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Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority It is time to sit back and reflect.
In the last years there appeared a great deal of approaches, methods and ideas in respond to xenophobia and discrimination, the rise of nationalism, and failure of multiculturalism ideology that present different views on how to oppose these challenges. All these ideas are based on different understandings of the world and social and educational work. Very often they are developed in closed teams, separate organizations and are practiced independently.
We believe it is important to be aware of all sorts of different methods and approaches to bring about systematic social changes. That would help us to look from different perspectives on what we/others do and give us ideas what methods we could use or what we need to develop, change or improve. Moreover, communication with the people who share our ideas always stimulates development and gives us the strength that we need.
But besides the actual methods it is also important to discuss the urgent challenges of the modern world to better understand the social context that we work in, give adequate ideas and solutions to civil organizations, authorities, educational institutions and people who are not experts but who want to make a difference and influence the situation.
To discuss all these questions we, the International Youth Human Rights Movement and the European Network UNITED for Intercultural Action under the joint support of our partners, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Human Rights House (Voronezh) organise the international conference “Development of international civil initiatives against racism and violence in Russia and Russian-speaking countries” in Voronezh, 27-30 November 2011.
We would be delighted to see among the conference participants:
- representatives of civil, youth and human rights organizations that deal with racism, discrimination and hate crimes,
- young teachers and representatives of educational departments and youth agencies, student activists and active schoolchildren,
- representatives of the groups that stand for minorities’ rights and interests
- представителей групп, которые защищают права и интересы меньшинств
- and other people who are not indifferent and who are interested in the discussion of the general agenda in this sphere, for authorities and the educational/humanitarian community.
The conference programme depends to a large extent on the participants and will include a number of open discussions, working groups, master-classes and experts’ talks. That’s why when you fill in the application form, please, indicate what you can contribute to the content of the conference.
Various educational initiatives and working groups will be presented within the following sections:
- Peace-making projects and initiatives – we believe that human integrity is bound up with the practices against militaristic ideology. We will present in this block the future and past peace-building initiatives and discuss what we can do in this field in Russian-speaking countries.
- Nonracial education for adults – Baustein – an educational concept of how to deal with racism in various communities was translated and published by the YHRM in Russian this year. Living Library is an unusual library where real people replace books and are ready to answer any questions of the “readers”. It gives us an opportunity to learn more about the people who are around us.
- Educational actions for young people – by giving an example of the Anna Frank House travelling exhibition and educational projects of UNITED and the Youth network against racism and intolerance.
- International campaigns and solidarity between activists - by giving examples of the European campaign “Reclaim Solidarity” and Polish “Coalition 11 November” and others.
- Educational art projects - by giving an example of the comics project “Respect”.
The experts from the European network UNITED for Intercultural Action, International Youth Human Rights Movement, Youth network against racism and intolerance, Moscow Helsinki Group, Anna Frank House (the Netherlands), “Living Library”, comics festival “ComMission” and others will be among the participants of the conference.
How to take part in the conference:
Unfortunately, we cannot invite everyone, so the participants will be selected on a competitive basis.
The organizers can
- reimburse travel expenses for the Russian participants travelling by the most economical means of transport and also partially reimburse the costs of the participants from Ukraine and Belarus;
- provide meals and accommodation to all the participants during the conference.
The priority will be given to:
A second study visit to the Netherlands on anti-racism and anti-fascism finished last week. The organizers of this tour for the young Russian activists were the European Network Against Racism (UNITED for Intercultural Action), the International Youth Human Rights Movement (YHRM) and the Youth Network against Racism and Intolerance (YNRI).
On September 25, the 5th session of the International Students School of Human Rights/Student Rights took place in Kyiv. Traditionally, the school is held for two days, the first of which is devoted to introducing the concept of Human Rights and advocacy, and the second – to Student Rights and searching solutions to the problems relating to students as a social group.
