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Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority It is time to sit back and reflect.
Between 17-20 of February advanced seminar aiming in preparing future trainers in the area of human rights took place. In the seminar participated representatives of various civil and human rights organizations from European part of Russia and from Ukraine and Belarus.
The events have already taken place in Voronezh, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Barnaul, Kharkov, Luhansk, Gorlovka (Ukraine). The action will last till 27th of March.
“Who told us that we live in police states?
Nobody abolished the principle of equality and fraternity here”
Lyapis Trubetskoy and Louna
“Everyone has a right”
Racism must not be tolerated nor ignored - Lets confront it UNITED!
More than 250 coordinated activities organised by 187 grass-roots organisations and different groups in 48 European countries answered to the UNITED call to fight racism, discrimination and intolerance with non-violent action.
The discrimination and exclusion of minorities has a significant impact on society. Political exploitation, hate speech, biased media coverage of topics such as immigration and integration are too often utilised to split society along perceived cultural and religious borders.
During the European-wide Action Week Against Racism the value of equal rights for all is promoted by action such as interactive workshops, marches, exhibitions, discussions, lectures, seminars and much more. All to encourage people to enjoy and value the diversity of today's intercultural society.
21 March is the International Day for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, established by The General Assembly of the United Nations in 1966 following the brutal murder of 69 protestors in the South African township of Sharpeville in 1960. The massacre occurred while they had gathered to protest against the apartheid laws of the South African government, a regime systematically enforcing racial inequality and segregation. Today racist murders and violence are still commonplace and racial discrimination continues to creep into every corner of our societies.
UNITED for Intercultural Action
The campaign is coordinated by UNITED for Intercultural Action - the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees. Within the UNITED network more than 550 organisations from a wide variety of backgrounds, from 48 European countries, work together in common activities and projects. UNITED is and will remain independent from all political parties, organisations and states, but seeks an active co-operation with other anti-racist initiatives in Europe.
UNITED for Intercultural Action
Postbus 413 - NL-1000 AK Amsterdam
phone +31-20-6834778 - fax +31-20-6834582
firstname.lastname@example.org - http://www.unitedagainstracism.org
As human rights and civil society activists, we are highly disturbed by the fact that certain local legislative authorities, namely in Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions and in St. Petersburg, passed discriminatory bills.
We express great concern about the fact that on March 7th, the Governor of St. Petersburg signed the law against the so-called "homosexual propaganda" despite the fact that Vladimir Lukin, Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, regarded such legislation as violation of human rights.
Besides, we are utterly amazed that the Governor signed this illegal bill ignoring the adverse determination by the Legal Directorate of St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, as well as opinions of numerous respected experts in law, sociology, and psychology.
We claim that the proposed legislation against ´homosexual propaganda´ unjustifiably violates the rights of citizens to freedom of assembly and association, as well as their right to seek and receive information. These laws are based on prejudice and doublespeak and are speculating on the interests of child protection.
While we stand against sexual exploitation of minors and violence against them, we think that such laws abet incitement to social hatred, provoke a rise of xenophobia and violence in the society, and can lead to a substantial increase in teen suicides.
We are worried about the sweeping reanimation of fascism in the Russian society, and such legislative initiatives are only adding fuel to the fire. Unfortunately, this case once again demonstrates the improvidence of the local authorities and their anxiety to draw attention to far-fetched issues.
In 2006, The Russian Federation Higher Court repealed the federal law which imposed criminal sanctions for ‘homosexual propaganda’ by virtue of the fact that "performing the above-mentioned actions [gay sexual intercourse] between two adults by mutual consent does present elements neither of a criminal nor of an administrative offense’ (from the official response of the Higher Court of the Russian Federation on April 20, 2006 №492-2).
There is no doubt that these laws will be recognized as breach of Russia’s international obligations in the field of human rights, including The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to which Russia is a signatory. It is certain that they are likely to have strong negative impact on the image of the country abroad.
We call the Russian people to take this case seriously because it is just the first step on the road of imposing new restrictions on the rights of other minorities: religious, ethnic, etc. And those who are applauding vigorously to the “celebration of family values” are likely to find themselves on the black list.
