Competing Rights of Association In Eastern Europe
What does it mean for a whole country to demand the freedom to peacefully assemble and associate? Right now, Ukraine is doing just that.
Mobs crowd the streets. Violence fills the night air. Ukrainians attack their own police stations. “Late Sunday, about 300 supporters of the Kiev government gathered outside the regional police headquarters to demand that the armed pro-Russian demonstrators be punished. Carrying sticks and bats, they chanted, “Glory to Ukraine!” The Ukrainian government has reinstated a draft for men 18 and older. Ukrainian helicopters are being shot down over at least one pro-Russian city.
This follows after Russia annexed Crimea and stationed troops at the Ukrainian border, presumably troops which are ready to incur more Ukrainian territory. It is unclear if Ukraine is the only country at risk of falling under Russian power. And meanwhile, chaos is spreading throughout Ukraine and the world as we anxiously watch Eastern Europe react to Russia’s strong-arming. We anxiously remember the Cold War and the power a corrupt Russia once had.
In the midst of this unrest, Ukrainian citizens decide which country they wish to be citizens of.
The Freedom of Association, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the right to come together with other individuals and collectively express, promote, and pursue and defend common interests.
But who has the right to associate in this circumstance? Those who want to be Ukrainian? Or those who want to be Russian? And whose rights trump whose when both cannot peacefully assemble together?