This time, the event was mostly attended by the experienced activists and participants of other educational programs from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia; so the seminar lasted only one day and was mainly devoted to student issues. Apart from the traditional discussion of pressing daily living needs of students (problems with the dormitory, scholarship or travel benefits), the participants talked about the education system in general, its objectives and system errors; why society needs higher education, as well as why we come to our universities and who, in fact, we become after 4-5-6 years at the University.
The events, which stirred up Kyiv the day before, might well have affected the atmosphere of the workshop: the Forum of European Education ministers and the opposing counter-forum “The other side of education”, which gathered the young people with a different view on the system of higher education. Or the beginning of the year might have caused philosophical thought “why do we need it all?” Or, which is also possible, it could be the gradually growing need not only to think about particular problems and side effects of the existing education system, but also to put the question point-blank: “What and why should we do with our universities today, so that our society would have chances for the future?”
Another issue that arose repeatedly during the School, was the discussion of the problem who actually should be concerned with Students Rights, e.g. the right to quality education; and what quality education is: a guarantee of a well-paid job or an ability to think critically and create new breakthrough ideas and projects; who determines the criteria of the education and who is capable to monitor the implementation of the right to education. This discussion has again returned the participants of the workshop to the thought that the problems of students and universities are not only their problems, but also the problems of the entire society; and the protection of Student Rights during years of education is a good start for a conscious assertion of all human rights.
Over 100 human rights defenders from almost 90 countries have once again met in Dublin (Ireland) at the Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders, which took place from 14 to 16 September. FRONTLINE organizes the Dublin Platform every two years, allowing human rights defenders to meet each other, to share their experience and ideas, and to discuss with each other and with representatives of governmental and intergovernmental organizations the problems of their countries and regions.
This year, a lot of attention was paid to the issues and problems of the OSCE area and the activities of organizations in this region. A speech of Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland (which will hold the chairmanship of the OSCE next year), became an important event of the platform. In his speech, Eamon Gilmore stressed that Ireland, as a country that actively promotes the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, is going to pay attention to this issue during its upcoming chairmanship in the OSCE in 2012.
Before delivering speech, Gilmore was handed a letter from the organizations of the Platform. The letter contains recommendations for the upcoming Irish chairmanship of the OSCE and urges to promote dialogue with NGOs, as well as to pay attention to protection of human rights defenders and to work out standards and obligations in this area. In his speech, the Minister directly appealed to the NGOs: "We want to expand the role of the OSCE, and we will work to meet your expectations on our chairmanship."
Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association also attended the Platform. In his speech he touched upon the problems of the OSCE region, in particular, the Republic of Belarus. The Special Rapporteur has also demonstrated an openness to dialogue and addressed the audience with the following words: "Human rights defenders are agents of change. Please, send me all the information about violations that you have. Use me as your mouthpiece!"
In addition to the official Platform events, an informal meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ireland took place in Dublin. The participants of the conference discussed issues of cooperation between various regional NGOs and the upcoming chairmanship. The meeting was attended by the representatives of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus, particularly Dmitry Makarov, a member of the Coordination Council of the Youth Human Rights Movement. At the very Platform Dmitry moderated Russian-language section, which was focused on protection of human rights defenders in the post-Soviet space.
On September 10-12, 2011 the World Assembly "Civil society and global issues: improving situation" took place in Montreal (Canada). It is annually held under the aegis of CIVICUS – the World Alliance for Citizen Participation. There were several subject lines that grouped around all sessions of the Assembly: "Civil society and democratic space", "Connections between people via technology", "Development effectiveness" and "Climate justice".
The event was attended by several hundred civic activists from all continents. Konstantin Baranov, the Program Coordinator at International Youth Human Rights Movement, took active part in the Assembly. He was invited to the event primarily as a representative of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus.
