In occupied Ukraine, the archipelago of Moscow “filtration camps”

In occupied Ukraine, the archipelago of Moscow "filtration camps"
Satellite view of the Bezimenne filtration camp, March 22, 2022. We see tents and a long line of vehicles coming from Mariupol (Ukraine), to the west.

The Russian authorities have developed in recent months a system of “filtration camps” through which several million Ukrainians, including women, old people and children, passed through the Donetsk region, conquered by force. This is the conclusion of a study carried out by experts from Yale University, the Smithsonian Institution and PlanetScape AI on behalf of the Conflict Observatory project, created by the US State Department. Published at the end of August, the study is based on open sources, satellite photos and the Esri mapping program.

American researchers accurately describe and document extremely serious facts. The system includes 21 places through which Ukrainian citizens of areas occupied by the Russian army are forced to pass to move from one city to another, to go to Ukraine under government control, or to reach Russia. Places are divided into four types: registration offices, short-term detention centers, buildings where interrogations take place, and long-term detention centers.

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The authors of the study identify five types of human rights violations: torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions of detention; forcible transfer to the territory of Russia; the abduction of minors from their parents; forced labor; the massive collection of personal data outside any legal framework.

The study corroborates testimonies gathered in the Zaporijia region by The world during the months of April, May and June, with Mariupolitains who managed to leave the occupied zone. Half of the camps are located within a radius of 50 km around the city of Mariupol (450,000 inhabitants), conquered in mid-May after being completely ravaged by three months of continuous bombing.

Collection of biometric data

A filter camp is considered verified by the authors if it is supported by “at least five independent open sources” and distinct overlapping. Satellite images have been used to confirm the location of the installation or obtain evidence that the site is used as a filtration camp, thanks to the presence of rows of tents and buses. Conflict Observatory identified a dozen additional suspect camps, but did not find enough data to affirm their nature with certainty.

Thursday 1er September, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) drove the point home by publishing a report with similar conclusions, but based on the testimonies of twenty people “filtered” between March 15 and May 6, many of whom came from Mariupol. Many describe the fear, desperation and helplessness they felt when they went to the filtration points. “They didn’t know what was in store for them, but they knew going back to the horror of Mariupol was not an option, and they thought the only way to enable them to escape hostilities and danger was to go through the process », explains the NGO. According to these witnesses, the “filtering” points were set up sometimes in police stations, sometimes in community centers or makeshift camps.

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