Happy New Year! Happy New ADC!

This past year, 2013, has not been kind to many. It has been bad for NGOs, caught in the cross-fire of prosecutors’ investigations, and for those minorities who had their rights legally limited; bad for the migrants targeted by raids from both the authorities and the nationalists alike, and for the prisoners whose hopes for an amnesty were dashed. It was bad for environmentalists and for human rights activists, for charities and for religious groups.
The end of 2013 was also the end of some projects and themes. The beginning of 2014 will also become a new beginning.
The project work of the Private Charitable Foundation Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” has been finished. It is simply impossible to work as before under the conditions of open harassment, with more and more remedial action orders, court rulings, notices of opposition and lawsuits filed by prosecutors.
Our work to protect vulnerable groups – Roma and migrants, various minorities, women and children – was deemed by the prosecutors to be worthy of real political repressions. This is how we view the lawsuit on recognition of “activities of Private Charitable Foundation Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” to be the activity of an NGO which fulfills the function of foreign agent”, upheld by St Petersburg’s Leninsky District court judge A. Moroz. ADC Memorial did not and does not recognise the legality of either this lawsuit nor of this ruling.
But continuing work with schools and higher education institutions, with labour inspections that oversee migrants’ work conditions, and with municipal administrations of settlements populated by Roma families would be impossible with such a stigma.
As we realise that, we are forced to refrain from developing our projects further as Private Charitable Foundation Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial”. We, however, hope to be able to continue working in all the fields of our activity.
ADC Memorial (from now on the name of an international human rights organisation) will continue collecting and evaluating information on breaches of minorities’ and vulnerable groups’ rights, will continue fighting against discrimination, carry out human rights advocacy and analysis, publish reports, articles, and update the adcmemorial.org website.
Private Charitable Foundation Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” has existed for almost six years. In that time, we have managed to do many things but we failed in many more. We helped defend the rights of hundreds of people but we did not manage to stop discriminatory practices altogether. We have managed to tell the world about the facts of segregation of children at schools, about police violence against defenceless people whose only crime was their appearance, about socially and economically catastrophic conditions that Roma and migrants live in. But we failed to enforce Russian and international legal norms concerning the groups and people that we defend.
This means that our work has to continue no matter what obstacles stand in our way.
We tell all of our friends, partners and clients “goodbye” but not “farewell”.
We thank all those who supported us when times were tough for our organisation, who spoke out for us, who honestly and responsibly covered the epic persecution of Private Charitable Foundation Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial”, who followed the trial and turned up for court sessions, who just read and thought of us. We cannot name you all, sorry if we fail to mention some of you. We would like to especially note the principled stance of the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) which strongly condemned the persecution of our organisation for its co-operation with the CAT and for publishing a human rights report about police abuses. We thank the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders which had repeatedly called the attention of international community to our troubled situation, Human Rights Watch, Frontline for Human Rights Defenders, Solidarity Platform, International Memorial, Amnesty International, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, European Roma Rights Centre, Minorities Rights Group and others who issued statements in support of ADC Memorial.
Huge thanks to all those who just personally spoke out against this persecution – those who criticised the victimisation of human rights advocates on Roma mailing lists and in publications, who supported us from remote Central Asia, who spoke about the trouble we faced at the many meetings and conferences.
We’re not only thankful but proud at the thought of the great support from the mass media. Despite the obvious state orders in our case, the journalists almost uniformly wrote good things about us (NTV does not count, and even they did not throw that much mud at us!)
As long as journalists can and want to write truth about political repressions, if only at some media outlets, not all is lost. And “wanting” is much more important here than “being able”.
Not just journalists – all of us can achieve what we want!
Happy new year!
Happy new Anti-Discrimination Centre!