Along with the representatives of other countries, where there is a crisis situation in the field of human rights, Konstantin spoke to one of the plenary sessions with a brief report on the situation with human rights in Belarus. Difficult as it is, the situation deteriorated even more after the presidential elections of December 19, 2010, in particular, the pressure from the government on human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists has become systematic. In response to the worsening situation more than 40 non-governmental organizations and groups of countries in the OSCE region established a coalition - the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus. Konstantin talked briefly on the work of the Committee and its organs, and also drew the attention of the Assembly at one of the recent cases of persecution of human rights defenders in Belarus - the arrest of the President of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" Ales Bialatski on charges of nonpayment of taxes on grants, which stipulates up to 7 years in prison. CIVICUS initiated signing a petition by the Assembly calling to release Ales Bialatski.
Within the workshop "Building a network cooperation in hostile political situations", Konstantin talked about the experience of the Youth Human Rights Movement, which emerged and develops as an international network; YHRM also gives priority to supporting and developing other networks and communities in the NIS region, such as civic engagement network "Eurasia IDEA» and the International Civil Initiative for the OSCE (ICI OSCE). The human rights activist emphasized the importance of network cooperation between civil society organizations and activists at the regional level (not only at the national and global levels) and outlined the main benefits and problems of creating such networks.
On September 12, the regional meeting of NGOs took place in Montreal. An individual session for the participants form Europe and Eurasia was held within this meeting. The participants paid special attention to the problematic issues of the Eurasian region, outlining recommendations for the development of cooperation and solidarity, as well as opportunities for cooperation with international civic organizations, including human rights organizations in Europe.
At the final session of the Assembly Konstantin was also asked to summarize the discussions of the block "Civil society and democratic space". In his speech he stressed that the space for civil society shrinks around the world; and it requires new responses from activists, which should include the strengthening of the existing international mechanisms and creation of new ones, consolidation and mutual support, broader involvement of the public and the use of new technologies.
"Unfortunately, our region was poorly presented at the Assembly. I am convinced that the problems faced by human rights defenders and civic activists in the NIS deserve more attention of the world community. However, to achieve this, the representatives of civil society in our countries should be more concerned with the global agenda and cooperation on a broader international level, including participation in such events. I hope that the work in our region, which CIVICUS began several years ago as part of the network "Eurasia IDEA», will continue and it will help non-governmental organizations in the post-Soviet countries to better integrate into the global civil society "- says Konstantin Baranov.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a unique international document passed by the United Nations in 1948. It was created by experts from Australia, Canada, China, Lebanon, the USSR, France and other countries.
Declaration was the first global document which stated value of human life, human dignity, freedom, and equality. For the first time in history of mankind these ideals formed the basis for international laws.
Today there is a lot of international documents on Human Rights. However, people do not even know about them, or when they know, it is not easy for them to understand the legal language. That’s why we decided to tell the story about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights via the virtual museum.
The main idea is to introduce the Declaration itself, its history, perspectives, “silent plots” around it and other interesting facts to the young people. Now we start our work in Russia (for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) just due to capacity but we will be happy to have our Museum in as many languages as possible.
We want people to see the Declaration as a living document, faces of its creators and people who were inspired by Declaration in their way to promote and protect universal Human Rights.
Creation of the Museum is an initiative of two international NGOs - International Youth Human Rights Movement (YHRM) and International Historical-Enlightenment Human Rights and Humanitarian Society “Memorial”.
The project is supported by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia, the office of the Ombudsman in Russian Federation and Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future”.
If you are interested in taking part anf bringing your thoughts and energy to the creation of the Museum what would you like to do?
Now the team of the Museum needs the following help:
- translation of the texts (memoirs and documents) from English, German and other languages to Russian;
- revision of the Museum site (design, programming, ideas of virtual excursions);
- research on the history of Universal Declaration in your country and others;
- search for the materials describing the History of UDHR and macing them an object of Museum;
- interviewing of people who worked to spread the UDHR when it was prohoboted in certain countries and also those participated in actions devoted to the UDHR; of those who spreade the texts of Universal Declaration when their actions were not improved by the government, and participated in actions devoted to Universal Declaration.
And of course, if you are intrerested in translation of the whole Museum to your languages, we will be happy to invite you to cooperation.