The Moscow Helsinki Group,
International Youth Human Rights Movement,
Russian LGBT Network
If your organization would like to support this manifest, please contact us at email@example.com, including the name of the organization and contact details.
Ales Bialiatski, vice-president FIDH, head of the closed by authorities human rights center "Viasna" and YHRM Honorary Participant has finally been convoyed to Babruisk penal colony No. 2, after he left Zhodzina prison to spend eleven days in a detention center in Minsk, says the human rights defender's wife, quoting the penal facility's administration.
Ales Bialiatski was expected to be convoyed to Babruisk back on 17 February. However, he was transferred to Minsk, instead, and had to wait for his transfer in a detention center in Valadarski Street.
The post address of Babruisk penal colony No. 2: 213800, 1 Sikorsky Street, Babruisk, Mahiliou Region, PK No. 2
On february 6, 2012, a training “New Media and Civil Society” took place in Moscow. It was attended by 30 activists from NGOs in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. The training was held by Dmitry Makarov and Maria Gordeeva.
Unlike traditional, new media doesn't have a barrier between the author of the subject, information and a recipient. The instantaneous distribution of information, drawing large attention to the topic, no censorship, influence, interactivity, the tendency of using new Internet resources ― all of the above are distinctive features of the modern media space, which all civil rights activists need to explore. Many bloggers can already compete with mass media in audience coverege.
The expert Igor Sazhin showed how his local organization in Republic of Komi uses the blogosphere and how it affects the decision making of local authorities. The representative of popular website “Grani.ru” Veniamin Dmitroshkin taught a master class on creating video concerning civil subjects and showed how to attract the attention of users.
Comments of the participants:
Violetta, Voronezh: “The training gave an opportunity not only to learn new methods of work in modern media, such as making videos, but also to pay more attention to the instruments that we already know but underestimated their importance in relation to our work with civil society. For example, monitoring regional forums which are still very popular.”
Daria, Kharkov: “It was a surprise to learn that all these media can be used to defend human rights; and even more surprise that governmental authorities read blogs of the activists. New information gives an incentive to think about new prospects in defending human rights.”
Nastya, Minsk: “It was very useful because it is deeply connected with practice. People talked about their experience, so it is clear what is better to use. I was also very glad that we had an opportunity to share our experience with each other. It would be great to add homework to the master class on creating video, so that we could practice, and the experts would comment on our work.”
The organizers of the event - Moscow Helsinki Group and International Youth Human Rights Movement - set a course to create permanent educational platform aimed at promotion of new technologies in NGOs activities.
Moscow Helsinki Group
From January, 29 to February, 5 Moscow Helsinki Group and Youth Human Rights Movement organized a universal seminar on human rights in Moscow.
This time there were presented 30 participants from Murmansk to Grozny and Nazran, from Vilnius to Omsk. Throughout the whole meeting the coaches and human rights activists Adrey Yurov, Igor Sazhin, Dmitry Makarov, Maria Gordeeva and Victoria Gromova talked about basic human rights, international mechanisms of defending human rights, human integrity, public advocacy, basics of fundraising. Most of the topics in question would be impossible to pass as efficiently as through this kind of training.
The great advantage of this school is that participants learned not only to listen but also to hear each other and their coaches and to live through all the words and real life situations when the group itself had to decide how to comply with the rules of communication within and outside the group.
In every society, even in the healthiest one, there will always be confrontation between citizens (individuals) and the government, between different social groups. Usually, it comes as a result of escalation of social problems. Social - means that this problem has a significant importance to a large part of society. As a rule, this problem is connected with the violation of human rights and authorities’ nonfeasance in relation to a large number of people. And if the problem is considerably critical one has to be civically active. In other words, to engage in public advocacy. The main goal is to repeal malfunctioning laws or, if the law is effective but ill executed, to change the poor functioning of governmental agencies.
Lyudmila Alekseeva, chairperson of Moscow Helsinki Group, also visited the School. She talked about the birth of the human rights movement in the Soviet Union and how she sees Russia now.
The School was supported by the “Open Society Foundation”.
