Chechen authorities’ attempts to silence Right Livelihood Award Laureate Memorial
While the Russian celebration of New Year ended on 8th January, bringing with it a celebratory feeling of hope for the new year, the same optimism cannot be shared by the Russian Right Livelihood Award Laureate Memorial, which has faced coordinated attacks against their work in Russia’s North Caucasus region.
“The pattern of retaliation against Memorial for their essential documentation of human rights abuses in the region demonstrates a systematic attempt by Chechen authorities to silence Memorial for their reporting of abuses allegedly carried out at the behest of those in power”, said Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.
Firstly, the director of the Chechnya office of Human Rights Center Memorial, Oyub Titiev, was arrested on 9th January on drug possession charges but Mr Titiev says police planted the drugs on him, because of his human rights work. This is an increasingly utilised tactic against activists and political opposition, Mr Titiev now faces the prospect of 10 years imprisonment if convicted. Mr. Titiev’s arrest has drawn criticism from across the world, with activists, organisations, and politicians alike condemning the move.
“We call on on Russian authorities to respect Mr. Titiev’s rights which are enshrined in Russian law and through Russia’s obligations to international human rights standards and practices, such as complying with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders” said Ole von Uexkull.
The threats facing Memorial’s activities in the North Caucasus region were further highlighted this week, when on 17th January the Human Rights Center Memorial offices in Chechnya’s neighbouring state of Ingushetia were set on fire by a group of masked men.
“The Right Livelihood Award Foundation deplores these brazen attacks against Memorial and its staff in the North Caucasus. We stand in full solidarity with our Laureate in their unwavering commitment to defend the rights of their fellow citizens and hold those in power accountable for their actions” said Ole von Uexkull.
Memorial received the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ in 2004 “for showing, in traumatic times, the importance of understanding the historical roots of human rights abuse, to secure respect for them in the future.”
About the Right Livelihood Award
The Right Livelihood Award was established in 1980 to “honour and support courageous people and organisations offering visionary and exemplary solutions to the root causes of global problems”. It has become widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ and there are now 170 Laureates from 69 countries. In addition to presenting the annual award in Stockholm, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation supports its Laureates, particularly those who may be in danger due to the nature of their work.
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