Also you can think of your own way to help the Museum and share it with us. We appreciate any assistance and cooperation with us.
On 15th of August the first training “Non- racism like a principal of non-formal education”, based on methods of German handbook for non-racism education, finished in Voronezh. More over it was the first not only in Russia, but in all field of CIS. This meeting was organized from 13th to 15th August by the International Youth Human Rights Movement and the Human Rights House- Voronezh in cooperation with the authors of handbook Baustein zur nicht-rassistischen Bildungsarbeit (Германия) with support of the European network UNITED for Intercultural Action.
The main aim of the training was a meeting with approaches of the “Baustein” authors to a theme of racism and discrimination, and practicing a technique, which was worked out by them on the base of German experience of counter to this phenomenon. Themes offered by organizers were very interesting for activists of different youth organizations, teachers and researchers from different cities of Russia and although Ukraine and Belarus.
The “Baustein” authors use in their work some practices and approaches which could be seem like innovative for Russian language area. For example, they think that the most effective work on counteraction to racism and discrimination throw education is a talk about inadmissibility of racism to educational meetings on others themes like labor rights, students and women rights and so on. In addition, among quite habitual for us analysis of stereotypes and prejudices authors of German conception also use concepts like “global conspiracy” and Utopia. As it is said in a description of the“Baustein” benefits “You could not only imagine the world in another way but also create”. The question is what kind of the world we choose for us - the world with global conspiracy and finger-pointing in our troubles or when all of us are responsible to it.
The discussion on a question about possibility of using “Baustein” methods in post-soviet area was very hot. The authors do not hide that this conception and methods worked out only on German social experience. The question is what is working and what is not in our countries is still open for participants.
Representatives of the program MATRA of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands visited the training with welcome address. Adviser to the political department of the Embassy Mr. Adriaan Palm in his speech stressed an importance of enlightenment and education work in the sphere of counteraction to racism and xenophobia particular in Russia because during last months this problem has tendency to exacerbate. With all of this, representatives of the European countries – Germany and Netherlands - are able and ready to share their experience, but certainly work and solve this problem could only citizens, who think about the future of their country.
The reason of visit of MATRA representatives is that this training was organized in framework of a project “Civil organisations serving society: youth actions against racism, nationalism and xenophobia and for Human Rights and inter-cultural dialogue”.
“Baustein” is a unique handbook which is about education on topics: modern racism, migration in Europe, nationalism and patriotism, gender questions and so on. It include introductive and more professional texts on this problems, exercises and methods, handouts recommendations for seminars and so on. “Baustein” was firstly published in 2003, first of all to help German trade unions, but later it was used by schools, social organizations, educational centers and so on. You can find this handbook in German here - http://www.baustein.dgb-bwt.de (in Russian – at the web-site http://www.baustein.yhrm.org).
+7 473- 254-55-29
The IV Summer Human Rights School, which was organized by the Moscow Helsinki Group and the International Youth Human Rights Movement from 3rd to 10th of July in Moscow, finished at last week. The School brought together human rights defenders and civil activists, volunteers and experienced NGO’s workers and those, who work in human rights state institutes.
Participants of the School came from different cities of Russia: from Kaliningrad to Sakhalin - and all over post-soviet area. In a trainer teem were Andrey Yurov, the head of the School, Igor Sazhin, trainer and chief methodologist, the head of Komy Human Rights Commission of “Memorial”, Nina Tagankina, the main expert of the School, executive director of Moscow Helsinki Group, experts of Ryazan Human Rights School Sophia Ivanova and Alexandr Bekhtold.
The main blocks were about postulates of Human Rights theory, mechanisms of its defense, action technology to protection of public interests and key aspects of Human Rights defense. During some sessions participants learned Conception of Human Integrity, anti-discrimination methods, xenophobia and racism especially in education.
On the 11th of July YHRM participants Dmitry Makarov and Anna Dobrovolskaya held seminar about new ways of using different media tools for Human Rights and civil interests protection. Moreover examples of successful using of new media in Human Rights protection were presented.
