55 member organisations of FIDH stand in solidarity with Memorial

Press release
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We, the undersigned 55 organizations of the International Federation for Human Rights, condemn in the harshest terms the ongoing attempts by the Russian authorities to liquidate two of Russia’s foremost human rights NGOs: International Memorial and its related organization, member of the Federation, Human Rights Center “Memorial”. The politically motivated charges aim to further decimate Russia’s civil society and should be dropped immediately.

On November 8, 2021, the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation and the Moscow City Prosecutor’s Office filed administrative complaints seeking, respectively, the liquidation of International Memorial and FIDH Member organization Human Rights Center “Memorial”.

The principal grounds for the two complaints against Russia’s oldest and most respected human rights NGOs include alleged failure to comply with the ignominious “Foreign Agent” law, including the requirement to label all materials as produced by a “Foreign Agent”. HRC Memorial was also accused of justifying terrorism and extremism, which threatens its employees with criminal charges and prison terms.

All allegations against the two NGOs are arbitrary, as their only aim is to destroy organizations that have steadfastly worked to document and remedy violations of human rights guaranteed by the Russian Constitution and international conventions, represent victims before courts, commemorate victims of Soviet-era repressions, and educate the broader public about human rights. These activities have exposed the current regime’s repressive character and its manipulation of historical memory of the Soviet past, with both Memorials becoming a thorn in the authorities’ side as a result.

We are particularly concerned by the additional justification of terrorism and extremism allegations brought against HRC Memorial. These accusations stem from HRC Memorial’s statements and analytical documents concerning political prisoners, including the list of current political prisoners in Russia, which it maintains and publishes on its website.

“In the view of Russian authorities, maintaining a list of individuals who are persecuted for their religious beliefs or political views is tantamount to justifying terrorism,” remarks Alice Mogwe, FIDH’s President.

“This despite the disclaimer that the authors of the list do not endorse the views of political prisoners or their ideology. The extremism charges are merely a pretext for the closure of Memorial because of its legitimate human rights work. Dissolution of both Human Rights Center Memorial and International Memorial is a draconian measure which ultimately harms not only civil society, but the general public who benefit immensely from the services of Memorial.”

The simultaneous filings are a coordinated judicial attack by the two enforcement agencies. Both prosecutors’ offices claim that non-compliance with the “Foreign Agent” labeling requirement resulted in violations of the right to freedom of expression and the rights of the child enshrined in international conventions. These absurd claims stem from the deliberate or actual ignorance of international human rights law; violations of human rights are committed by agents of states parties to these international instruments, not individuals or legal entities who are rights holders.

In fact, it is Russia’s adoption and implementation of the “Foreign Agent” law that is contrary to international law, as held by numerous interstate organs, since it undermines freedoms of association and expression and stigmatizes human rights defenders as foreign spies. The restrictions on funding of NGOs from foreign sources is an illegitimate interference in their activities, and produces a chilling effect on their work.

The preliminary hearing in the case of International Memorial is set to take place on November 25, 2021 while the preliminary hearing in the case of HRC Memorial is scheduled for November 23, 2021.

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  • Co-signatories

    Guinea - Organisation Guinéenne pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme
    Guinea – Mêmes Droits Pour Tous - Guinee
    Tanzania - The Legal and Human Rights Center
    Botswana - Ditshwanelo - The Botswana Centre For Human Rights
    Sudan - Sudan Human Rights Monitor
    Mauritania - Association Mauritanienne des Droits de L’Homme
    Burundi - Ligue Burundaise des Droits de l’Homme
    Ivory Coast - Ligue Ivoirienne des Droits de l’Homme
    Morocco – Association Marocaine pour les Droits Humains
    Syria - Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
    Iran – Justice for Iran
    Turkey - Insan Haklari Dernegi (IHD) / Ankara
    Belgium - Ligue Des Droits Humains – Belgique
    Belgium - Liga Voor Mensenrechten
    Germany - Internationale Liga Fur Menschenrechte
    Norway - Norwegian Helsinki Committee/Den Norske Helsingforskomité
    France - Ligue des Droits de l’Homme
    Finland - Finnish League for Human Rights
    UK - Committee on the Administration of Justice
    USA - Center For Constitutional Rights
    Portugal - Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos Humanos – Civitas
    Spain - Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos de Espana
    Armenia - Civil Society Institute
    Ukraine - Center For Civil Liberties
    Moldova – Promo-Lex
    Russia - Citizens’ Watch
    Russia - Human Rights Centre "MEMORIAL"
    Kyrgyzstan - Human Rights Movement « Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan »
    Kyrgyzstan - Legal Clinic Adilet
    Kazakstan - International Legal Initiative Foundation
    Kazakstan - Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights & Rule Of Law
    Georgia - Human Rights Centre
    Russia - Anti-Discrimination Center Memorial (ADC Memorial)
    Belarus - Human Rights Center « Viasna »
    Venezuela - Programa Venezolano de Educación – Acción en Derechos Humanos
    Peru - Equidad - Centro de Politicas Publicas y Derechos Humanos
    Ecuador - Fundación Regional de Asesoria en Derechos Humanos
    Guatemala - Centro para la Accion Legal en Derechos Humanos
    Vietnam - Comite Vietnam pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (Vietnam Committee on Human Rights)
    Pakistan - Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
    Bangladesh – Odhikar
    India - People’s Watch
    Malaysia - Suara Rakyat Malaysia
    Thailand - Manushya Foundation
    Indonesia – Kontras - the Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence
    Afghanistan - Armanshahr/ Open Asia
    Myanmar - Altsean Burma
    Maldives - Maldivian Democracy Network
    Iran - League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI)
    Mexico - Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos
    Brasil - Justiça Global
    India - Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
    China - Human Rights In China
    Mauritania - Association Mauritanienne des Droits de L’Homme
    Niger - Association Nigérienne pour la Défense des Droits de L’Homme

  • Member organisations - Russia
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