Today, as the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship opens in my own country, I’m reminded of the last acts of former colleague Terry Hallman, a human rights activist and a pioneer of social enterprise in Ukraine. In May 2011, he draws the attention of US Ambassador John Tefft, for the need to take a stronger position on the persecution of Ukraine’s political opposition.
The Honorable John Tefft
Ambassador of the United States
U.S. Embassy in Ukraine:
10, Yuriy Kotsyubynsky St.
Kyiv, Ukraine 01901
Terry E. Hallman
24A 54 Zolochevskaya
Kharkiv, Ukraine 61177
May 13, 2011
Dear Mr. Ambassador:
This is to request much stronger US support for former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko. As you
know, he is being held in prison and is consequently on a hunger strike in protest of gross
violations of civil and political rights.
The reason for his unending detention is very straightforward. As Interior Minister under
President Yushchenko, he had the temerity to try and fulfill Yushchenko’s campaign promise
‘Bandits to Prison.’ Now those ‘bandits’ are back in control of Ukraine. Lutsenko is the symbol
of their revenge. His destruction is to serve as a warning that challenges to Ukraine’s criminal
bosses will not be tolerated. Today, Amnesty International released a report condemning
sharp increases in violations of civil and political rights across Ukraine. Yuri Lutsenko is the
preeminent symbol. I feel sure he is aware of his position, and his moral obligation to
protest. He is now a political prisoner.
Mr. Lutsenko’s condition can only be truthfully monitored by his wife. His wife has been
allowed to visit maybe once per week. She says his condition in deteriorating quickly. That is
consistent with a three-week hunger strike.
Please, arrange at the least a more forceful statement of position regarding Lutsenko.
Obviously, this is an emergency situation. His case is being deliberated before the European
Court of Human Rights, but time is running out. If he perishes, USAID might just as well cut
Ukraine’s budget by 90%. The $130 million being requested for Ukraine could only be
wasted. Congress is in a mood to do that.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter. Maidan and Kharkiv Human Rights
Group also extend their thanks.
Terry E. Hallman