Open Letter to “Memorial”
Thomas Bindesboll Larsen published an open letter to “Memorial” on the behalf of the Danish Support Committee for Chechnya.
“Natalya Estemirova was murdered – continue to support her brave colleagues!
With the beastly and cowardly murder of Natalya Estemirova, both Chechen and Russian human rights activists have lost one of the most fearless and courageous fighters for freedom and rights.
Our thoughts and deepest sympathies in these dark days go to Natalya’s relatives. Yet another young daughter has now lost a mother, just like thousands of other Chechens have had to bury their loved ones – murdered through more than a decade of criminal and genocidal war in Chechnya.
Natalya Estemirova stayed on her post until the very end. Such outstanding human courage is far beyond what poor words can describe. Despite constant threats directed at both her and her colleagues, she did not make a single step back, but continued her great and important documentary work, regarding the numerous war crimes committed by both the Russian occupation forces and their local Quislings.
In March 2007, The Danish Support Committee for Chechnya, together with the Foreign Policy Association of Denmark, had the great pleasure to have Natalya as our guest and speaker at several meetings in Copenhagen, only half a year after the murder of one of her best friends and colleagues, Anna Politkovskaya. While staying here, Natalya impressed us all with her deep and sincere dedication to fight on for all the victims, despite all death threats. Both we and the Chechen refugees in Denmark were very affected by her fearless attitude and dignified appearance.
The cruel murder of Natalya has triggered condemnation and words of regret all around the world, both from prominent politicians and international organizations. But all the words ought to be committing, and must therefore be matched by concrete demands made to the current leaders in Moscow – before the next oil and gas contract with Russia once again turns out to have “first priority”, instead of clearly spoken condemnations of the continued mass murder and state terror throughout the whole North Caucasus region, as well as in Russia itself.
Natalya’s brave colleagues, both in in the “Memorial” organization and in the other constantly harassed and persecuted Caucasian and Russian NGOs, thus must be actively supported, and not only by words.
The Danish government could go ahead on its own and invite the Chechen and Russian human rights activists for an official visit here, just as it has done in cases such as Zimbabwe or Belarus.
The Danish Support Committee for Chechnya will continue our work to ensure that Natalya and all her efforts won’t be forgotten. We know it is in her spirit to support all those, who still carry on bravely, following her tracks. We therefore call on all freedom-loving people and organizations world-wide to take action.
Natalya Estemirova was a shining example of the utmost human civil courage.
All honour to her memory!
On behalf of the Support Committee for Chechnya,
Thomas Bindesbøll Larsen, Chairman
Copenhagen, 20 July 2009“