The presentation of organizations, which members were delegated to School, took an important place. There were legal clinics, Committee of Soldiers Mothers, Memorial Human Rights Center, Humanist Youth Movement, LGBT organization “Vykhod” (Coming out), “Man and Law”, Committee against torture, “Foundation of regional initiatives” and some others. Besides, workers of regional ombudsman institute and agents of the Federal Penitentiary Service Office.
Something very interesting happened in early June in Moscow: YHRM participants and correspondents - initiators of new born Youth Network of civil journalism managed to came together and worked out a common vision of the network development.
From dozens of definitions of polysemantic termin of “civil journalism” Founding Fathers (Mothers) could made one, which reflect the content of creating community. All participants of meeting agreed with one point - that civil journalism for us is a journalism which is proving values of human rights and freedoms in the media field.
In creative way of thinking Youth Network of civil journalism should create common institutions for civil activists in the sphere of media. During the meeting were stressed some priority directions - working groups: a group on protection of free access to information, a group of solidarity with civil journalists who is under the pressure, an emergency response team on human rights violations, and, finally, educational group, which will prepare The School of Civil Journalism.
Besides education the Network is planning to create new and develop existing media projects. For example such publications of YHRM as “Open city” and “Right and dignity”. They are planning newsletter of the Network and human rights agency of information in Post Soviet area.
Network invites to participation bloggers and media activists, journalists and IT- specialists and all who want to see the field of media free and orient to protection of Human Rights and justice.
The Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting of OSCE took place in July 7-8 in Vienna. This meeting was about promoting of pluralism in new media. YHRM representatives from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine participated in it.
The feature of this kind of meetings is that official representatives of 56 OSCE members and observers sit at one table and speak on equal terms with NGO. This is a unique mechanism of participation in meetings and debates with states and civil society representatives.
This time a discussion about modern situation with freedom of the Internet and another Media in the field of OSCE was held.
Some problematic moments, which should become subject of obligations in framework of OSCE were noted. Among them questions of regulations access to content in context of minors protection and anonymous of access.
During discussion Yulia Khlashchenkova, YHRM participant and representative of the only officially registered nationwide Human Rights organization of Belarus - Belarus Helsinki Committee, made a statement about restriction of the Internet freedom in Belarus and pressure upon media activists from the side of state. First of all because of “silent actions” also named like “revolutions through social networks”.
Besides unlawful detentions members of this actions and journalists who covered the events, administrators appropriate groups in social networks are intimidated. KGB workers come to work or place of study of some of them. Some were took out from their homes for “talks” and their relatives didn’t know where they could be.
In her statement Yulia stressed that: “Evidently that this situation needs to be changed through systematic changes in state policy in the sphere of regulation of new media and the Internet and special attention from OSCE institutes, particular Representative on Freedom of the Media”.
Officials of Belarus didn’t react to this statement, but this information interested delegates of some countries. Rapporteurs also mentioned about the situation in Belarus in context of over- regulation of the Internet sphere from the side of Belarus officials.
Another YHRM participant Mikhail Kamenev, a member of nationwide youth organization of Ukraine “Foundation for regional initiative” in his speech pay attention to the Internet censorship in Ukraine, which controlled by the National expert commission on protection of social moral. Mikhail noted about contacts of commission with neo-Nazi youth organizations and presence of Deputy Chief of the Ukraine ultra-right party “Svoboda” (Freedom). This speech interested the Ukranian delegation.
Besides an official part, YHRM participants took part in a briefing of the Committee the International control on situation in Belarus “Human Right in Belarus: the 19th of December, 2010 and after” and in some other meetings.
Participation of YHRM members became possible due to support of Thomas Jefferson Institute.
On the 16th of June at 3 p.m. in the Soviet Court of Minsk (Belarus) decision on the case of Ales Krot, who challenged his expultion from the Belarusian National Technical University (BNTU), was accepted.