This miracle happened at the end of World War II, January 27th 1945: the Red Army freed Auschwitz-Birkenau, the death camp on the territory of present-day Poland. Decades later, on january 26th 2012 Eva Minni Schloss, who was set free in 1945 at that exact date, met with the soldiers-liberators in the Memorial Synagogue on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow.
In 2005 the UN General Assembly designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, but in Russia, the successor of the USSR, this day is not honored at the national level so far.
For many years, most ceremonial events are held in the Memorial Synagogue by the Centre “Holocaust” and its partners who advocate for the establishment in Russia of a National Remembrance Day of Holocaust victims and soldiers-liberators. This year the ceremonial events included the opening of the exhibitions “Anne Frank. History lesson” and “Drawings of pupils and students ― participants of the contest of works on the Holocaust”, an awards ceremony for the winners of International Contest of works about Holocaust, speeches of ambassadors of Israel, Germany, a congressman from the USA, a representative of the Council of Europe, Tamara Gverdtsiteli, Gypsy ensemble and others. But the most important was a meeting of Eva Schloss with three veterans who gave freedom and new life to the prisoners of the camp 67 years ago.
“Desire to live kept me going”
Eva Geiringer was born in Austria, Anne Frank ― in Germany in 1929. Their families immigrated to Netherlands saving themselves from manhunt of Nazis. They lived on the Merwedeplein square opposite each other. In 1940, Germans occupied Netherlands, too; in 1942, the two girls and their families hided in shelters. In 1944, both families were betrayed, and the Nazis sent them to death camps.
The only one survived from the Frank family was Otto. People who had seen Anne in the camp stated that the girl lost hope and strength to fight.
Of all the Geiringer family, only Eva and her mother Frizi survived. Eva confessed that “a desire to live kept her going.”
They were evacuated to Chernovtsy because the war was still going on; in June 1945 they came back to Amsterdam.
After the war Eva learned history of arts in the University of Amsterdam. In 1951, she moved to London to study photography. In 1952, she got married to Zvi Schloss. In 1953, her mother married Otto Frank.
Zvi and Eva live in London; they have three daughters and five grandchildren.
On January 27th RIA-Novosti held a press conference with Eva Schloss. According to her, after the war the world kept asserting: “Never again, never again”, but the events kept repeating themselves. Since 1985 Eva is an active enlightener: she wrote an autobiography “Eva’s Story”, she participates in the meetings at universities, schools, churches, “so that hatred, enmity and different kinds of xenophobia will never be a part of modern world.”
She recieved an honorary doctorte of Civil Law in the University of Northumbria, Newcastle, England. She is a founding trustee of the Anne Frank Educational Trust, UK, she actively participates in the work with teenagers connected with subjects of teaching on Holocaust, human rights, identity and tolerance.
In 1988, the story of Eva was published (“Eva’s Story”) and, together with “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank (originally published under the name “Shelter”), it became one of the most known evidence of Holocaust in the USA and Europe. “In the book, Eva honestly describes her fear of soviet soldiers ― what if they try to rape or torture? And with the same honesty she thanks them for these fears to be in vain and for the given freedom”, ― says the representative of the Anne Frank House (Amsterdam) Sergei Kulchevich who accompanied Eva and her daughter Jacqueline Hovelsen from London to Moscow and back.
In 1995, an educational play “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank” was created in cooperation with the playwright James Still. It is about the lives of four teenagers during the Holocaust. Performances were held in the USA, Great Britain, Europe, Australia and also in Russian Embassy in London on December 12th 2011.
In 2005, Eva and Barbara Povers, professor from Michigan, co-wrote a book “Promise” in which Eva described her brother and father with the loss of whom she still cannot cope.
Another “History Lesson”
On January 23-24th, the team of YHRM trainers held a seminar to teach school pupils to be guides in exhibition “Anne Frank. History Lesson”. “For me, this exhibition is an opportunity to talk about current problems related to human rights violations of certain minorities - people who, during the Nazi times like Anne Frank, like Eva Schloss and many millions of Jewish people, Gypsies, homosexuals, political opponents, had a hard time of the omnipotence of majority”, ― told to the young guides Anastasia Denisova, the trainer.
