Thank you very much. It's an honour for us to be here, and we are very grateful for the opportunity.
We represent the Ukrainian Canadian community in Canada in all of our branches and member organizations. We have six provincial councils, 19 local branches, and 29 national member organizations. We speak on Ukraine and issues of importance for the community here in Canada. The recent census tells us that there are around 1.4 million people in the Ukrainian-Canadian community in Canada.
As well, we work closely with our partners at the Ukrainian World Congress and other ethnocultural communities in Canada. We work with the Government of Canada through CUSAC, the Canada Ukraine Stakeholder Advisory Council, where we speak about Canada-Ukraine relations. Also, we regularly meet with members of Parliament, politicians, stakeholders, and other policy-makers.
You've invited us here today to talk about the human rights situation in Ukraine. As we know, Ukraine is a country at war. Since 2014, Russia has waged a war of aggression against Ukraine. Crimea and parts of the eastern Ukrainian oblasts—or regions—of Donetsk and Luhansk are under Russian occupation.
Russia's war has led to over 10,000 deaths, 24,000 wounded, and over 1.5 million internally displaced people. Far from being a frozen conflict, Russia's war against Ukraine is a hot war, in which Ukrainian soldiers and civilians die every day.
In the parts of sovereign Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia, the occupational authorities have instituted a regime that systematically, purposefully, and methodically violates internationally recognized human rights. It's these actions that we feel Russia wants to hide from the world as it hosts the FIFA World Cup starting in mid-June. Our organization, UCC, will be part of a global information campaign to highlight the deplorable human rights record of the Putin regime, and we call on all members of Parliament to ensure this message reaches as wide an audience as possible.
In Crimea, a regime of terror has been implemented against the indigenous Crimean Tatar population, ethnic Ukrainians, and anyone who opposes Russia's occupation. The severe restrictions on and violations of internationally recognized human rights that have been documented include restrictions on and violations of freedom of expression; the right to the equal protection of the law; the right to a fair trial; freedom of assembly and association; freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; and freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.
In April 2016, the Russian authorities banned the Mejlis, the representative assembly of the Crimean Tatar people. Since the beginning of Russia's occupation, there has been a campaign against the Crimean Tatar people, ethnic Ukrainians, and other institutions of both groups, and they have been systematically targeted in an attempt to quash dissent in the peninsula.
Illegal arrests, detentions, searches, and intimidation are commonplace tactics in Crimea. Over 70 Ukrainian citizens are illegally imprisoned today, either in Crimea or in the Russian Federation, on falsified charges. Many have been handed long prison sentences for no crime other than opposing Russia's invasion and occupation.
These are people like Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker from Crimea who opposed Russia's invasion, and Volodymyr Balukh, another who is in prison for his views. Both Balukh and Sentsov are part of a group of people on hunger strikes, as are several other Ukrainian prisoners, in opposition to their illegal imprisonment. Earlier this week, on June 4, Russia sentenced Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko to 12 years in prison on fabricated espionage charges.
Russia has consistently ignored the international community's demand for the release of these Ukrainian political prisoners. As one of Ukraine's staunchest international allies, Canada has a unique opportunity to leverage the G7 presidency to support peace and security in Ukraine and to ensure that Ukrainian political prisoners jailed by Russia are released and returned home to their families. In our letter to the Prime Minister, public statements, and numerous meetings with Canadian officials, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress has called on the Government of Canada to ensure that ending Russia's aggression against Ukraine will be a priority of the G7 leaders' summit.
Since the adoption of the Magnitsky act in October of 2017, the Government of Canada has had the tools to sanction Russian officials responsible for these violations of internationally recognized human rights. The government has not taken any action thus far against the Russian judges, prosecutors, investigators, security service officials, and politicians responsible for these violations. Therefore, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress recommends that the government immediately use the tools available in the Magnitsky act to implement sanctions against Russian officials responsible for the violations of internationally recognized human rights of Ukrainian citizens.
I will now turn it over to my colleague Orest Zakydalsky.