We remind that Ales Krot, activist of “Studentska Rada” (Student Council), despite of good academic results and absence of other formal reasons was expelled in February of this year from the second year of correspondence department of the Engineering Faculty of BNTU. On the eve the expulsion he had a talk with a dean, who said that “the problem is in your public activity”.
The hearing took place on the 1st of June, but in that time the representative of Ales, a member of trade union of radio electronic industry (profgroup “Studentska Rada”- structural unit of the union), was not allowed to enter the Court, that is why the claimant had asked to postpone the hearing.
The hearings took place on the 15th of June still. The Court reviewed the submissions of the case, heard both sides (there were 2 representatives from BNTU) and after hearing of arguments it was announced that the Court was closed. Announcement of decision was shifted to the 16th of June, 2 p.m.
Friends of Ales who attended and watched the process comment: “When you are sitting in the Court and you can see absurdity of the other side you have a hope that the decision will be in favor of the expelled student”. But despite the apparent inconsistency of the arguments of the opposite side, until the last moment there was no assurance that claims will be satisfied.
When everyone was ready to hear the announcement of the decision of the court, was announced that it will be at 3 p.m. There was some suspicions about this situation, however the Court decision was positive for Ales Krot: recognition of the order about his expulsion illegal and restoration as a 2-year student at the department Engineering Faculty of BNTU and reimbursement of costs.
So, the justice was restored after 4 month of campaigning and attempts to negotiate with the University administration in the Minsk district court.
By the words of witnesses, representatives of BNTU were surprised by this decision and asked to familiar with reasonable part. Likely, after a month we could get a letter with an appeal from the side of the University.
If after consideration of the appeal the Court supports the side of illegal expelled student, Ales Krot will “lost” a year and will be able to continue his education together with students of the second year at the correspondence department of Engineering Faculty of BNTU only in winter semester.
We would like to hope that it will be so. And Ales will continue to get higher education in next winter.
On 8th of June in the case of citizen of Congo Boris Desten Misamu, who was unlawfully expelled from the Moscow State University of Provision (MSUP), finally happened positive changes. We should remind, that in result of fight near the MSUP student hostel on 9 of May, 2010 Boris Desten was the only who got injured and was offended because of his skin color and was then expelled from the University.
The Committee “Civil assistance” made legal and social aid to Boris Desten and the Youth Network against Racism and Intolerance together with the International Network on Students Rights launched a solidarity campaign for him. In the framework of the campaign from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and others countries dozens of appeals were sent to the administration of the University and to law enforcement bodies with a call to investigate the situation and restore Boris Desten and prevent any discrimination from the side of the University.
The Moscow city Court considered the cassation on the decision of the Savelovsky district Court of Moscow from November 8, 2010 which says that Boris expulsion was a legal decision, and decided to review the case.
The Moscow city Court took this decision on the base that the University administration representatives couldn’t prove documented the legality of their decision. In particular, Rules regulations of the hostel which allegedly were violated by Boris and were the official reason of expulsion, were not provided to the court.
Within 10 days the district Court will get the decision of the Moscow city Court and should be review the case of foreign student, but in new combination.
Meanwhile, Boris was have to come back home because he have no more any money and any legal basis to stay in Russia.
“Due to decision of the Moscow city Court we're hopeful that in the near future justice to Boris Desten will be restored and the public campaign to protect the Congolese citizen will achieve the desired result. It’s important not only for restoration of Boris Desten rights but for the prevention of possible violations from the side of the University administration to another foreign students”, - comments the coordinator of the campaign Anastasia Denisova.
May 4, 2011, Minsk, Belarus. Human rights defenders from different OSCE countries were again detained in Minsk, in the office of “Viasna” Human Rights Center ahead of a press-conference where the Interim Report on events of 19th December, 2010 in Minsk, produced by the Special Rapporteur of Committee of International Control, was to be presented. Two representatives of the International Observation Mission were told to leave the country in 24 hours and are banned from entering Belarus for two years.
