Open Letter to Dmitry Medvedev for Human Rights Defenders
Amnesty International*, U.S. based human rights organization, calls to Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russian Federation for end attacks on human rights activists in North Caucasus and Russia.
“Human rights activists in Russia and the North Caucasus face increasing violence and intimidation three years after the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Amnesty International said on October 5, 2009.
In a letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Amnesty International urged him to take genuine steps to stop the attacks, and for his administration to demonstrate a commitment to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice.
“That those who murdered Anna Politkovskaya and ordered her killing remain free reflects a failure by the Russian authorities to fully investigate such crimes,” said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
Unfortunately, such attacks still continue. A number of people who have spoken out against human rights violations in the country, including human rights activists, lawyers, and journalists, have been killed or faced intimidation.
In January of this year, Stanislav Markelov, a lawyer who had been working closely with Politkovskaya, was shot dead in Moscow. Anastasia Baburova, a journalist, was gunned down at his side.
Attacks against those working to protect human rights are common in the North Caucasus as well. On July 15, Natalya Estemirova of the Memorial Human Rights Centre was abducted in Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic. Her body was found later the same day in Ingushetia.
Estemirova’s killing occurred among verbal attacks by puppet Chechen authorities, who have accused human rights activists of supporting illegal armed groups. She had received a number of threats in connection with her human rights work.
In early July, Adam Delimkhanov, a member of the Russian Parliament and a close ally of pro-Moscow puppet Chechen government’s President Ramzan Kadirov, was shown on Chechen TV threatening “so-called human rights defenders, who support terrorists.” In an interview with Radio Liberty shortly after Estemirova’s murder, Kadirov, leader of Russian puppet regime in Chechnya, dismissed her work as irrelevant and described her as a person who ‘never had any honor or sense of shame.’
Amnesty International condemns such comments of high ranking puppet-officials given around the time of her killing.
Amnesty International is concerned about the continued safety of Estemirova’s colleagues from Memorial offices in the North Caucasus and in Moscow. Shortly before her killing, Akhmed Gisaev had been researching a case of alleged extrajudicial execution in a Chechen village with Estemirova. He has reported being followed and receiving threats of violence.
“It is of the utmost importance that the investigations into the killings of Natalya Estemirova, Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, and Anna Politkovskaya are conducted in an independent and impartial manner, and, where grounds exist, do not stop short of investigating possible links with government officials, including the highest government officials,” said Khan.
A number of other attacks have recently taken place in the area. Zarema Sadulayeva, head of the humanitarian organization Let’s Save the Generation, and her husband, Alik Dzhabrailov, were both killed on August 11. They were abducted from their office in Grozny by men identifying themselves as puppet law enforcement officials, and a few hours later they were found dead in the boot of their car.
The office of Mothers of Dagestan for Human Rights in Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan, was recently burned down. A leaflet was also distributed in Makhachkala naming two representatives of that organization, Svetlana Isaeva and Gulnara Rustamova, as well as other human rights activists, lawyers, and journalists from Dagestan, as aiders and abetters of illegal armed groups. The leaflet called for a “blood feud” against these people.
Amnesty International has called on President Medvedev to ensure that these crimes are fully investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice in trials that meet international standards. Three years after the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, Russian authorities must take action to end attacks against those working to protect human rights in the country.
“It is time President Medvedev showed the political will to protect people that stand up for human rights in Russia,” said Khan. “He must act now to end the climate of fear and intimidation.”
*Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.”