despite the fact that the attackers-turned-”victims” received only light injuries. He faces possible life imprisonment.

Next open court session in the case of Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi will take place on 3 September, at 14:30 at the Leninsky district court of Luhansk. At this session the panel of judges should start hearing on substance of the case. Those present in the court will have a chance to see the incident’s participants, find out the results of the pre-trial investigation, hear statements of both parties - “victims” and the defendant’s lawyers.

Civic rights activists from all over the country intend to come regularly to the prosecutor’s office in order to show their discontent regarding the actions of the Luhansk police and prosecutor’s office, who brutally breach the rights of Olaolu Femi. More and more compassionate individuals demand to release Femi from jail as soon as possible, to conduct another, transparent and comprehensive investigation of the incident, and to bring to justice officials responsible for violations during investigation. These demands will be voiced during the protest planned at the Luhansk regional prosecutor’s office (Kotsyubynskogo str., 3) at 12:30 on the day of the court session (contact phone number +380953495325 – Yaroslav). Similar protest will take place in Kyiv at 13:00 at the General Prosecutor’s Office (Riznytska str., 13/15) (contact phone number: +380505313180 – Nina).

The story describing what Luhansk “law enforcement” officers have done to the Nigerian student, already went beyond the borders of the city - or even those of the country, taking more and more international attention. Ukrainian Ombudsman Valeriya Lutkovska and General Prosecutor of Ukraine Viktor Pshonka declared officially that they had taken the student’s case under their personal control. There is no doubt that this story is another disaster for the image of Ukraine. But we still do not give up hope that Ukrainian authorities will take all measures needed in order to correct their shameful mistake and restore the rights of the international student.

"Justice for Olaolu" Initiative

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Write a letter of support to Olaolu Femi

Dear Friends!

The case of Olaolu Femi, who was illegally imprisoned in Luhansk for trying to protect himself from racially motivated attack of group of youth is gaining public attention. We are pleased to hear so many voices of solidarity with the Nigerian student, who might face life imprisonment.

If you want to act in his support - now it is the time for this. Olaolu Femi spent almost 10 months in terrible conditions of the Luhansk pre-trial detention facility and needs moral support. We offer all supporters to send Femi their letters. Ten words which will be written by you in hand writing will reach Olaolu and be more useful than the hundreds of comments in the Internet.

Where to send the letters. Send the letter by regular mail to the following address: arrested Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi, Luhansk pre-trial detention facility, str. 24 Liniya, 4, Lugansk, 91002 Ukraine.

- Femi will be able to read your letter, only if it will be written in English
- According to the procedure, your letters will be read by the staff of the institution. And it is even better - your message can be addressed not only to Femi but also to the administration of the detention facility
- If you want to get an answer from Femi, please notify it in your letter and attach empty envelope and post stamp for Olaolu

The contents of the letter. You do not need to write much - just a few sentences of true support.

Just write. It is worth to refrain from anything that may cause the complications of the conditions of Femi (for example, insults of the attackers, the investigative authorities or pre-trial detention staff , you can express the attitude to the process, but please avoid harsh expressions). Even if you just rewrite following text - it will be a significant help to the person who spent almost 10 months in prison on charges of a crime which he did not commit:

Dear Femi!
I, like many others persons in Ukraine and abroad, was outraged by the news about your imprisonment for an attempt to protect yourself from people who attacked you just because you are different. I am disturbed by the actions of the Ukrainian police and the Prosecutor's office, which used your vulnerable position and fabricated materials of the investigation. I am sure that you are not guilty of a crime, in which you are accused. I believe that justice will prevail – you will be found not guilty, but the real criminals who forced you to spend so much time in prison, will be punished. I shake your hand and wish you patience and immediate release.
Spending small change and a half of an hour of your time, you will support Femi not only morally. The letters and postcards will clearly demonstrate to the administration and investigative authorities public attention and solidarity of society, and worn possible attempts of illigitimate pressure on Femi.

Thank you for your solidarity!

Self-defence is no offence!

Initiative «Justice for Olaolu»

Supporting Olaolu: Financial assistance

Assistance to Olaolu Femi requires costs. The funds are needed to pay for lawyers, buying food and things that are necessary in the pre-trial detention center. Now all of these costs are covered by the Nigerian community of Luhansk, but their resources are fairly limited. As far as offers to gather funds in support of Olaoulu already have been publicized, the Human rights center "Postup" decided to render one of organization accounts for target collecting of donations in support of Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi.

Those willing to provide financial assistance may transfer funds using the following details:

Account# 26006206317560, in JSC "OTP Bank", SWIFT code OTPVUAUK, Luhansk, MFO 300528 (Public Organization "Human Rights Center" Postup ", identification code of legal entity: 35629202). In the payment order must be specified the following payment purpose "charitable contribution to the implementation of statutory tasks (provision of legal aid to Olaolu Femi)

(or in Ukrainian: укр.: р/р 26006206317560, в АТ «ОТП БАНК», м. Луганськ, МФО 300528 (Громадська організація «Правозахисний центр «Поступ» , Ідентифікаційний код юридичної особи: 35629202). У призначенні платежу необхідно вказувати "Благодійний безповоротній внесок для виконання статутних завдань (Надання правової допомоги Олаолу Сункамі Фемі)").

Only funds collected by the campaign to support Femi will be accumulated in this account. Organization will regularly publish information on income and expenditure on this account.

Appeal in relation to the Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi trial

"Losing life or spending it in jail": a choice offered to foreign student by Ukrainian Justice

Appeal in relation to the Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi trial

Twenty-six years old Nigerian Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi arrived to Ukraine in 2007 to pursue higher education. He graduated from the three full courses of Taras Shevchenko National University of Luhansk. This year like his classmates Olaolu Femi was supposed to get a bachelor's degree. But when the other Nigerian students participated in solemn graduation ceremony – he already was in prison for more than six months. Classmates are trying to help his friend, and the rector of Luhansk National University confirms that the University does not abandon its student. However tragic, an incident that happened to Olaolu, can wipe off not only his bachelor's degree, but the whole life. And it certainly might cause doubts among international students who ever considered an option of coming to Ukraine to study.

Femi and his friend Eniola Sudadi will remember the night of November 5, 2011 for their whole lives. This is when they became victims of racially motivated attack commited by five young people at the entrance of a building where an apartment was rented by another Nigerian student. Attackers, fuelled by alcohol, first insulted Nigerians, and later knocked them down, starting to kick and punch them. Eniola was unable to rise from the ground. Only Femi could defend him and his friend, confronting attackers with a broken glass bottle's neck. As a result, three attackers - Vitaliy Haman, Dmytro Lemenchuk and Artem Loboda - received cuts of their hands, necks and heads, and the attackers’ friend Iryna Pashkova, who participated in the incident, received facial and head bruises.

The next day Olaolu Femi was detained, and by the court decision imprisoned in Luhansk pre-trial detention center where he still stays at the moment of writing.

Olaolu Femi was charged under Article 115 Part 2, and Article 296 Part 4 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine - the attempted premeditated murder with the motive of hooliganism. According to investigators, he "with the motive of clear disrespect for society" carried out the attack with a prepared crime instrument - a broken glass bottle. Investigators failed to come up with other, more comprehensible and explicable motives of alleged night attack, commited by a Nigerian student against a group of local youngsters. Despite the fact that the injuries received by the attackers were officially considered "light injuries", and the fact that the type of injuries indicate they were inflicted during self-defence, not the attack , - despite all this, Femi is charged with "completed act of" an attempted murder, and therefore might face life imprisonment.