On 4th May officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus came to office of “Viasna” Human Rights Center, claiming they received a signal that some “strange boxes” had allegedly been brought to the office of “Viasna” and that explosives could be in the boxes. They locked the office from the inside and prevented anyone from leaving or entering it from the outside.
This was obviously an attempt of the Belarusian law enforcement agencies to block presentation of an independent report on the events of December 19, 2010 in Minsk, prepared by an independent expert group led by Dr. Neil Jarman, the Special Rapporteur of the Committee on International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus. The objective of the report is to provide impartial assessment of the events which took place in Minsk on December 19, 2010, including protest actions on Independence Square, violent dispersal of the crowd by the police and ensuing arrests and detentions, from the perspective of their compliance with international norms and national legislation of Belarus on freedom of peaceful assembly. Analysis of the process of the Presidential elections and its results were not in the mandate of the report.
No explosives were found during the search at “Viasna”. After that the law enforcement officers detained two members of the International Observation Mission of the Committee, Russian human rights activists Viktoria Gromova and Liubov Zakharova who were present in the office to prepare the press-conference, and took them to the Pervomaisky district police precinct for questioning. Other representatives of the Committee and journalists remained outside of the building. Yuri Dzhibladze, president of a Russian NGO, Center for Development of Democracy and Human Rights and a member of the Council on Civil Society and Human Rights with the President of the Russian Federation, and Volodymir Chemeris, head of Ukrainan “Respublica” institute, held an improvised press-conference outside of the building in front of “Viasna”, presenting the report to the journalists. Immediately after the presentation Yuri Dzhibladze and Volodymir Chemeris as well as two other Russian representatives of the Mission, Aleksander Mnatsakanyan and Irina Paikacheva were also detained and taken to the same police precinct. It was clear that the plain cloth KGB officers gave orders to the police and run this “special operation”.
After being held for three hours at the police and questioned about the goals of their presence in Belarus, all the detainees were let go. Two persons, Viktoria Gromova and Aleksander Mnatsakanyan, received a written order to leave the territory of Belarus in 24 hours, banning them from entering the country for two years on the grounds that their names were put on the list of people whose presence in Belarus was forbidden or unwanted. They were told that this was a matter of national security. All together there have been seven human rights defenders, representing the International Observation Mission from Russia and Ukraine who in the course of the last have been ordered to leave the country and banned from entering it. Origins of this “black list” and legal grounds for inclusion into the list remain unclear; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus has previously denied its existence.
Andrey Yurov, head of the International Observation Mission, director for strategic development of the Moscow Helsinki Group, commented on the situation: “Our Observation Mission had lots of hope because for this report, as it was absolutely obvious that it can hugely influence the whole situation and current action of authorities towards those put under trials because of “mass disorders” on the 19th of December.” “It is also obvious,” says Andrey, “that the meaning of the report has been understood well not only by journalists but also by Belarus authorities who tried to stop its presentation”.
The Committee of International Control over the Human Rights situation in Belarus will continue to present and distribute the Interim Report on the events of December 19 in Moscow, Warsaw, Brussels and other cities. The report can be found on the Committee's web-site at http://www.hrwatch-by.org/en/special-rapporteur.
We suggest you the Statement of the Steering Council of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus regarding violations by the Republic of Belarus of the OSCE commitments related to assistance to non-governmental organizations in monitoring conditions in the human dimension issued on 22nd of April, 2011 as a reaction on the several events.
The participating organizations of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus are concerned about the situation regarding representatives of the International Observation Mission, established under the auspices of the Committee. These concerns are especially relevant in light of recent invocation of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism with regard to Belarus and also in the light of statements of representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus containing claims that Belarus strictly observes all OSCE commitments in the human dimension.
On March 16, 2011 the Head of the International Observation Mission, citizen of the Russian Federation Andrey Yurov was detained by the police and taken to the police department of the Sovetsky district, where he spent the entire night. There was an attempt of a criminal charge of illegal border crossing to be brought against him. In the morning of March 17th, 2011, an order was issued to dismiss the criminal case with instructions for him to leave the territory of Belarus in the next 24 hours. Mr. Yurov was also notified that his name was included in the “List of persons whose entry into the Republic of Belarus is prohibited or undesirable” until 02/15/2013.