We are appealing to all the parties interested in the peace and security in this region of Moldova to endorse the following urgent actions:
- We request the urgent replacement of the current peacekeeping mission, which exists in a military format and which falls short of the UN peacekeeping standards, with a genuinely civil mission under an international mandate;
- We request that Russia unconditionally fulfills all the commitments under the 1999 OSCE Summit in Istanbul, in particular those concerning the full and orderly withdrawal of troops and military stockpiles from this region of Moldova;
- We request the strict observance of all the provisions of the 1992 Moldova-Russia Ceasefire Agreement, in particular of Art.5 on the freedom of movement of people, goods and services within the territory of Moldova;
- We request an investigation, which is thorough, transparent and with international involvement, into the circumstances and causes that led to the death of Vadim Pisari, and which should establish to what extent the actions of the peacekeeping officer were appropriate for the situation and consistent with his mission;
We are further calling on all media organizations to correctly and impartially report on the developments in the wake of the fatal incident that occurred on 1 January 2012.
Chisinau, January 16, 2012
Between 27 and 30 November in Voronezh took place international conference titled “The development of international civil initiatives against racism and violence in Russia and Russian-speaking countries”. More than 60 people from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, South Ossetia, Lithuanian, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Turkey and Scythia participated in conference.
We need new utopias, which would give us at least a chance to dream.
Daniel Goretsky, Andrey Yurov
"Theses on freedom"
Not only don’t you like these outrageous actions of the fascists, fundamentalists, radical nationalists, militarists, supporters of the "firm hand" - but you also think that our world was created for something completely different?
Although sometimes you think there is too much pathos in the appeals for justice, "freedom, equality and fraternity", "world peace", something deep inside you makes you think “if these appeals are feasible after all?”
You tried to find an ideal world in many books and movies, the world that you would build if people were really ready for this, but you usually came across anti-utopias like "1984", "We" and "The Matrix", which, surprisingly enough seem more realistic version of the forthcoming future?
We are convinced that the problem of modern society – is not the strengthening position of the neo-fascists and the populists whose plans are to impose on the society the archaic, inhumane and totalitarian order. So far these people are the minority that is outside the law.
The problem – is that we have forgotten how to doubt and dream. That is not mere dreaming, drawing idyllic pictures of the bright future in colored chalk on the pavement, not swearing allegiance to the ideals of previous generations, but considering your biography and social destiny as something that is not predestined, something that depends on your efforts and co-creation of like-minded people. Those who refuse to despair and give up, who have enough faith and strength to look for alternatives and to build experimental social space from scratch, who feel up to be funny and audacious amidst common apathy and cowardice - we invite YOU to take part in the campaign " Crystal night - never again" and to be with us "In Search of Utopia".
Let's dream together!
To dream - does not mean to deny the reality of this world, studying, working and loving.
To dream - means to work every day for alternative future, for without dreams this alternative future has no chance of becoming reality.
To dream – does not mean to think several steps ahead and deeper, farther and wider than your destiny. It means to constantly ask yourself and others more and more questions, to doubt the correctness of answers, in particular, easy answers, because the world is still very difficult.
Who are we - modern utopians/antifascist/humanists/activists?
For years we’ve been trying to counteract the deep demonstrations of human nature: xenophobia and the rejection of otherness, totalitarian thinking and the cult of force and aggression, fascism and the ideologies of hatred - both inside and around ourselves. But we can not get out of the fundamentalist discourse "friend or foe," "white or black," "simple or complex" if we just fight it.
What kind of a utopia are we building? Are we indeed building it? How do we see the world in 10 years? Are we ready to take responsibility for the results obtained? What alternative can we offer against numerous anti-utopias - a collective one or, perhaps, purely personal one, but perfectly fitting into the creation processes in this world?
We do not know the right answers, but we go on seeking, because we are tired of endless fixing how the world, confidence, solidarity, faith in humanity are collapsing year by year in Europe and overseas.
This year the purpose of the campaign is to understand what happened to the collective imagination and utopias, which inspired humanity in recent decades.
We suggest filling our actions and spaces that surround us with our utopias, dreams, and that which we hold very dear. It is important to show other people that the world may be arranged differently, there are endless alternatives to the existing one. It is important to invite other people, us and you to co-creation.
