The World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations (WFUWO) hand-delivered two letters concerning the matter of the unfair trial and incarceration of former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko to international leaders during the recent 56th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which ended on March 12 in New York City.
During a briefing held at the Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations on February 29, Irene Jarosewich, WFUWO Representative to the United Nations Department of Public Information, delivered a letter addressed to US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton. In the letter, WFUWO President Maria Szkambara thanked the Secretary of State for “your support of Ukraine’s former Prime Minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, for your recent letters on her behalf, your discussions with Ukraine’s President Yanukovych in Munich, and for your meeting with Evegenia Tymoshenko in Washington DC, all within the span of a few weeks. We are grateful for your visible and consistent support of Yulia Tymoshenko and the efforts of the U.S. Department of State to reverse her imprisonment, a dramatic travesty of justice, and an egregious example of selective prosecution.”
She also noted that the WFUWO “continues to hold great hope for the development of democracy in Ukraine. Since 1948, the WFUWO, through our network of women’s organizations, now in 17 countries, has supported all efforts to bring dignity to the people of Ukraine. The empowerment of the individual citizen in a democracy is one of the most profound ways in which to provide people with dignity and we are emboldened by your support.”
Accepting the letter, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issue Melanne Verveer thanked WFUFO for their support of Mrs. Tymoshenko, with whom Mrs. Clinton has met several times. Ambassador Verveer underscored that the Secretary of State is extremely concerned about Yulia Tymoshenko’s well-being and is deeply disappointed at the miscarriage of justice during Mrs. Tymoshenko’s trial in Ukraine.
The following week, on March 7, Nadia Shmigel, WFUWO Main Representative to UN ECOSOC, hand-delivered a letter to Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights prior to the start of a briefing at United Nation’s headquarters. Along with Mrs. Shmigel, attending on the briefing on the situation of human rights worldwide were Marianna Zajac, President, Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, and UNWLA Vice President for Public Relations Lidia Bilous.
During the briefing, Mr. Simonovic responded to the letter, stating that he is familiar with situation surrounding Yulia Tymoshenko and that earlier that day he had met with representatives from Ukraine’s government specifically concerning her trial and imprisonment. He also noted that Eugenia Tymoshenko has been invited to address the Council in Geneva.
In the letter to Mr. Simonovic, WFUWO writes, “We request that you please consider avenues to convince the government of Viktor Yanukovych to step away from this vengeful and destructive plan of action from which, ultimately, all Ukraine suffers. The politically motivated misuse of the judicial system not only denies Mrs. Tymoshenko her basic rights, but also cynically undermines the possibility of a democratic evolution for all of Ukraine’s citizens. Despite enormous odds, Ukraine had begun to move away effectively from the burden of its Soviet past. Yet, in the past two years, the regression has been profound, an egregious example of which is the selective prosecution and confinement of the former prime minister. The people of Ukraine have consistently shown, through public demonstrations, as well as the ballot box, that they want democracy, a society governed with fairness, a welcomed partner in the international community. We, therefore, ask for a show of strong support and encouragement to help Ukraine meet this challenge.”