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

A biscuit and a quotation: how to make people aware


In 1995 the UNESCO declared a day to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance: the International Day for Tolerance that is observed on November 16. This day marks the finale of the international week against discrimination and intolerance “Crystal night – never again!” that is annually organised by Youth Human Rights Movement in different Russian and Ukrainian cities.

Because the application for a kind of little street festival was not accepted by the local authorities by reason of lateness responsible volunteers Didi Mayr (Austrian for Voronezh’s local Youth cooperation centre “Passage Zebra”) and Lisa E. Wagner (German for Voronezh’s YHRM office) thought of a simple but worthwhile action in the city centre. As a result 500 leaflets were printed to be distributed. The one page spoke about the date and showed the emblems of declaring institutions UNESCO and UNO, on the other page there was written down a quotation to the issue of tolerance and were shown the emblems of Passage Zebra and YHRM.

But to leave a more permanent impression another idea was realised: More than fife hundred biscuits were baked in a nighttime action to give them as fresh as possible to Voronezh inhabitants – as a gift and to make the street action more remarkable.

On the actual International Day for Tolerance Didi Mayr and Lisa E. Wagner accompanied by Antoine Folkmann (french volunteer of “Passage Zebra”) headed the place in front of the cinema “Proletarii” to distribute the leaflets and the biscuits there.

The pedestrians reacted differently to the offered: especially a lot of youngsters (probably students of Voronezh state university) accepted them with an interested view and smiled appreciatory – as soon as they recognised the reason of this action. Few even appealed to the distributing volunteers asking for further information about the day, the organisations or other activities. A youngster even appended the leaflet onto his jacket and so passed the information further on. It was obviously that most of the pedestrians appreciated this action.

On the other hand a lot of people did not even accept the offered leaflet and biscuit. An elder woman handed it back to Didi Mayr with the words: “Tolerance – not interested! I am a fascist.” Some youngsters in army outfits asked Lisa E. Wagner for what reason she promoted this International Day.

These negative examples do not debase the meaning and the success of this action: to raise a wider awareness for the International Day for Tolerance within Voronezh’s population.

Lisa E. Wagner
volunteer YHRM Voronezh