Human Rights Award to Commemorate the Anniversary of the Murder of Anna Politkovskaya
RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR), 5 October 2007
Sunday 7 October will mark the anniversary of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the campaigning Russian journalist and outspoken government critic, who exposed the brutal treatment of civilians in Chechnya at the hands of both the Russian forces and the Moscow-supported Chechen officials. No closer to having her assassin brought to justice, one year on, the Kremlin remains reluctant and shows no political will to identify who ordered the killing and to see justice done. Not much has changed in Russia and Chechnya since Anna’s killing last October: independent journalists continue to die in mysterious circumstances; civil society is stifled by draconian government laws and regulations. In Chechnya, torture, rape, disappearances and killings of civilians are a daily occurrence.
To mark this anniversary and to honour Anna and other women like her in the world, RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR), a new human rights organization, is launching an annual award in the name of Anna Politkovskaya, to be given to a woman human rights defender from a conflict zone in the world, who stands up for the victims of this conflict, often at a great personal risk.
Close to 100 influential cultural and political leaders from around the world are supporting RAW in War’s first annual Anna Politkovskaya Award.
The Award is presented to Natalia Estemirova, a close friend and colleague of Anna as well as a courageous human rights defender and freelance journalist, working in Chechnya for the human rights organization, Memorial. Natalia said:
“I am proud to receive an award in the name of Anna and honouring what Anna stood for. This award is extremely important for me and my colleagues, because it would enable us to continue our work for human rights in Chechnya and to help further the victims of this war.
“Freedom is not something given to the person. Freedom matters only if you feel free inside yourself. Anna was an absolutely free person.
“I would like to say to the people of Europe: please do not forget that Chechnya is in Europe. Please know that we are human beings like you, we want the same things as you do. And do not ignore our suffering only in exchange for cheap gas and oil. There is no such thing as suffering that could be contained behind closed doors without eventually affecting all of us equally. Please stand up to protect our lives and to restore our human dignity. Because in doing so, you help preserve yours. Always remember the words of the German priest, Niemöller, during WWII who said: “First they came for the Communists,- but I was not a communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, – but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, – but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
1. RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) is a new international human rights NGO supporting women human rights defenders and women and girl victims of war and conflict around the world. RAW in WAR aims to:
- support women human rights defenders, working in countries in war and conflict, and help end abuse and persecution against them
- work directly with women who are active in their communities in order to strengthen and enable their work on behalf of women and girl victims of conflict
- carry out its work in areas of conflict, or “forgotten conflict”, where there is limited or no support from the major humanitarian agencies and organizations
Mariana Katzarova founded RAW in WAR in 2006, after working as a journalist and human rights advocate in the war zones of Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya, including 10 years as the Russia Researcher for Amnesty International. Originally from Bulgaria, she was a founder of the first independent newspaper in Bulgaria in 1989, called “Democracy”.
2. Biographical details for Natalia:
Natalia Estemirova is a courageous human rights defender and freelance journalist from Chechnya. Since 2000 and throughout the armed conflict in Chechnya, Natalia has been working for Memorial, Russia’s biggest human rights organization.
Natalia was Anna’s close friend and colleague. She was Anna’s most frequent companion during travel and investigations in Chechnya. They investigated a number of cases together – about which Anna wrote for “Novaya Gazeta” and Natasha wrote for Memorial’s website and for local newspapers. Natalia was also Anna’s interpreter in Chechnya because she speaks both Russian and Chechen, being half-Russian and half-Chechen herself – she went everywhere with Anna.
3. A group of close to 100 influential cultural and political leaders who joined the committee of supporters for the award has called on the Russian Government to bring to justice, in full conformity with international standards, both those who killed Anna Politkovskaya and those who have ordered her murder.
They have also called on the world’s leaders to pledge to do everything in their power to protect the journalists and human rights defenders who work in areas of war and conflict, and who speak out on behalf of the victims, as Anna did.
The list of names includes:
Mairead Maguire (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Betty Williams (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Jody Williams (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Wangari Maathai (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Elena Bonner, Tatiana Yankelevich, President Vaclav Havel, Harold Pinter, The Hon. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Andre Glucksmann, Gloria Steinem, Sergey Kovalyov, Terry Waite, CBE, Susan Sarandon, Alexei Simonov, Gillian Slovo, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Marek Edelman (the last surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising), Elisabeth Rehn, Mariane Pearl, Adam Michnik, Asma Jahangir, Sister Helen Prejean, Ariel Dorfman, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Cunningham, Eve Ensler, John Sweeney, Jonathan Schell, Naom Chomsky, Marina Litvinenko, Lyudmila Alekseeva, Desmond O’Malley, Anne Nivat, Victor Fainberg, Lord Frank Judd, Lord Nicolas Rea, Lord Anthony Giddens, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Baroness Shirley Williams, Baroness Molly Meacher, Sir Nigel Rodley, Professor Yakin Erturk, Anna’s sister, Elena Kudimova, Natasha Kandic, Caroline McCormick, Sister Marya Grathwohl, Heidi Bradner, Meglena Kuneva, Elizabeth Kostova, Esther Chavez, John D. Panitza, Dubravka Ugresic, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Victor Navasky, Aidan White, Holly Near, Elizabeth Frank and many others.
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