Prisoners for Peace Day 2006: Supporting peace and human rights in Russia
Dear member and supporter of War Resisters' International,
Since 1956 1 December is celebrated as Prisoners for Peace Day - a day to think of those who are imprisoned for their courageous acts against war, violence, and human rights violations. This year War Resisters' International chose Russia as a focus, and the recent events highlight the importance of support to peace and human rights activists in Russia. Some "highlights" from October 2006:
- On 7 October, Anna Politkovskaya, a well known journalist who regularly exposed Russian human rights violations in Chechnya, was murdered in her flat in Moscow.
- Six days later, on 13 October, the Russian Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) of Nizhnii Novgorod was ordered closed by a local court.
- Only a few days later the military prosecutors in Chelyabinsk dropped their investigation of four army officials accused of failing to stop the hazing of army conscript Andrei Sychyov -- a case that received a lot of public attention earlier this year because of the violence and cruelty involved. While the person who beat him was sentenced on 26 September to four years imprisonment, no further action will now be taken against those in charge of protecting conscripts.
War Resisters' International works with several groups in Russia, with the aim to support conscientious objection, nonviolent action, and work against the war in Chechnya. As part of this work, War Resisters' International has visited Russia twice, and published a report on "Human Rights and the Armed Forces" in 2003. Activists from Russia participated in WRI's recent conference "Globalising Nonviolence".
However, these activities are not sufficient, and WRI aims to strengthen its work with grassroots groups in Russia in the next years. Our discussions so far show that there is a huge need for work on nonviolence training and action, on conscientious objection to military service, and - above all - for support to a variety of groups aiming to build an opposition to the war in Chechnya - Russia's "war on terror" - in Russia itself. With your help, War Resisters' International will be able to make a small contribution to work for peace and human rights in Russia.
We therefore ask for your participation and support: take some time on 1 December to send cards to prisoners, set up a stall and give out information to others, support conscientious objectors via our co-alert system, and - last but not least - give generously to War Resisters' International.
CO Campaigning Worker
War Resisters' International