AI CALLS ON MEDVEDEV TO END ATTACKS ON HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS
- AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA
October 05, 2009
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS ON PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV TO END ATTACKS ON
HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS
(Washington) – 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 today.
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
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
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, Natalia 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 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 Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, 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, President Kadyrov 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 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 Natalia 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
Saidulaeva, 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 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 Poilitkovskaya, 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.”