Analytics and Interview

On 16 January 2015 late in the evening the website of the Ministry of Justice published a statement that the NGO Committee Against Torture had been added to the register of non-profit organizations designated as ‘foreign agents’.
Tanya Lokshina is the Russia program director at Human Rights Watch and Honorary Participant of International Youth Human Rights Movement: As the crisis in Ukraine escalated this spring, the Kremlin’s vicious crackdown on civil society also escalated. Space for independent civic activity in Russia is shrinking dramatically, but international policymakers and the media have been understandably too distracted to do much about it. Since early spring, it seems as though every week brings a new pernicious law or legislative proposal.
Earlier this year, the correspondent of Youth Human Rights Movement from Germany Jakob Stürmann interviewed Konstantin Baranov, member of the Coordination Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement. They discussed so called “law against homosexual propaganda” and the overall situation of LGBT in Russia.  

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Oleg Sentsov, Olexander Kolchenko, Hennadiy Afanasiev and Oleksiy Chyrniy have been held in Russian jails for two years already under fabricated charges of ‘terrorism’. We consider it being necessary to express solidarity with those who are persecuted due to their pro-Ukrainian views, civic stand and desire for freedom in Russia-annexed Crimea.
Helsinki Committee of Armenia has published “Human Rights in Armenia 2014” Annual Report. The report reflects on the Right to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, Political Persecutions, Freedom of Conscience and Religion, The Rights of the Child, Protection of Labor Rights.
«We have a few questions for you,» a border guard told Sinaver Kadyrov, a Crimean Tatar activist, at the Armyansk checkpoint in northern Crimea on Jan. 23. Kadyrov was on his way to Kherson, in southern Ukraine, to fly to Turkey for medical treatment. It was the beginning of an ordeal that ended with a local court expelling him from Crimea, his home of almost 25 years.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority It is time to sit back and reflect.

Mark Twain


Youth Human Rights Movement

From 17th to 22nd of June in Amsterdam took place an educational trip on antiracism, antidiscrimination and alternative social projects

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During this week participants from Russia, Belarus, Macedonia and Ukraine got acquainted with formal and non-formal educational structures for intercultural learning, civil society initiatives and met with Dutch activists and officials to discuss and exchange good practice in anti-discrimination youth work.

The study visit was organized by: Action Reconciliation Service for Peace in cooperation with UNITED for Intercultural Action and Youth Human Rights Movement.
The Youth Human Rights Movement activist Maxim Lobanoff shares his impressions about the week in The Netherlands

What was the most surprising visit for you?
The group “Pink in blue” at the Dutch police. The thing is that in the Amsterdam police, exist sections that work with different minority groups - “Pink in blue” is responsible for the protection of LGBT citizens rights. Members of this group cooperate with victims of discrimination or crime based on sexual orientation. The work of the “Pink in blue” is made visible thanks to the participation in events organized by LGBT organisations in Amsterdam, like for example the commemoration of the killings of Gays and Lesbians during the Second World War - held in occasion of the Remembrance of the Dead on 4th of May -, but also in gay-parades.

The next one is “School without racism”- one of the oldest colleges in Netherlands where study more than 12 thousand students. We had the possibility to talk with teachers and students from the school, trying to discover where is the secret of peaceful co-existence between students from different national and ethnical background. In this school, a special teacher is responsible for keep an open dialogue with students from different background. He acts as a mediator and solves appearing problems. Besides that, there are theatre and various groups inside the school, during these activities students socialize with each other. During our visit we had an occasion to talk with refugees from the Middle and Far East. From their point of view, there are no real problems with their adaptation.

Did you visit the Anne Frank House?
Yes, and also the “Free2Choose”.exhibition. The Anne Frank museum is a house where during the Second World War was hidden the family of a little Jewish girl. During this time Anne Frank kept a diary where she described her experiences and feelings. At the end, the family of Anne was betrayed and deported, but Anne’s father survived and after the war, their house was converted into a museum. The Anne Frank House not only organizes exhibitions but also helps to realize projects and exhibitions in lots of different countries as part of their anti-discrimination commitment. One of the most successful project was “Free2Choose”. Visitors of the museum are shown short films on the subject of discrimination. These films rise some controversial questions and at the end, everyone expresses their opinions and formulate good arguments.

The visit to the concentration camp Hertogenbosch made a very strong impression on me. We have seen with our own eyes the place where the most cruel crimes happened crimes justified by discrimination based on ethnic background, religious affiliation and sexual orientation were committed in this place. These type of visits are today used as a very significant instrument to takle xenophobia.

What kind of state structures and social organizations you visited?
Office of High Commissioner on National Minorities of OSCE. The office was established in 1992 since then, the commissioner identifies and seeks early resolution of ethnic tension that might endanger peace, stability or friendly relations between participating states of the OSCE. Office employees told about tactics and mechanisms used, nowadays, in solving problems resulting from ethnical background.

Another very interesting organisations was the Amsterdam Discrimination Complaints Committee. The Committee helps people who are victims of discrimination based on religious affiliation, race, gender, age, sexual orientation or family background. Under the request of their clients, the office workers bring the cases to court and support them during the whole trial. The office also monitors discrimination in Netherlands.

The whole visit made huge impression on me. On the one hand those things we have seen in Netherlands are absolutely impossible and irreplaceable in Russian conditions, starting from “School Without Racism” where students from completely different national and ethnical background study side by side and at the same time there is a place for developing as individual human-being. Finishing with police group “Pink in blue”. During our trip the activists of those organizations we visited emphasized that the situation we see in Netherlands was not realized in one day. They also started from very small steps several dozen years ago. That’s why despite of all knowledge and methods we got to know during our visit we have got home with very clear view that big changes in society require serious and long-term work. We mustn’t spread our arms helplessly but make our way to achieve our aims.

This study trip was made possible with the financial assistance from the European Union (Youth in Action Programme), the Matra Programme of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The contents of this project are the sole responsibility of ASF and UNITED and under no circumstances reflect the position of the sponsors.