Earlier, on March 9th, 2011, the same situation occurred with regard to a Ukrainian human rights defender going to Belarus to work in the International Observation Mission, Maxim Kitsyuk.
Later, on April 20th, 2011 Marina Tsapok, the information assistant to the Representative of the International Observation Mission, citizen of the Ukraine, was detained while crossing the Ukranian-Belarussia border because of the fact that her name was found to have been included in the aforementioned list.
On the next day, on April 21st, one more Ukrainian human rights activist, Mikhail Kamenev, who also was traveling to the Mission, was denied entry to Belarus.
Human rights defenders Andrey Yurov, Maxim Kitsyuk, MarinaTsapok and Mikhail Kameniev, while being in the territory of Belarus, were acting openly and were monitoring the compliance of the Republic of Belarus with its international human rights commitments in accordance with the UN and OSCE standards on human rights activities.
In line with these commitments, reaffirmed at the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the OSCE participating States, held in Astana on December 1-2, 2010, human rights issues are the subject of direct and legitimate concern to all the OSCE participating States and international civil society and do not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the State concerned.
Such actions could be interpreted as directly impeding the International Observation Mission.
We consider that the actions taken by the Belarusian authorities in relation to human rights defenders demonstrate disregard of international OSCE commitments of the Republic of Belarus, in particular, these action are in direct contravention of the provisions of the 1991 OSCE Moscow Document (primarily in terms of paragraphs 43.2, 43.3).
We believe that the Republic of Belarus can demonstrate real commitment to the OSCE principles and obligations only if it takes the following actions:
- immediately lift the ban on entry of representatives of the International Observation Mission and provide assistance to the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus in monitoring human dimension conditions and verifying compliance of Belarus with relevant international obligations;
- remove active international human rights defenders, particularly representatives of the International Observation Mission Andrey Yurov, Maxim Kitsyuk, Marina Tsapok and Mihail Kameniev from the “List of persons whose entry into the Republic of Belarus is prohibited or undesirable";
- make a formal apology for detaining aforementioned human rights defenders and for the time they spent in places of detention.
We also encourage other civic organizations from the OSCE participating States, as well as international non-governmental organizations to join these demands and forward them to the authorities of the Republic of Belarus.
April 22nd, 2011
Her name is known to all who take interest in the problems of xenophobia and intolerance in Russia. For many years her analytics gave the anti-fascist movement in our country necessary support for its work and food for thought. But Galina's contribution to the fight against xenophobia and nationalism is not limited to her reports and other publications. She was a unique person who could be an unbiased and balanced researcher and have a clear and coherent civil and human rights position at the same time. She was fearless and tireless, she would have continued her work despite of open threats and in recent months in spite of severe illness. Since Galina was one of the few truly public figures of anti-fascist movement, she often had to be under fire from critics and sometimes tolerate the expressions of outright hatred, but she withstood it with honor up to the last.
For many of us, YHRM participants, Galina was not just a brilliant expert, but a mentor as well. She conducted seminars for young activists on monitoring xenophobia, reviewed articles and publications, never denied in giving her professional help and advice. She infected us with her dedication, energy and capacity for work. She was always somebody to emulate. She has always been and remains a moral authority and an example of real courage for us.
Today we mourn Galina and feel an irretrievable loss. But at the same time Galina’s pass makes us recall the words of Joseph Brodsky: “The best we can do for somebody better than us is to follow his lead”.
Irina Aksenova, Konstantin Baranov, Julia Bashinova, Anastasia Denisova, Lena Dudukina, Dmitri Makarov, Alexandra Nazarova, Anastasia Nikitina, Andrey Yurov, and many others who knew Galya and continue to be inspired by her example.
Farewell words of friends and colleagues:
This is how she will be remembered: