ADC Memorial’s statement on Human Rights Day, December 10th, 2011

Statement of ADC Memorial on Human Rights Day, December 10th, 2011

Stop political persecutions of civil and human rights activists!

On December 10th, Human Rights Days is celebrated all over the world. Every year on this day the United Nations names an issue which should attract more attention during next year. In 2011 such an issue was protection of human rights activists fighting against discrimination.

How did countries of our region spend this “human rights” year? In December 2010, mass violations of human rights occurred in Belarus. After presidential elections mass protests were violently crushed down. Not only peaceful demonstrators and candidates for president were repressed: mass non-based arrests were a condition and background of persecutions of other opponents of Lukashenko’s regime – members of oppositional parties, youth movements, and anarchists. Persecutions also touched Belarusian human rights activists advocating for the rights of the arrested. The head of the human rights centre “Viasna” and vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights, Ales Beliatski, winner of many awards for his human rights activities, and nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, was arrested on false charge as a result of political provocation and in the end of 2011 was sentenced to 4,5 years in a colony of a strict regime and seizure of property. This happened in spite of numerous protests and huge campaign of solidarity all around the world.

In 2011, in Russia repressions against all kinds of complaint or critics towards the authorities were only strengthened. On November 25th, a few days after the verdict to Ales Beliatski, a series of one-person pickets were organised in St Petersburg at the office of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in order to show solidarity with Beliatski. The participants of the pickets were illegally arrested.

One year later after the Belarusian events, elections are hold in Russia, and again they happened to coincide with Human Rights Day. Peaceful protests in St Petersburg, Moscow and other cities are violently crushed down. The situation in Russia repeats Belarusian scenario. Not only oppositionists, activists of public movements and those who decided to show their attitude to large-scale violations during the elections are detained. Some human rights activists were arrested as well: for example, an employee of the organisation “Soldiers’ mothers”, Yelena Popova. An activist and employee of the ADC Memorial, Filipp Kostenko, was arrested and inadequately jailed for 15 days. He went on hunger strike demanding the release of other arrested people.

On Human Rights Day, it is important to remind that persecutions of human rights activists, both criminal and political, for their professional activities are inadmissible. The civil society should show their solidarity with those who protecting other people’s rights take a risk on their own safety, freedom and possibility to work. They often become victims of open repressions and violence and have to oppose non-direct oppression. As the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said, “everyone’s obligation is to support their efforts and join those who demand safety of the human rights activists and their families”.

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