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

International Week of awareness-raising action "In Search of Utopia" (as part of the International Campaign "Crystal night - never again!", November 9-16)

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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?

• to learn and tell others about the utopias and those people who created utopias. This can be done with materials that will be specially prepared for this campaign. The organizers have chosen 10 names. They will be glad if you suggest other symbolic names and prepare the texts about them;
• to create your own utopia or anti-utopia. On 9 November, we begin the contest "The Coasts of Utopia: humanistic utopia in the 21st century", within which you can write an essay, create a collage or drawing, make a video and do something else that did not come to our mind, about utopias and anti-utopias - past and present, your own and somebody else’s. Besides this, you can become a regional coordinator of the competition in your region and help us find new participants;
• To conduct awareness-raising and educational campaigns. We will provide you with a selection of exercises for training (from the manual "Baustein");
• To draw up lists of materials, articles, books and movies on this topic and to supplement the existing ones, and also to show movies and hold discussions;
• We invite you to discuss this initiative, your thoughts about utopias and humanism, their place in modern society etc. in a LJ-community, VKontakte and Facebook;
• To continue the list!

You can join the existing events or you can organize your own event - and to tell us about it; so we can get to know you and your ideas and write about you.

Anyone who wishes (both individually and as a member of a community):
• may become one of the organizers of the campaign and become a regional coordinator of the campaign;
• may ask for support (informational, expert, consultative and any other, even most unexpected);
• Or to offer support to other participants.

To do this, write a letter to the address, preferably before 20th of October (it’s ok if later!).

The organizers of the campaign "Crystal night - never again!" promise to collect all information on individual and collective, awareness-rising and action non-violent public actions made by you in Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia or in the immense space of the Internet.

Looking forward to your feedback!
Alexander Drook, Valeria Savchenkova, Anastasia Nikitina, Vitus Media

Those who are already among the organizers of the campaign "Crystal night - never again":
• International Youth Network against Racism and Intolerance (YNRI);
• International Youth Network of human rights education and civic education (HRECE);
• International Youth Human Rights Movement (YHRM);
• European network UNITED for Intercultural Action;
• International Network "Young Europe"