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

Mark Twain


Youth Human Rights Movement

Conference in Moscow. Reflection on the past. Work at present. Dreams about the future

Дата публикации: 

On 18-21 of October Youth Human Rights Movement (YHRM) and UNITED for Intercultural Action organized in Moscow an international conference titled “Reflection on the past. Work at present. Dreams about the future: Developing ideas of Human Rights, humanitarian and antiracist initiatives”. A conference was part of the project “Civil organizations serving society: youth actions against racism, nationalism and xenophobia and for Human Rights and inter-cultural dialogue” supported in the framework of the MATRA program run by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the conference there were also separated events carried with help of participants of “The coalition for defending fundamental freedoms in Euroasia”.

More than 70 people from various countries and cities arrived in order to discuss on the past, present and the future of antiracist movement. In every discussion participants of various types of projects shared their failures and achievements and made their plans for the future. The main train of thought in a conference was solidarity because, after all, talking about the future one cannot ignore all those external challenges we face today. That’s why it is so important to develop mechanisms of solidarity and mutual supporting which will enable to continue our movement.

Antje Grebner, political scientist, lecturer from Hague: "I came here because I was interested in how one can combine formal and informal education, nevertheless I performed as a representative of formal education. I liked conference a lot, I saw many interesting discussions and interesting people who, surprisingly, didn’t know each other so a conference made it possible to work together"".

Traditionally, the official part of the conference started from the YHRM presentation, as an organization which is the main patner and co-organizer of the conference UNITED for Intercultural Action and the whole project itself. Anastasia Nikitina, project coordinator, told about the results of 3 years work and united, for participants, different kind of elements of the project in order to show people participated in various events and people implemented various actions that they mutually depend on themselves. The amount of work that has been done seems astonishing - until now more than 500 organizations appeared in the address book of UNITED, more than 25 cities participated in international campaigns and more than 600 people took part in different seminars. A full project presentation you can see here:

3 working days were divided according to conception of “Human integrity” and “time ruler”. During plenary sessions in the first place there were discussed issues of racism and discrimination, and in contrast, counteracting their development. Secondly, militarism, and in contrast, non-violence and peace culture. In the last day - totalitarian mentality, and in contrast, freedom.

In the work group it was decided to divide discussion as it follows: what was, what is and what will be.

During the debate about education in the sphere of non-racism, where moderators were Beate Flechtker and Maria Gordeeva, were reached a conclusions about which challenges and which possibilities informal education brings.

When we'd summed up lots of our long standing campaigns against racism and fascism we reached a conclusion that, at the moment, we have many cool educational products, lots of leaflets, bookmarks, stickers, flyers, brochures. However in the context of attracting people to campaigns the number of all those products was tragically small. So we invented new messages and new forms of future campaigns, - commented Alexander Drook.

Konstantin Baranov and Dmitri Makarov told about legal and civil methods of struggle against racism, on the other side expert from Netherlands Camelia Nistor told about work of the Council of Europe and what would be improved there.

In the framework of the conference there was also organized a round table where experts discussed on current situation regarding antifascist movement in Russia and Europe.

In the evening, during “Initiatives' fair” there were presented projects like “Human library”, “Comics from various countries, for respect and tolerance”, “Baustein as  an antiracist education textbook”, “Anti-cliché”, different kind of initiatives of Humanitarian youth movement in Murmansk and also methods of the Anna Frank House. Walking through one room to another participants could see the most significant results and data collection regarding those initiatives.

The project “Human library” was introduced by one of its founder - Dane Ronni Abergel who told a story about project appearing, basic rules of work and how was the first “library”. Organizers of “Human library” from Samara, Voronezh, Perm and Moscow were happy to share with project founder their experience and difficulties they struggled with during organization of events. Ronni said that some problems are characteristic only for Russia and in 20 years of existence some obstacles have appeared for the first time. Organizers from Russia decided to create all-Russian Human Library net supported by international project “Human Library”.

Andrei Yurov during his performance titled “Do we need us?”, as always, gave more questions than answers: “I believe that the subject of counteracting totalitarianism and subject of freedom are the most important for post-soviet area and I am sure that until now we haven’t digested Stalinism (…) We haven’t become aware of it so the question is not about whether history teaches something, the question is about reflection, if there is no we will be tread on our favorite rake all the time as long as we won’t realize why we do this, what is the problem. And you see, this children’s experience of Stalinism we haven’t digested brings about that we cannot become adults, so we will always be children and slaves. That’s why I believe the most important thing is intellectual counteracting that occurrence which takes place in many post-soviet countries and it requires not one but maybe the whole series of campaigns dedicated to anti-totalitarianism and anti-Stalinism (…) We should seriously think about what we should do in the area of development of intellectual freedom, in the area of development of Socratic thinking, in the area of development of critical thinking about absolutely everything. What we should do in the educational sphere? In the sphere of big social campaigns, in the sphere of private life?”.

Organizers of the conference also invited Valentin Gefter, director of Human Rights Institute who during discussion on freedom and responsibility for future, talking about counteracting of totalitarianism said emphatically: “Sometimes it is called by words ‘peaceful civil counteracting’, sometimes it is escape into private life, complete distancing himself or herself from a state. However there are people of my type who get used to social activism who cannot resign from defending other people. Everyone, in some way is a slave of his way… I am sure only about one thing, there is no one global idea, there cannot be one total resistance to legacy of totalitarianism. There can be only various types of them. I am very afraid of new universal recipes. Huge companies, huge battalions, everything what, in the first place, is kind of connected with that we want to fight with. However to develop separately, do not meet together, do not discuss, do not think, it is, in my opinion, also impossible, and after all it’s necessary to act”.

During the conference took place no less interesting and important sessions, discussions and meetings, there were no less interesting and important experts and participants. Unfortunately, to tell about everything and everybody seems to be impossible.