What can we do together?
"Cooperation of NGOs, educational institutions, libraries and educational authorities in the field of preventing xenophobia among youth", Moscow (Russia), 8 November 2011, 14-00 – 17-00 in Conference Hall (International Memorial House/Karetni Ryad 5/10)
From 26 September to 7 October, the Annual Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on human dimension took place in Warsaw (Poland). The event was attended by the representatives of the OSCE member states, international experts, human rights defenders and NGOs activists.
The issues related to human rights and democracy are considered by the OSCE in the context of the human dimension, which is the basis of modern security along with military and political, economic and environmental dimensions. Meetings in Warsaw allow representatives of civil society and official delegations of the member-states to exchange views and to assess together how the states fulfill their liabilities.
It is not the first year when the representatives of the Youth Human Rights Movement take an active part in the meetings of the OSCE in Warsaw. As usual, they pay particular attention to the sessions which consider the issues of fundamental human rights: freedom of peaceful assembly and association and protection of human rights defenders. This year the presentation of two new ODIHR tools became a part of the Conference - guidelines on monitoring freedom of peaceful assembly and on-line guide on the standards of freedom of association. The editors particularly noted that the representatives of the YHRM, along with several other NGOs, have made a significant contribution to editing of these guides.
Viktoria Gromova and Dmitry Makarov, members of the Coordinating Council of the YHRM, and Andrey Yurov, honorary president of the YHRM, spoke also in the sessions devoted to freedom of movement. Apart from the various countries’ practice of making lists of foreigners who are banned entry (Viktoria and Andrey, the citizens of Russia, were denied entry into the Republic of Belarus this spring because they were put in such lists), the human rights defenders also raised the problem of making "blacklists" of civic activists within the country. This allows law enforcement agencies to prevent the movement of citizens in the territory of their own country (including removing them from trains and planes). According to the YHRM members, the OSCE can and should play a leading role in the development of standards of freedom of movement in its member states, which would rule out the possibility of such wrongful limitations.
In addition to the speeches at the official sessions of the meeting, the YHRM representatives held several working meetings with the officers of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the official delegations (including the USA, Lithuania and Ireland); they also participated in several side events.
One of these meetings has been co-organized with Frontline, the Human Rights House Foundation and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH/OMCT). It was devoted to the protection of human rights defenders in the OSCE region (in particular, Russia, South Caucasus, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan). Dmitry Makarov announced recommendations on this topic, which were outlined by the YHRM, including the need for guiding principals for the OSCE member-states in the field of the protection of human rights defenders and the establishment of a special OSCE institute for the protection of human rights defenders with a mandate similar to the existing mandate of the Representative on Freedom of the Media. He also spoke about the work of the Urgent Response Center (URC), which was established at the end of last year in Russia, as one of the possible mechanisms of protection.
The YHRM, as a member of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus, has been involved in a side event that presented the results of 9 months’ work of the Committee.
A side event devoted to the prospects of involvement of NGOs in the OSCE activities has become a significant moment of the conference. Most of the speakers touched upon various possibilities for NGOs to participate in the OSCE events, including the priorities of the 2012 Irish Presidency and the plans to hold a side conference of civil society, timed to the meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in early December in Vilnius. In conclusion Andrey Yurov presented a more radical position of civil society organizations in relation to the current state of affairs in the OSCE. He reminded that a year ago at the meeting of the International Civic Initiative for the OSCE (ICI OSCE), the participants announced that the OSCE was in crisis, they gave it three years to reform - if nothing would change, the organization has to be dismissed. A striking example of the OSCE inefficiency was its inability to influence the situation in Kazakhstan, Belarus and other countries where the organization is rather an instrument of legitimization of dictatorial regimes. The OSCE allows the representatives of these countries to come to the official events and allege that they meet all obligations on human rights. At the same time, the OSCE does not have real mechanisms to change these situations. According to Andrey Yurov, among other ways, there are several mechanisms of modernizing the organization: the rejection of the "cold war" principle of consensus in decision making, as well as more active involvement of NGOs in the discussion of the OSCE work on three "dimensions" ( not only human dimension). The remaining two years will show whether the organization manages to reform or not.